Friday, December 13, 2013

Movie Preview: December 2013

We're already a few days into December, but the holiday season is upon us, and the majority of the movies coming out this month are later on anyways. In fact, with the combination of nationwide releases and nationwide expansions around Christmas, there are plenty of options for everyone this Christmas break. For the movie business, that means it is almost guaranteed that a few of those that get lost in the crowd, but audiences won't be complaining too much. Let's dive in!

December 6th - 8th - 

The first week of December is always the quietest of the month. Audiences have just spent their time on the Thanksgiving movies, and are waiting till the middle or end of the month for the Christmas movies. Thus was the case last weekend as November holdovers Catching Fire and Frozen dominated the weekend, with the latter stealing the crown from the former. The only new nationwide release this weekend was Out of the Furnace and it was a bad weekend for it. Out of the Furnace was the first movie in a Christian Bale double-header this month, both going for Oscars. Out of the Furnace was essentially about Christian Bale's character going through a lot of crap in his life. Audiences and critics both didn't go for it, as critics were harsh on it, and audiences didn't give it a shot as it opened to only $5 million for the weekend. No Oscars for this one.

Opening in limited release this weekend was a movie that will get Oscar consideration, and that is Inside Llewyn Davis. It only opened in four theaters over the weekend, but the movie's per-theater average was the ninth highest ever for a movie not released by Disney with that per-theater average being $101,000. Inside Llewyn Davis expands to more theaters on December 20th and is scheduled for a nationwide release in January. Inside Llewyn Davis follows the life of a young singer for a week as he tries to make it in the unforgiving New York Winter. With a 95 percent tomatometer, a best picture nomination in the Oscars is a possibility, with star Oscar Isaac also being in the conversation for a best actor nomination.

December 13th - 15th - 

The second weekend of December is where this month starts picking up. The big release of the weekend will be the biggest of the month, and one of the most anticipated of the year as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters. The Desolation of Smaug is the second chapter of a planned Hobbit trilogy. Fans of the book were skeptic of the decision by Peter Jackson to split the short book into three movies, but last December when the first chapter came out, fans of the book ended up being pleased. Critics were harsh on the movie, though, and the casual movie goer wasn't always impressed. This might hold this second chapter from reaching Lord of the Rings levels, financially, but it will still do great, especially overseas. The second chapter, as the title suggests, will focus around the drag Smaug as voiced by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. It also brings Legolas into the series, along with new elf Tauriel, voiced by Lost star Evangeline Lilly.

Counter-programming from the other nationwide release, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, will make this weekend a rather successful one. Tyler Perry has established himself as quite the popular movie-maker, and audiences have especially loved it when he uses his Madea character, a big, crazy black girl played by Perry himself. The Madea movies typically fare well, and a Christmas theme very well may boost it beyond the typical Madea audience.

This weekend also has two Oscar-contenders opening in limited release that will both get a nationwide expansion on the 20th, as well as a third movie in limited release that will get an expansion in January. The first of these three is Saving Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of the making of Mary Poppins, or rather the process that Walt Disney went through to get permission from author P.L. Travers to make the movie. Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney and it's been quite the year for Hanks. This movie, along with October's Captain Phillips, might make it so Hanks gets two Oscar nominations in one year, one for best actor and one for best supporting actor. Saving Mr. Banks expands nationwide on December 20th.

The other movie expanding on December 20th, but opening this weekend, is American Hustle. David O. Russell is the director of this movie, and he's been a rather popular director recently with his other movies The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, both of which got multiple Oscar nominations. American Hustle brings in an all-star cast, as it combines the cast of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook with Christian Bale and Amy Adams from The Fighter, and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook. As a fifth star, the movie also includes Jeremy Renner. With very strong reviews so far, multiple Oscar nominations are certain to come this movie's way.

Finally, the limited release movie that expands nationwide in January is the movie Her. Her is more of an under-looked Oscar contender, but it could sneak in a few nominations. Spike Jonze directs as the movie is about a lonely author that falls in love with a new technologically advanced operating system that's designed to meet his every needs. The cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Scarlet Johansson in lead roles, but also has a supporting cast of Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig.

December 20th - 22nd - 

Think that was a lot the previous weekend? Well, we're just getting started for holiday movies. In addition to the previously mentioned expansions of Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr. Banks, and American Hustle, the weekend of the 20th also gets two brand new nationwide releases that look to get a jump on the busy Christmas holiday. The dominate one will be Anchorman: The Legend Continues. It's been nearly 10 years when the first Anchorman become a modest hit. Since then, the audience of the movie has continued to build and thus the hype for the sequel has been pretty big, especially because it returns the cast from the original, and trailers have provided lots of laughs. Being that comedies have been somewhat sparse this holiday season, this should provide a great option for those hungering for a comedy that don't want to give Madea's Christmas a chance. Anchorman 2 actually opens up on Wednesday, so it will get even more of a head start on the other movies.

The other nationwide release will give family audiences their first major option since Frozen, and that is Walking With Dinosaurs. Dinosaur movies are no unique thing with movies like The Land Before Time, Jurassic Park, and Dinosaur. This movie, though, looks to take a unique spin on the Dinosaur genre by creating a realistic CGI world that, combined with the help of 3D, looks to take family audiences back to the dinosaur age. Hence the title, Walking With Dinosaurs. Yes, there is a story in the movie that actually seems a bit cliche for dinosaur movies, but the realistic dinosaurs in this is the big grab, and family audiences should eat it up.

December 25th - 29th - 

And then there was Christmas. In addition to what should be a long list of holdovers, Christmas adds five new nationwide releases, which should make things pretty insane. First up is the highly anticipated Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie tells the true story of Jordan Belfort, who went from being a wealthy stockbroker to falling because of crime, corruption, and the federal government. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Belfort, and although the competition for best actor is rather crowded, Leo could be one of the major contenders. The Wolf of Wall Street will probably see several other Oscars, of which Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill could sneak away with best supporting actor nominations.

Next up is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is a remake of the 1947 movie of the same title. The movie is about the day-dreaming Walter Mitty who finds himself on a real-life adventure due to a certain chain of events. The movie is directed by Ben Stiller, and also stars Ben Stiller as the title character of Walter Mitty. The movie is only rated PG, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Either it will appeal to all audiences and thus do really well or it audiences will be confused as to who it's trying to target, and thus it may be a miss. Thus it will rely on good word of mouth as well as Oscar buzz in order to get a good audience.

Third movie of the week is Grudge Match. This is a movie where audiences will see Sylvester Stallone get back into the boxing ring once again, although this time he's not playing his title character of Rocky. However, this will certainly get his Rocky fanbase out to see him box once again, and he will be up against Robert De Niro in the ring. As the story goes, the two were big rivals 30 years previously, and they are getting back into the ring again for one final battle.

Like I mentioned earlier, with so many movies coming out at once, there is bound to be a movie or two that gets lost in the crowd. This will almost certainly be the case for 47 Ronin, unless of course it picks up good solid word of mouth. 47 Ronin is a Samurai movie that stars Keanu Reeves, and it's about a band of Samurai that are out to avenge the death of their master under a ruthless shogun.

Finally we have another Justin Bieber documentary coming out, this one titled Believe. It seems like a bit of an odd choice to do this, since Justin Bieber already filmed a documentary about himself. But for whatever reason he's doing it again. Justin Bieber has also been releasing a song a week for the last couple of months leading up to Christmas, so this appears to be a grand hurrah after doing that. Beliebers will show up to see Believe, but it's doubtful that many others will.

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