There are no other moronic comedies currently in release, so there should be little competition for Identity Thief.
Wesley Lovell: None of the trailers for these films excite me, but Steven Soderbergh's reputation alone makes me recommend Side Effects.
Peter J. Patrick: The new Soderbergh (Side Effects) looks fairly interesting. The other two profiled releases look like pure torture.
Tripp Burton: We move out of January and start getting a couple of interesting films, but we are still in the winter doldrums.
Unless you're starring with other aging action heroes in an ensemble picture, you aren't likely to get a lot of people to the theaters. When you're facing off against a movie about zombies falling in love, you're probably going to do worse.
Wesley Lovell: This week's new releases are largely unimpressive with the exception of Warm Bodies, which at least looks like an amusing diversion
Peter J. Patrick: Two of the three films previewed contain tired old actors collecting paychecks they neither need or deserve for one more run around the mulberry bush. The third is a zombie movie. Stay home and watch some old movies instead.
Tripp Burton: Some more dull looking releases to usher in February. (Editor's Note: Tripp's personal pick is The Gatekeepers which did not have a preview available for our site this week, so is not included below.)
I have no idea which of the three dismal releases will take the top spot at the box office and I'm doubtful any of them will. The film that seems the most likely to top the other three is Parker if only because it stars Jennifer Lopez who has fans even if few of them as an actress.
Wesley Lovell: What a horrid lot of films releasing this weekend, at least wide. The limited engagements seem far more promising.
Peter J. Patrick: Just when you think you've seen it all along comes something called Movie 43 with what seems like half of Hollywood opening itself up to total embarrassment - they're running from it and so should you!
Tripp Burton: Some more uninteresting genre pieces come rolling out this year, so i will stay at home where it's warm and catch up on Turner Classic Movies instead.
The year is only three weeks old and we've already had a horror (or horrorish) film release every weekend. Will it be tops of the new releases again like its predecessors? Possibly, but I'm giving the edge to Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. I know that Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn couldn't do it this weekend, but anything is possible in the near future.
Wesley Lovell: I can't really muster up any interest in this week's releases. If I had to pick one of them, I'd go with Mama, but I probably won't go with any of them.
Peter J. Patrick: Big stars in new movies in January usually means big bombs but not always. Could we have one or two exceptions to the rule this week?
Tripp Burton: More uninteresting looking films being dumped by the studios, so I will be using this weekend to catch up on Oscar nominees I haven't seen yet.
One has a trailer of pure excitement and features prominent young actors and the other has a terrible trailer that won't appeal to even the most desperate of moviegoers. I think it's clear that Gangster Squad will handily beat A Haunted House for the box office crown this week.
Wesley Lovell: Even though I have my suspicions that Gangster Squad was postponed due to a lack of quality rather than respect for the Aurora shooting victims, I'm still curious to see Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone together on the big screen. I also think Quartet could be an interesting trifle and am curious about Storage 24.
Peter J. Patrick: Quartet, which had an Oscar qualifying run in L.A. in December, is the only new film which seems worth the bother this week.
Tripp Burton: This is the time of the year when the studios start dumping a lot of material that won't hold up any other time of year. This week is a perfect example of that.
There's only one new release this weekend and it's a horror film. The last such film didn't do much at the box office, but this is a fairly well known franchise, so it will do well, but can it top the fourth weekend of the Hobbit or the second weekends of Les Misérables or Django Unchained.
Wesley Lovell: The first few weeks of a new year are always filled with the dregs of the cineplex and seldom am I interested in making my way out to them.
Peter J. Patrick: Ah, January, the month when Hollywood traditionally dumps its leftovers on film-goers. Time to catch up on the major year-end releases you haven't seen.
Tripp Burton: As we hit January, we get the dregs of studio releases. It's a good time to catch up on all the holiday Oscar contenders.
This week, we're looking at the weekend a couple of days early since we're including two Christmas Day releases coming to theaters on Tuesday. While our thoughts include the subsequent weekend, this is almost a weeklong look at what's coming. Next weekend, depending on how Christmas audiences like either Les Misérables or Django Unchained will determine how they perform next weekend. I give the edge to Les Mis because Tarantino's film looks like it's too violent for the holiday and post-holiday moviegoing public, but stranger things have happened.
Wesley Lovell: I've seen two of the four new releases this week and I have absolutely no problem recommending Les Misérables or Promised Land. Django looks like it may only appeal to die hard Tarantino fans and Parental Guidance doesn't look like that much fun.
Peter J. Patrick: The big Christmas Day release for me is Les Miserables with Django Unchained, Parental Guidance and Promised Land films I will eventually catch up with.
Tripp Burton: This is the last weekend for Oscar-chasing films to be released, so we get a lot of interesting films in the mix!
It's hard to know what films will tickle audience fancies, but after recent history suggests action films doing incredibly well in the pre-Christmas window, it's very likely that Jack Reacher will be the top new release. The Guilt Trip could also surprise as could This Is 40. The most interesting player will be Monsters, Inc. in 3D, which is the only new children's film in a number of weeks and it could even emerge as the top new release. However, none of these are likely to make the kind of numbers to triumph over the second weekend of The Hobbit which is sure to make around $40 million.
