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John Scalzi – Predicting the Box Office for This Year’s Holiday Sci-fi and Fantasy Flicks

The official holiday movie season began this last weekend, and for fans of science fiction and fantasy things went pretty well, as the animated sci-fi film Megamind walked off with a $47 million opening and the top slot for the week. What other delights can we expect for the season, and how will they do at the box office? Here are my guesses through the end of the year.

Skyline (11/12)
The aliens have come, and, if the trailers are to be believed, apparently they see us as tasty, vacuum-able snacks. The film comes across as a mash up of Independence Day and War of the Worlds, and, while it looks like it could be fun in that “Help, the aliens are stomping us into jelly” sort of way, it’s directed by the Strause brothers, who directed the murky and entirely un-fun AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem. Hopefully they’ve upped their skills since then.
Box office? Moderate to good. I’m guessing that splitting the action audience with Unstoppable (featuring Denzel Washington and Star Trek‘s Chris Pine) will probably keep it out of the weekend’s top slot.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (11/19)
You know, maybe it’s just me, but I think this film series is played out. I give it one or maybe two more films tops. More seriously,
if you need me to explain this film to you, the year 2000 is calling
and telling you it wants you to come home. I’m looking forward to
this one because I think the series has gotten better as it’s gone
along, and how many series can you say that about, especially ones that are
on film No. 7?
Box office? Oh, you know, I think it will do just fine.

Heartless (11/19)
Demons appear to be running about London, snacking on the populace,
while a heavily birthmarked photographer makes something akin to a deal
with the Devil. Remember, people, when some sinister-looking dude shows
up offering you everything you want, there’s probably a price.
Box office? Small. Opening up against Harry Potter is a good way to get squashed.

Tangled (11/23)
The Disney animated take on the Rapunzel story. Look, children! Another Disney-princess marketing bonanza! Despite that, yeah, it looks kind
of cute, and I have a daughter right smack-dab in the middle of the
film’s intended demographic, so guess where I’ll be the weekend it
comes out?
Box office? Disney animation and the holidays are generally a good recipe for box-office happiness.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (12/10)
The latest installment of the Narnia series. The last film in the series, Prince Caspian, didn’t perform as expected, but then again it also came out in the summer,
rather than the better-fitting-for-a-series-based-on-Christian-allegory
holiday season. As a consequence, the series has a new distributor in
the U.S., with Fox taking over for Disney.
Box office? It’s
hard to say: we’ll find out whether kids and families are over
Narnia or whether moving these films back closer to Christmas does the
trick. The best-case scenario for the film has it landing somewhere
between the first and second films in terms of gross; the worst-case
scenario has it being the holiday season’s most prominent flop.

TRON: Legacy (12/17)
The most anticipated science-fiction film of the season, hands
down, with entire generations of nerds and geeks just itching to get
back into the series’ computerized landscape and take another ride on
the light cycles. Let’s just hope that Disney’s programmed an
actual story in there this time, because anyone who remembers the first
film will recall that the story line was a bug, not a feature.
Box office?
Huge — not in the least because this is the one film this season that
people actually want to see in 3-D. I suspect Disney is already prepping
a third film.

Gulliver’s Travels (12/22)
Jack Black does Jonathan Swift, and I apologize to you for putting
that image into your head. This film fills the “We are logy with 40,000
calories of holiday feast and now want to daze dumbly at a movie
screen” slot for the holiday season; there’s nothing about the film that
does not say “cheerfully stupid” to me. But sometimes you need cheerful
stupidity. Oh, don’t look at me like that; you know I’m right.
Box office? It depends on whether people decide to see this or Little Fockers for their post-feast viewing. I’m guessing Fockers has the edge, but you never know.

Your thoughts on the holiday science-fiction and fantasy lineup? Share in the comments.

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