With two wide releases opening today and another three on Friday, the pre-Christmas rush is reaching its apex.
Taking advantage of the light animated offerings this season, Disney will re-release Monsters Inc.
in 3D in 2,618 theatres. Disney has had mixed results with its re-releases when it comes to theatrical box office. The Lion King 3D was a huge hit ($94 million), but Finding Nemo 3D ($40 million) Beauty and the Beast ($47 million), the combo release of Toy Story/Toy Story 2 ($30 million) had much softer responses. But when you're talking about Disney, box office is just one slice of a very big pie. Disney expects an opening in the teen millions for the re-release, which should make theatre owners happy. Any work the studio does marketing the release will also serve as advance publicity for Monsters University, the prequel to the original which comes out in June.
Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand have nice chemistry together as son and mother in The Guilt Trip (2,431 theatres), but it ends there. Expectations for the comedy are not high. It may only
earn around $10 million over its five-day opening, less than the re-release of Monsters Inc. The mother-son pairing, which aims to "capture the three key demographics of 30-year-old stoners, over-40 gay males and sexagenarian moms," doesn't pay off according to Time Out's David Frear. "You’d swear you were actually watching a 95-minute pitch for a mild cross-generational cringe comedy rather the film itself, " an assessment I wholeheartedly agree with.
A frontrunner in the awards race, at least by my estimation, Zero Dark Thirty will roll out in just five theatres today. A wider release is planned for January. FJI's Chris Barsanti was a fan of director Kathryn's Bigelow creation: "a hybridized spy procedural and behind-
enemy-lines war film" that "inaugurates a new genre," the "war procedural." Jessica Chastain stars as a CIA agent who spends years tracking down Osama bin Laden as her "worldview narrows down to a millimeter-wide slit." The account is "precise to a fault, verging on clinical," and culminates in a "riveting and sharply framed sequence of near-perfection" that reveals how the elite team helicoptered to the compound and finally killed bin Laden. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 94%, this drama is clearly a critics' favorite.
Director Michael Haneke's meditation on aging, Amour, has many critics predicting it will win the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars. But how it plays with audiences is a different story. "Haneke is always fearless in what he presents (there’s no pampering
to the crowds) and audiences who take pleasure in great work
shouldn’t be fearful," critic Doris Toumarkine encourages, before wondering "if positive
word of mouth performs its magic, or if older mouths too close to
the material do some damage."
By Friday, the Wednesday returns should be in for this batch of new releases, and This is 40, Jack Reacher, and Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away will be added to the oven.