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New Movies and Box Office Predictions: Semi-Pro, The Other Boleyn Girl, Penelope

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Last week had a pretty good slate of new releases, one of which was sadly ignored. Will this week be any different? Doubtful. The title selection is a little more suspect. Will Ferrell leads the freshman class onto the big screen, where it will definitely run the boards and finish with a slam dunk.

As for the others? Well, their success is definitely a little more suspect. Still, there is nothing quite like catching a film on the big screen. Perhaps, with the lack of a truly killer "great" film this weekend, you can take in one of the winners from last week's Oscar ceremonies.

The Other Boleyn Girl. (2008, 115 minutes, PG-13, drama, trailer) Does anyone else think that this movie suffers from a bad title? I didn't think so. Anyway, this seems like an odd time of year to be releasing a period drama. I generally think of these as autumn releases. I suspect that the studio does not have a lot of faith in it, hence the February release. Still, the movie does have some star power with Natalie Portman, Scarlet Johansson, and Eric Bana in the lead roles. The story boils down to a pair of sisters battling for the affections of the King of England. I like the stars, but it seems like a bore. Justin Chadwick directs from Peter Morgan's screenplay, adapted from the novel by Philippa Gregory.

Penelope. (2008, 89 minutes, PG, fantasy/romance, trailer) A woman is born with a pig's snout in the place of her nose. Believing the cure to her curse is to marry one of her own kind, she searches for a suitor. She then meets a man who was hired by some underhanded men with a grudge against the family. I am sure you can probably guess that something unexpected ensues. Does that make the unexpected the expected? I don't think this film will make much of a dent at the box office, despite the decent cast. Among the stars are Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, and Peter Dinklage. Mark Palansky makes his big screen debut, and Leslie Caveny is responsible for the screenplay, making the jump from the small screen to the big one.

Semi-Pro. (2008, 90 minutes, R, comedy, trailer) Will Ferrell is back in a sports spoof. This will be his third sports film in as many years, beginning with Talladega Nights and last year's Blades of Glory. This year's target is basketball. Ferrell is Jackie Moon, owner/player/coach of an ABA basketball team. The problem begins when the ABA is about to be absorbed by the NBA and Jackie wants to be a part of it, despite the fact that his team is awful. I only hope it is better than Blades. Joining Ferrell are Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney, and Will Arnett. Kent Alteman jumps from producer to director and Scot Armstrong seeks to outdo his last film, The Heartbreak Kid.

In Bruges. (2008, 101 minutes, R, comedy/action, trailer) This looks like a lot of fun. Martin McDonagh writes and directs; it is the noted playwright's first feature. The tale centers on a pair of Irish hitmen sent to Bruges to await instructions following a hit that ended badly. However, the two cannot avoid trouble, and this could be their last trip. Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson star as the partners. I am looking forward to seeing this one.

Into the Wild. (2007, 12 hours, R, drama, trailer) The Oscar nominated, Sean Penn-directed drama finally comes to town, albeit at the second run theater. Still, it is a chance to catch up on it on the big screen. It's based on the real life story of Christopher McCandless. After graduating college, the young man decides to give up his life of privilege to journey to the Alaskan wilderness. Emile Hirsch stars as the youth.

Also opening this week, but not near me:

  • Bonneville
  • Chicago 10
  • City of Men

Box Office Predictions

Last week, Vantage Point successfully landed at the top of the charts, thanks to its ruthless advertising strategy. Its reign will be a short one as Will Ferrell will assuredly arrive in the top spot. Seriously, is there any doubt? As for the rest of the week's new releases, The Other Boleyn Girl will have moderate success, and Penelope will be a mere blip on the radar. However, there is likely to be one film making a return trip to the top, No Country For Old Men. The Best Picture winner is being sent back into wide release where it should find some success in the wake of its win last week.

Here is how I think the top ten field will play out: 

Rank Title Box Office
1 Semi-Pro $30 million
2 Vantage Point $13 million
3 The Spiderwick Chronicles $9 million
4 Jumper $7 million
5 Step Up 2: The Streets $5.5 million
6 The Other Boleyn Girl $5 million
7 No Country for Old Men $5 million
8 Juno $3.5 million
9 Definitely, Maybe $3 million
10 Penelope $3 million
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