By Sarah Sluis
This Thanksgiving weekend is stuffed with choices--three new wide releases, last week's Twilight and Bolt, and second-week holdover Quantum of Solace should all post eight-digit returns this weekend.
Which film will end up as the main course? Currently, Four Christmases is tracking to be the number one release
this weekend. With 3,310
screens, the comedy will boast the widest release, an omnipresence conducive to number-one openings. However, Australia, while only releasing on 2,642 screens,
could do better than the mid-range, $20 million figure expected. Based on an Oprah show I saw promoting Australia, filled with an unusually (even for Oprah) impassioned audience, I wouldn't be surprised if matriarchs push the family to see Australia over, say, Four Christmases. The "pull" factor--the ability of one person to influence a movie choice--was a key reason Twilight overwhelmed Bolt last weekend, and Australia has more of a "must-see," epic feel to it than a by-the-book comedy, even if it does star Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon.
Lionsgate's Transporter 3 opens on 2,626 screens, and with the kids out of school, the PG-13 actioner should pass at least $10 million. Last week's #1 and #3 releases, Twilight and Bolt, will also be films to watch, both for their movement within the top ten, and, well, for their entertainment value. Disney expects Bolt to make just as much money this week as last week. Certainly, filmgoers who had Twilight and Bolt on their to-see list (i.e., those Utah families supporting Twilight) will probably turn out for Bolt in its second weekend, but I am also curious to see how well Twilight will be able to maintain its audience.
Biopic Milk releases on 35 screens, expanding on the traditional NY/LA/Toronto release to include San Francisco, where Harvey Milk held office, as well as liberal, gay-friendly cities, including Miami,
Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, and Seattle. No showings in (liberal) Austin, Dallas, or Salt Lake City. Despite the film's obvious appeal to those interested in the civil rights movement, and specifically gay rights, our critic Doris Toumarkine predicted Milk " should attract demanding filmgoers of all persuasions." With the passage of California's Proposition 8 in the forefront, the film reads as particularly topical. My question is: Will the targeted release of Milk be able to match the whopping $30k+ per screen of the Slumdog Millionaire release the past two weeks?