JoBlo.com's Box-Office Predictions! (November 23-27)

It's always fascinating to observe the box office competition, the bloody Hollywood gladiatorial clash. To cheer for champions and underdogs, to speculate on tactics, or to hail the demise of the dreadful. And, of course, to witness the weekly reminders that success (or failure) isn't always an indicator of quality.

All through the week, JoBlo.com delivers news, reviews, rumors and opinions on everything about the movies. But when the weekend arrives, eyeballs tend to fall on the business side of show business to see how those all-important numbers tally.

The weekend basically starts two days early this week (sorry if you gotta work anyway) with all the big new releases arriving on Wednesday, so we'll take a shot at the 5-day predictions this time around.

After more than a decade away from screens, THE MUPPETS reunite to save their theater from villain Chris Cooper. The beloved felt creatures are assisted by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and an army of celebrity humans in cameo appearances.

This same Thanksgiving period last year featured some diverse new options (BURLESQUE, FASTER, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS), none of which really got noticed against HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Pt. 1 ($75M), TANGLED ($68.7M) and MEGAMIND ($17.3M). So this year, the studios obviously decided to focus on getting their more accessible material in front of the family faces that will most likely be venturing out after feasting and early Christmas shopping this weekend.

And there should be sufficient nostalgia and recognition for THE MUPPETS to walk away (or whatever their means of conveyance) with the top spot. None of the Muppet movies came close to the success of the first back in 1979 -- THE MUPPET MOVIE ended up making $65M (which would be over $200M in today’s dollars), but 1999’s MUPPETS FROM SPACE only landed $16M (or $26M, adjusted for inflation).

But audiences seem ready for their return, and at least the filmmakers seem to have their hearts in the right place and are receiving a decidedly positive response from critics, including JoBlo's own. And you must have been at least mildly amused by all those sly parody trailers, right?

My guess for the 5-day: $77 million

Ostensibly answering the long-pondered question of how Ol’ Saint Nick delivers all his packages in one night, ARTHUR CHRISTMAS reveals the high-tech operation at the North Pole. But when a crisis arises, it falls upon the slender shoulders of the son of Santa to save the day.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS comes with a top-shelf voice cast (including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Laurie).and the pedigree of Aardman, which should ensure a sharp wit… but not necessarily box office bucks. After CHICKEN RUN plucked $106M in 2000, the endearing Aardman regulars WALLACE & GROMIT only rolled away with $56M, even less than the studio’s first computer-generated attempt FLUSHED AWAY ($65M).

Crowds simply looking for family fun might not be discerning enough to notice the comparatively inferior CG (it’s vibrant and slick but it’s no Pixar, or even Dreamworks), and the prime holiday timing should put it above all the non-Muppet cheery alternatives. But realistically, poor ARTHUR doesn’t stand a chance against the returning teen champs of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN (PART 1). How about third?

The 5-day guess: $39 million

Based on the popular book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”, HUGO is Martin Scorsese’s ode to the art of cinema disguised as the story of a mechanically gifted lad living in the Paris train station in the 1920s.

Scorsese’s last two films (non-documentary) have been among his most successful (THE DEPARTED - $160M, SHUTTER ISLAND - $128M). But while the Scorsese faithful could be intrigued to see the legendary director working in a genre that doesn’t involve criminal behavior, HUGO will need to be tracked down – Paramount is only unveiling it in 1200 locations, around 2000 fewer than the week’s other new releases.

And HUGO may be based on a bestselling children’s book, but the movie faces the hardship of missing words from the tome's title. And it might make some extra cake from the 3D price tag, but it also has ARTHUR CHRISTMAS and holdovers HAPPY FEET TWO and PUSS IN BOOTS competing in that additional dimension.

My 5-day guess: $22 million


TWILIGHT aside, there probably won't be too much play in the holdovers from last week, although adults looking for counterprogramming to all the family fare still have IMMORTALS, JACK AND JILL, J. EDGAR or A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS.

The new limited releases (A DANGEROUS METHOD, THE ARTIST, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN and RAMPART) probably won't make a dent, but George Clooney’s drama THE DESCENDENTS performed admirably on only 29 screens last weekend and could just get enough word-of-mouth biz to slip into the Top 10 yet again.

My stab at the 5-day Top 5:

5. HUGO - $22M



Source: JoBlo.com



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