Segue into holidays
Fall box office picks likely to be some of year's best.
With the summer blockbusters fading to black,
box office revenue is expected to take a dip during the fall season, but the
next two months are still crowded with studio releases featuring major stars
vying to become breakout hits.
Last year, both the comedy "Sweet Home Alabama" and the horror film
"The Ring" became $100 million-plus grossers, proving that September and
October can be fertile ground for films that manage to connect with
"The fall represents an opportunity for the studios to segue between
summer and the holiday period with some different-style movies without
competing head-on with the more typical blockbusters," said Paul
Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations
Co. "This time of year is when it's more about the movie and the art of
filmmaking and less about the box office expectations."
Among this year's fall crop are Woody Allen's latest offering, "Anything
Else," the thriller "Cold Creek Manor" starring Sharon Stone and Dennis
Quaid, and the dark comedy "Duplex" with Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore.
"We get more serious and quirky fare, movies that don't scream
'Event!"' said Brandon Gray, president of Boxofficeguru.com. "It's
obviously a lower-grossing period with the start of fall TV season and kids
returning to school so there are a lot of things going on that divert
Some big names are headlining a number of pictures that analysts feel
could break out including Johnny Depp and Antonio Banderas in "Once Upon A
Time In Mexico," George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the Coen
Brothers' romantic comedy "Intolerable Cruelty," Diane Lane in the
romance-drama "Under the Tuscan Sun," and Denzel Washington in the drama
"Out of Time."
Also being touted as a potential moneymaker is "The Runaway Jury,"
based on the John Grisham thriller of the same name starring John Cusack,
Gene Hackman, and Dustin Hoffman.
"Even people who don't like Grisham novels liked 'The Runaway Jury' and
the trailer is really compelling," said Reagan Sulewski, an analyst with
Box Office Prophets.
Sulewski is also bullish on the prospects for the remake of "The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre," especially in light of the success of the summer
slasher flick "Freddy vs. Jason."
"It has the name value and is going to get the biggest promotion,"
Sulewski said. "It's not some generic slasher teen film. It could be really
Gray believes star wattage of Clooney and Zeta-Jones alone will make
"Intolerable Cruelty" at least a mid-level hit and believes such
light-hearted fare as "The Fighting Temptations" with Cuba Gooding Jr. and
"The School of Rock" starring Jack Black also have breakout potential.
The fall season will begin in earnest Sept. 12 with the Nicolas Cage
action picture "Matchstick Men" facing off against the horror film "Cabin
Fever" and "Mexico," which also stars Salma Hayek.
Five wide releases crowd into multiplexes the Sept. 19 weekend: "The
Fighting Temptations," "Underworld," "Cold Creek Manor," "Second Hand
Lions" and "Anything Else."
This array of releases will put an end to several weeks of studio
leftovers which in recent weekends has included such forgettable fare as
"The Boss' Daughter," "Marci X" and "The Medallion." This weekend, the
only wide releases are "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" and "The
Order." Not much is expected of either film.
Come the winter holidays, such a sparse weekend schedule will be
unthinkable. By November, blockbusters will begin to return in force with
the third movies in the "Matrix" and "Lord of the Rings" trilogies, the
Mike Myers comedy "The Cat in the Hat" and mega-stars Tom Cruise and
Russell Crowe starring in "The Last Samurai" and "Master and Commander:
The Far Side of the World," respectively.
Said Dergarabedian: "In November and December, it starts looking more
like summer again."
Greg Hernandez, (818)