Hey all. We've got something of a weird release weekend upon us, as if Hollywood is just holding its breath until the Golden Globes airs. Interesting note: If 'Night at the Museum' wins the box office again, it'll be the first movie since 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' to finish No. 1 four weekends in a row. Ben Stiller and dinosaurs, on par with Frodo and Sauron? Who knew?
Here's what's happening this weekend:
'Stomp the Yard':'Drumline' meets 'Bring It On' in this story about the step-dancing scene in black fraternities. I don't know about you, but I've seen each of those movies at least five times -- I'm a sucker for competitive dance, basically -- and the success of 'Step Up,' which had a similar theme, seems to bode well for this film. Given its youthful appeal, competitive storyline and sweet dance moves, 'Stomp the Yard' has the biggest chance of this week's wide releases to overtake 'Night at the Museum.' But it's going to face some tough competition in the urban market from ...
'Alpha Dog':Justin Timberlake makes his major acting debut in this crime drama based on the story of Jesse James Hollywood, a teen drug dealer who kidnapped a 15-year-old to pay off a debt. In the film, Johnny Truelove, the character based on Hollywood, and his friends pal around with their hostage for a while, then realize that they're in over their heads -- and kill him. JT doesn't play Truelove (that role's filled by Emile Hirsch, perhaps best known for 'The Girl Next Door'), but he's the big draw anyway in a movie that'll take at least some business away from 'Stomp the Yard.' That said, this movie's rated R and fairly violent, which may be a turnoff to some; and it skews a little older than Timberlake's usual teenaged fan base. We'll see how things play out.
'Arthur and the Invisibles': The weekend's sole family release, directed by Luc Besson ('The Fifth Element'), combines live action, animation and the voices of Madonna, Robert De Niro, Snoop Dogg and Harvey Keitel in a story about a little boy (Freddie Highmore, of 'Finding Neverland' fame) who tries to save his family's home from the bulldozers by exploring a magical underground world. (Basically it's kind of like 'Pan's Labyrinth' -- which you all should go see immediately -- except this fairy tale's actually for kids.) It should take a bite out of the 'Museum' box office, but as we saw last week with 'Happily N'Ever After,' just because it's a family film doesn't mean it's going to do well.
Also of note: Another film opening this weekend is 'Primeval,' a horror film that stars Dominic Purcell (Lincoln Burroughs on 'Prison Break') as a news producer determined to hunt down a killer crocodile. Aww, Steve Irwin would be proud. But what many industry watchers will be, uh, watching for this weekend is how 'Dreamgirls' does. It's got a boffo per-theater average and is expanding this week, but it did earn less last money weekend than it had the weekend before. Is the film starting to run out of steam? Has everyone seen it already? Or will a greater number of theaters, and all the weekend's Golden Globes hype, push 'Dreamgirls' way up the charts?
It's the most baffling weekend we've had in months, folks. I've taken a crack at it -- now it's your turn. Have a good one, and enjoy the Globes!
Prediction deadline: Saturday at noon