THEATER NECKING TO TAKE ON NEW MEANING
Defying conventional wisdom that teenage boys control the box office, box office analysts are predicting record crowds -- mostly of teenage girls -- for this weekend's opening of Summit Entertainment's The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times said that the film will likely sell about $90 million worth of tickets and could possibly cross the $100-million mark, putting it just behind the year's biggest ticket seller, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke quoted sources as saying that the movie's midnight take may have exceeded that of The Dark Knight. Both Transformers and Knight were aimed squarely at young men, while the Twilight movie is aimed at young women. Although today's ticket sales are likely to be enormous, Saturday's are likely to fall off dramatically, if the original Twilight is any indication. That movie saw a decline of 41 percent on its second day, then drop 62 percent on its second weekend, despite the fact that it, like its sequel, went into its second week with the benefit of the Thanksgiving holiday. The vampire/werewolf love-triangle will be doing battle with the second week of the end-of-the-world saga 2012, which is expected to lose more than half its opening-weekend audience, but still perform quite nicely. Two new films (besides New Moon) opening wide, Planet 51 and The Blind Side, are iffy propositions.
MOVIE REVIEWS: PLANET 51
Planet 51, an animated film about an alternate Earth still living in the 1950s (while the inhabitants are green and sport antennas on their heads, they speak English) that is invaded by modern man, is likely to attract an alternate audience -- families. It's receiving so-so reviews. "Although not bowling me over, Planet 51 is a jolly and good-looking animated feature in glorious 2D," writes the Chicago Sun-Times's Roger Ebert, who is no fan of most animated 3D features. Stephen Holden in the New York Times calls it "agreeable but flagrantly unoriginal." Annie Biancolli in the San Francisco Chronicle regards Planet 51 as "an innocuous computerized bauble." And Nancy Churnin in the Dallas Morning News says it's "definitely a planet worth a visit." But Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer regards it as an "uninspired computer-animated feature that may satisfy undiscriminating pipsqueaks and nearly no one else." Yet, Jan Horwitz notes in the Washington Post, "Most of the jokes are geared to adults and are a little tasteless, yet the story itself seems aimed at kids." Similarly, Ty Burr writes in the Boston Globe that the movie is "obnoxiously written, with too many cutesy-dirty double-entendres that are meant to appeal to the grown-ups but that only make the movie seem cringingly infantile."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE BLIND SIDE
Lou Lumenick in the New York Post describes The Blind Side as "part football movie and part Precious with a happy ending." It's the true story of a wealthy Southern couple, played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, who take in Michael Oher, a homeless black teenager played by Quinton Aaron, and encourage him to play football. He ends up being signed by the Baltimore Ravens. It's the kind of movie you'd expect it to be, A.O. Scott suggests in the New York Times -- "shedding nuance and complication in favor of maximum uplift." Indeed, says Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News, the movie turns "Oher's remarkable life into a Hollywood fable that trades difficult truths for easy clichés." And Linda Barnard in the Toronto Star concludes that the movie winds up being "as Southern as pecan pie and twice as gooey." On the other hand, several critics bestow high praise on the performance of Sandra Bullock. "Bullock gives her best performance in years," writes Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel. And Claudia Puig in USA Today says, "This is Bullock's movie, and it is perhaps her best role."