It’s Christmas time, so therefore it must be Christmas time in Hollis, Queens. Hey, note to readers, my best of and worst of lists will be up in the next couple days. If you care, they should be hitting soon.



HOLIDAYS ARE FILLED WITH UPS AND DOWNS

There is good news and bad news this weekend for box office fans. The good is that True Grit looks to be a performer, and with next weekend free and clear (my blood parasites group), the film should be on track to leave the year with a $50 Million plus total. It’s weird to think anything good might be questionable in doing well, but such is the time and industry we’re in. Next week I should talk about the year-end totals, and we’ve seen a lot of shit do well, but like always, we’ve also seen some of the best of the year do great business.

And on the slightly negative positives, Gulliver’s Travels never seemed to gain any traction, and it’s looking to flounder. The family picture du jour appears to be Little Fockers (more on that), so the film will likely fall face forward, rounding out 20th Century Fox’s year of sucktitude.

But the negative is that as was evident for quite some time, Little Fockers is a powerhouse, and started its Wednesday with solid numbers that should get better as the weekend goes on. The positive to this is that Ben Stiller made Greenberg this year, and if he starts doing “one for them, one for me” then I have no problem. Stiller might be a whore, but between Greenberg and Tropic Thunder he hasn’t given up the ghost. The film assembles a murderer’s row of talent – legends of new Hollywood cinema – and relegates them to fart jokes (as it were). I watched Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro on David Letterman this week. Letterman brought up most of the classics – from Raging Bull to The Graduate – and it shames the film that’s coming out this weekend. I also saw some of De Niro on Saturday Night Live. There was a sketch where he played a woman and grinded on Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs/whatever the fuck he wants to call himself this week. Considering how much De Niro has debased himself over the last two decades, I was surprised that it had enough transgression to elicit any sort of response (okay, I laughed a little, partly because it played on De Niro’s appetite for black women). But De Niro may have to work in the sequel to The Human Centipede to lower himself any further.

The critical response to Fockers is horrible, which means that it’s possible the negative reviews and word of mouth might have some effect. It’s hard to say since only the first film got any sort of positive critical response. My question is that when you have stalwarts like Harvey Kietel, De Niro, Hoffman, Blythe Danner and Barbara Streisand, are audience responding to their familiarity with the performers, or their idea of the performers? I don’t know if the audience for this film saw The Graduate or Mean Streets (or Taxi Driver, or What’s Up Doc? or 1776). If you’re famous long enough, maybe you live long enough to debase yourself. Greta Garbo had a point. And yet in 2006, Robert De Niro directed The Good Shepherd, one of the best films of that year.

As for Tron, it’s still a mixed result. It should take a substantial drop this weekend, which Avatar didn’t. But it might plateau next week. All evidence suggests the film won’t cross $100 domestic by the end of frame Sunday, so that’s a sign the film didn’t get the love/curiosity needed to be that film. But it’s got its 3-D screens until The Green Hornet. Disney has a stake in getting this film to do well, but international hasn’t kicked in yet. Audiences haven’t rejected it, but holiday season, etc. If it does under $30 Million for the weekend, then it might fall an addition 30% for New Years, which means that it’ll be at around $130 by the end of the year. After that weekend, cabin pressure sets in. The math is the math. Will Disney be okay with a $170 total? Depends on international. Depends on toy and game sales. In this case, the world building is selling it to audiences over different platforms. My Tron hat is still awesome.

PREDICT AND RUN, PREDICT AND RUN, EVEN WHEN I WAS TWELVE

Holiday weekend means that numbers should be strange. Most people aren’t working tomorrow, but a lot of stuff shuts down early. Just as Christmas morning tends to be slow but heats up come evening. But most people seem to like taking breaks from their families. Little Fockers takes the crown for the weekend. Tron should come in second. Depends on the families. If I was taking my parents to a movie this weekend it would be True Grit, but I’m not. Little Fockers is the cinematic definition of auto-pilot.

What, what?:

1. Little Fockers - $37 Million
2. Tron Legacy – $25.5 Million
3. True Grit – $19 Million
4. Yogi Bear – $11.9 Million
5. Gulliver’s Travels - $10.8 Million

I may be going low on Gulliver, but I have hope. And one should never give that up, no matter what happens. This year is very Dickensian. Best of times, worst of times. I had no problem coming up with fifteen films that deserve to be lauded at the end of the year, and I had no problem finding ten that should be shat upon, with many in both categories doing great business. Sunday I’ll try and wake up after holiday ham.