I was out for a birthday party on Monday. First, okay, Birthdays should never be on Mondays, but neither should birthday parties. Even when I’ve had non-traditional work schedules, I don’t think I’ve been in a bar on a Monday since God knows when. Anyway I was there talking to a girl with this other guy. And I’m gonna say it, the other guy was way more photogenic than me, and I’m figuring “there’s not a lot of girls at this party, but this dude’s probably going to keep her attention for the party.” But, as it turns out, he was really boring. I don’t know how much either of us were gaming her (or if it was just the limited dude-to-woman ratio), but let the record show that charming often trumps attractive when it comes to guys. Then again, I left early (it was a Monday), for all I know I primed the pump.



THE LEGENDARY HITCHHIKER SAYS THAT HE KNOWS WHERE IT’S AT

Though he’s had his misfires, one should never doubt the entertainment powers of on Mr. Roland Emmerich. In what amounts to the 21st Century version of The Swarm (in terms of cast, I mean, let’s face it, John Cusack is no Paul Newman or Gene Hackman at this point), with 2012 Emmerich’s the guy who knows how to deliver the stupid crazy, and it seems he’s learned his lesson from films like Godzilla and The Patriot, even in his last film was 10,000 B.C.

The only thing working against him is the release date, in that summer movies tend to do just a little bit more. And where pretty much anything can play at any time at this point and make money, it strikes that this movie probably would open bigger in the summer, but the summer’s tentpoles also likely frightened it off. But for a picture like 2012 you don’t have that name recognition of much of the summer’s releases, so I can see why Sony would blink (though they might have been better off swapping this with Angels and Demons). Which means instead of a $60-$70 Million dollar opening, I’m going to be betting that it settles in the $50 range. Still, bigger than Christmas Carol, and still one of the bigger fall openings.

But even so, because of the ability of a film like this to peter out quickly and with a reportedly expensive price tag (word is around $200 Million), expect some hemming and hawing about the opening from some other box office people. The problem is that a film like this should do excellent worldwide business. The Day After Tomorrow did double its domestic internationally.

But the big story this weekend will be the top five placing of Precious as it expands to 174 screens. This obvious Oscar front runner has been netting numerous four star reviews and though there is a backlash already in progress, that backlash is mostly about the film’s cinematic clumsiness and – as Armond White says – ghetto exploitation factor. But cinematic sledgehammery has never gotten in the way for audiences as much as critics, and if the film is a phenomenon (it is), the only problem for the filmmakers may become that the box office success transforms into its biggest reward over awards. They may find themselves able to get over that, though (even if the film is partly meant to be Oscar bait).

I think the problem is that though a film like this does speak perhaps to some inherent truths, or would-be truths, it does so by confirming white, middle class suspicions, which makes it safe for them. Just as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon can be hugely successful by being a film with Asians about kicking, where an American audience has yet to so openly embrace a regular film with a predominately Asian cast, white audiences may find themselves more engaged with a film like this than a filmmaker like Spike Lee (and to a certain extent, this has been proven as Boyz N the Hood was a huge crossover hit, partly because it exploited a fascination with gangs and the ghettos of white people who were already listening to rap music, where Spike’s biggest movie is Inside Man). Success does not hurt a film like Juno, which quickly went from a best Screenplay lock to a multiple nomination film, but it may hurt a film like this because then it no longer needs the support and becomes deniable. Regardless, nominations will be coming, especially after a teary Mo’Nique interview on Oprah.

Pirate Radio came out in England long enough ago that the film is on DVD over in England with its original title “The Boat that Rocked.” Don’t expect much.

WITH HIS TWO-TONE BIBLE, AND HIS FUNNY CIGARETTES, HIS SUNTAN LOTION AND HIS CASTANETS

What what? If A Christmas Carol doesn’t hold with a 30% hit or so it’s not the end of the world if it flat-lines next week. But it’s running out of time.

1. 2012 - $55 Million
2. A Christmas Carol - $22 Million
3. This is It – $7.5 Million
4. The Men who Stare At Goats – $7 Million
5. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire - $5.5 Million

Precious will be on 174 screens. Next week expect more. The question is if it can hold off the leftover horror films The Fourth Kind and Paranormal Activity (which will cross the $100 mark either Thursday or Friday). Oh, and Pirate Radio, if it somehow hits with the Nick Frost fans (of which I am one). but appealing to us Frosties is the film’s only shot.