2002 Holiday Preview

by Jake Sproul

While we are stuck in the doldrums of the fall movie season, let us take a look at what to expect for the holidays, 2002.

November begins right on the first, when Santa Clause 2 opens. This might gross 100 million, but it looks like the sequel might be about 5 years too late.

The Core, which hopes to draw from the Armageddon crowd, has a budget of 60 million from Paramount. The Core should well pass 60, but its chances for 100+ are mixed. The Core might have benefited for a summer opener, rather than a winter.

Also opening on the first is the Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson take of the 60’s TV hit, I Spy. The trailer is awful, and Eddie Murphy’s recent track record is abysmal. But I Spy just may come out in the black when it hits the theatres on November 1st.

Filling in the gap between November 1st’s openers and Harry Potter is Eminem’s autobiographical 8 Mile. The buzz has been quite strong on it, however, being based in Detroit, setting of 8 Mile and home of Eminem, the buzz is no doubt less in other parts of the country.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone grossed a billion dollars world-wide. So the people at Warner Bros. brought back what seems like the entire crew for the second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which debuts right in the middle of November. The first Harry Potter received support from the critics, but not as overwhelming as Warner Bros. would have hoped, and it still grossed over 300 million domestically, and came very close to breaking the opening weekend record (held at that time by Lost World: Jurassic Park, and is now held by Spider-Man). This time around, the second installment is promising more action and a darker plot, which should please the critics. However, Chamber may suffer from “middle child syndrome.”

Opening opposite Harry Potter is the very promising looking, Phone Booth, which is basically a one man show for rising star Colin Ferrell. Phone Booth may just show to have legs, and be a sleeper hit among the non-Harry Potter fans.

Opening the very next weekend, is the new installment in the James Bond series, Die Another Day. It seems the people have been wondering if James Bond is capable of making the transition to the 21st century. This has come in light of the James Bong-esque xXx which featured a younger, hipper leading action star. However, xXx, while still profitable, was not to major hit that was expected. So it is to be seen if James Bond can handle the pressure. One might think so with a leading lady in recent Oscar winner Halle Berry.

Rapping up November are three films with high expectations. First, the George Clooney remake, Solaris. Solaris is directed by Steven Soderbergh who’s other 2002 feature, Full Frontal, received less the extraordinary word of mouth and reviews, and is produced by Titanic director James Cameron. 8 Crazy Nights, the 3rd Adam Sandler film of the year. This time, Sandler is animated, and very, very mean. The trailer is like a fat person’s worst nightmare. 8 Crazy Nights seems to be headed the way of Mr. Deeds is terms of quality, rather than Punch Drunk Love. And finally, Treasure Planet. Another Disney hand drawn animated feature. Treasure Planet had a reported budget of 100 million, as with Harry Potter, 8 Crazy Nights, and The Santa Clause 2 in the mix, I don’t see Treasure Planet making it to the black. That, unfortunately, may be the end of hand drawn Disney cartoons.

Jake’s Picks for November 2002:

1) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - 275 million
2) Die Another Day - 200 million
3) Solaris - 135 million
4) 8 Mile - 100 million
5) The Santa Clause 2 - 80 million

The studios roll out their Oscar contenders in December, because, lets face it, the Academy is fickle. They remember films that are fresh on their mind. To keep the rest of the demographics happy, they usually through in some blockbusters too. I have a little secret, December is my favorite movie month of the year. So lets dive right in.

Opening on the 6th is the sequel to the Robert DeNiro comedy, Analyze This. Its name? Analyze That. The trailer is hilarious, and caused laughter from the entire audience at my screening of Serving Sara. Something that rarely happens. Analyze That won’t be a run-away hit, but it will have some box office clout for the first 2 weekends of December.

Also on the 6th is the Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep film, Adaptation. This film has received little in terms of buzz. We will have to wait an see if Columbia Pictures kicks up the publicity in the next few weeks. Adaptation looks to take the same road as Possession.

On the 13th, it is all about Star Trek: Nemesis. Picard and the gang are back, and this one looks promising. For a while, they schedule had similar films Nemesis and Solaris opening on the same day. I am pleased the Solaris got pushed up 2 weeks. Star Trek films usually have a solid gross, however, most of the Trekkies will hit it opening night, so expect a very high opening weekend, followed by a free fall before it picks itself up again.

Opening alongside Star Trek: Nemesis is the rom-com Maid in Manhattan (which shares a strikingly similar title to my all time favorite movie, Manhattan Murder Mystery). Maid in Manhattan has gone through several name changes. Just a few weeks ago it was known as The Chambermaid. I am sure I am not alone in saying that its present name is superior. Maid in Manhattan stars Jennifer Lopez, who is a star without a hit. Her last picture, Enough, was a critical and box office flop, and Angel Eyes never really took off. J. Lo. really needs a winner to be considered a box-office draw.

In limited release, also on the 13th, is About Schmidt, which received tons of praise at the Sundance Film Festival. Jack Nicholson just might be collecting Oscar #4 for his performance. If About Schmidt does well in limited release, expect a expansion similar to The Good Girl’s, and a box office tally around 3 million.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is destined rain over the week of the 20th. We have waited a year for the sequel to one of the top grossers ever, last year’s The Fellowship Of The Ring. Like its Harry Potter counterpart, The Two Towers will suffer from “middle child syndrome,” but it will still be major at the box office. And depending how well Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can open, The Two Towers may just stay atop the box office well into the new year.

The Christmas openers this year are very strong. We have the long awaited Martin Scorsesse film Gangs of New York, which has had a mainstay in the tabloids during its problem ridden shoot. Gangs stars Leo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. Leo will competing against himself on Christmas with Catch Me If You Can. The Steven Spielberg directed film, co-starring Tom Hanks. Hoping to cash in on the Moulin Rouge genre, Chicago, starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere also opens on Christmas. It is worth noting the trailer to Chicago is front runner for the “Jakie Award” for best trailer of the year. Whoever winds up on top at the end of the year, expect a very high grossing last two weeks of December.

Jake's Picks For December 2002

1) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - 290 million
2) Gangs of New York - 145 million
3) Catch Me If You Can - 135 million
4) Star Trek: Nemesis - 125 million
5) (tie) Chicago - 80 million
Analyze That - 80 million

© 2002 Jake Sproul