'Alvin' sequel, 'Sherlock' taking on 'Avatar'
VIDEO: 'It's Complicated' also bows wide over holiday frameLike so many pricey Christmas presents, Hollywood opens a pair of wide releases Friday, while a third -- Fox's animated feature "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" -- unspools Wednesday to get a jump on the holiday frame.
Warner Bros.' Robert Downey Jr. starrer "Sherlock Holmes" is a stronger candidate to top the three-day session, eyeing $50 million or more through Sunday. But don't count out Fox's sci-fi actioner "Avatar," which could outdistance "Sherlock" with an unusually strong sophomore session following its $77.3 million debut last weekend.
Helmed by comedy maven Betty Thomas, "Alvin" should ring up opening-weekend boxoffice just short of the $44 million domestic debut of its 2007 predecessor. Holiday celebrations might dilute its Friday grosses modestly, and in any event some of the boxoffice cream for the Chipmunks tale will have been scooped off the top in its first two days prior to hitting the weekend.
Also bowing Friday, Universal's romantic comedy "It's Complicated," starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, should figure somewhere in the upper rankings, with double-digit millions for the holiday frame.
"Avatar" was hampered in its opening weekend by an East Coast snowstorm, which appeared to keep the pricey 3D release from fetching as much as it might have on Saturday. For that reason, the film could post an unusually strong market hold this time around as those who missed out on checking it out last weekend play catch-up.
The Guy Ritchie-directed "Sherlock" co-stars Jude Law and Rachel McAdams. A co-production with Village Roadshow, the film appears to boast broad prerelease interest, though critical reaction bears watching.
"Complicated," for which Streep earned a Golden Globes nom, was directed by Nancy Meyers ("The Holiday"). Its prospects for the weekend are tied to support among older female moviegoers.
Also this frame, a handful of platform pics will mount important expansions. Those include the Weinstein Co.'s musical "Nine," Focus Features' drama "A Serious Man" and Paramount's George Clooney starrer "Up in the Air."
On an industrywide basis, Hollywood has a tough year-earlier comparison this session. Boxoffice for the weekend of Dec. 26-28 totaled a huge $201.6 million in a post-Christmas frame including the $36.4 million bow by Fox comedy "Marley & Me" and three other $20 million-plus openings.
On the other hand, the industry's year-end tally will be fattened by an extra weekend squeezed into 2009, namely next weekend's New Year's frame. Nielsen EDI always starts its boxoffice year on the first business day after New Year's weekend, which this time will be Jan. 4.