With Christmas approaching, Hollywood is making sure everyone on its list receives the perfect present. The tween boy is getting National Treasure: Book of Secrets, while his little sister can go back for a repeat helping of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Older brother can head on over to Will Smith's record-breaker I Am Legend, or, if he can fake the swagger of an 18-year old, the R-rated Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Meanwhile, big sis is definitely going to see Johnny Depp get his murderous-singing-barber on in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. And mom and dad have two options: If mom wins, they are going to P.S. I Love You, and if dad is the victor, Charlie Wilson's War is the present of choice.
Whatever these American families decide, one thing is clear: This weekend is going to be the battle royale of the season. With more moviegoers available and more product in theaters, this may well be the weekend that decides the ultimate fate of this year's box office.
THE (LIKELY) TOP FIVE
1. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Disney · PG · 3,832 theaters · New
The 2004 original opened to $35 million, a personal best for star Nicolas Cage, on its way to grossing $173 million. And once upon a time, this sequel was set to be the 2007 holiday season's Night at the Museum. Then along came a little movie called I Am Legend. While Book of Secrets should still eke out a first-place title this frame, it will be a hard-won fight, with Legend nipping eagerly at its heels.
Weekend prediction: $45 million
2. I Am Legend
Sony · PG-13 · 3,606 theaters · 2nd week
After a phenomenal opening weekend, this Will Smith-starrer has done solid business during the week, leading me to believe its second-week drop won't be as sharp as originally believed. Rather than a 60 percent drop, as many predicted, I think its second-week dip will fall more in the 45 percent range.
Weekend prediction: $42 million
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks
Fox · PG · 3,476 theaters · 2nd week
It grossed an astonishing $44 million its opening frame. And a lot of people don't think it sucks. So, rather then hating on the Chipmunks for their saccharine sweetness, I'm going to give a little love and predict a strong hold for this partially animated flick's second week. Look for a 40 percent drop and an impressive hold as parents look for some out-of-the-house entertainment for their young'uns.
Weekend prediction: $28 million
4. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Sony Pictures · R · 2,650 theaters · New
John C. Reilly + producer Judd Apatow + rock-biopic parody: Sounds like the perfect combination. But early buzz has made this not as much of a must-see as Apatow's previous hits of this year (Knocked Up and Superbad). But it's a long holiday season. So while it may appeal only to older guys right now, perhaps they'll convince their significant others to see Dewey Cox rock & roll.
Weekend prediction: $12 million
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Dreamworks/Paramount · R · 1,249 theaters · New
It's only coming out in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, and it does involve a lot of singing. But Sweeney Todd's secret weapon is the one and only Johnny Depp. Not only are his fans of the rabid variety, but he also plays a murderous barber, which will resonate with those young girls who can't get enough horror movies in their lives. Sweeney should have a strong debut and go on to do some real business this holiday.
Weekend prediction: $10 million
OTHER NEW RELEASES
Charlie Wilson's War
Universal · R · 2,574 theaters
It's Tom and Julia finally playing opposite each other. It's already been recognized by the Golden Globes. And it's based on a great screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. For these reasons, this seems to be the one war movie that might actually work. It's also the one movie for grown-ups this holiday. While those adults may be too busy this weekend to go out in full force, Charlie may end up doing some real business before its run is over.
Weekend prediction: $8 million
P.S. I Love You
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 2,454 theaters
Hilary Swank is playing against type in a romantic comedy that just looks old-fashioned when compared to movies like Juno and Knocked Up. Early reviews have not been kind, which leaves little hope for this movie, which costars Gerard Butler.
Weekend prediction: $6 million