Wesley Lovell: None of the wide releases seem particularly engaging and I've already seen This Is 40, which I can't really recommend. I will, however, recommend two dominant Oscar contenders opening limitedly: Zero Dark Thirty and Amour.
Peter J. Patrick: 'twas the week before Christmas and several of the week's new films have already won major critics' awards. Though certainly not holiday movies, Zero Dark Thirty and Amour look to be rewarding movie-going experiences nonetheless.
Tripp Burton: The Holiday film season picks up this week, with some big Hollywood releases chasing big box office combining with some smaller films chasing big Oscar runs (and a couple chasing both).
We've been waiting three weeks for a knock-out box office debut and we'll finally get it this week with the long-awaited prequel trilogy The Hobbit. How high it performs will depend on word of mouth and repeat business. Critics have been appreciative, but a bit underwhelmed, but that shouldn't dissuade ardent fans.
Wesley Lovell: I'm a fan of the original trilogy and I'm a fan of the J.R.R. Tolkien books, so I have absolutely no hestitation in recommending it. I even have my tickets already.
Peter J. Patrick: Peter Jackson making a film of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, his prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, was a good idea. Stretching it out over another three long movies may be another story. We'll see.
Tripp Burton: One of the biggest releases of the year comes this weekend, so all the other studios seem to be holding back on interesting fare.
With nothing but holdovers to face as competition, Playing for Keeps has an open field to make an attempt at number one. The film only needs to bank around $10 million to achieve that, but considering how poorly Gerard Butler's films have been opening, it might fail to top the umpteenth week of Breaking Dawn, Part 2 or Skyfall.
Wesley Lovell: It isn't the most exciting of weeks and while Hyde Park on Hudson was once a potential Oscar darling, critics haven't been kind. Of all of the week's releases, the only one that appeals to me in any respect is In Our Nature and that's only because of the cast.
Peter J. Patrick: Playing for Keeps and Deadfall are recycled titles, hopefully the films themselves aren't the same old same old. The latter from the director of The Counterfeiters sounds quite promising. On the other hand we have the savagely reviewed Hyde Park on Hudson finally seeing the light of day during this busy pre-holiday season. To go or not to go, that is the question.
Tripp Burton: Another slow weekend at the box office, with little to get excited about. Maybe it's the extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this hasn't been too exciting of a holiday season yet!
The weekend after Thanksgiving is typically one of the dullest ever. It's where studios dump genre flicks that they hope will pick up a few leftover scraps while the holdovers from Thanksgiving continue to dominate. While I can envision a situation where all four of these titles fail to break the top 5, The Collection and Killing Them Softly have the best chance at performing modestly well. I give the edge to The Collection since Brad Pitt hasn't been a box office draw in some years and it's been awhile since a horror film attempted to break into the top 10. And with The Collection being a sequel to a cult horror favorite, it could draw a decent audience from among the faithful.
Wesley Lovell: I am so underwhelmed by the potential selections this week, I'll make my rare "None of the Above" selection. While some of these titles might have their potential interest among moviegoers, I'm not the best audience for any of them.
Peter J. Patrick: The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, except for limited Oscar bait releases, are usually a dumping ground for films no one of sound mind wants to see. This week's releases fit the mold.
Tripp Burton: We take a break from the major Oscar contenders, instead letting a group of genre films invade the box office for one weekend.
We could have a record-breaking Thanksgiving on our hands. Not only is Breaking Dawn, Part 2 bound to hold over well, all three of the week's new releases have the potential of blockbuster openings. The most likely recipient of high attendance is Rise of the Guardians. Family films should do very well on a holiday that sees families coming together. Red Dawn is likely to be the weakest entry, but after the less-than-expected debut of Breaking Dawn, Part 2, young adult and teen audiences may be compelled to check out a different film over the weekend. Life of Pi is the biggest question mark. The film has had a stellar preview, but will enough audiences know what the film's about or care enough to check it out. This could be like last year's Hugo, a mediocre debut and a satisfying, if unexceptional run at the box office. It could also be a huge hit.
Wesley Lovell: The Thanksgiving weekend is always fairly packed, but this year seems especially strong in terms of potential Oscar contenders. It was also fairly hard to pick just two films as a personal choice.
Peter J. Patrick: Looks like a busy week for Oscar watchers with Ang Lee's highly anticipated Life of Pi opening wide and both the fun sounding Hitchcock and more austere Rust and Bone opening in limited runs.
Tripp Burton: Thanksgiving weekend is always home to some of the non-prestige Holiday films, but this year in addition to Red Dawn and Rise of the Guardians we also get the highly-anticipated, awards-baity Life of Pi. I think the limited releases look much more interesting.
If this were nearly any other weekend this year, we would be talking about whether the week's new releases could catch up to the likely stellar second week totals of Skyfall. Unfortunately, it will finish a distant second to the final chapter of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. The paranormal romance novel has been one of the biggest hits in recent cinema history and should find a very strong box office result for the last part. Whether it will be the highest grossing opening in the franchise seems foregone, but can it be the highest grosser of the franchise? That might be a close contest.
Wesley Lovell: Even though Silver Linings Playbook is one of the year's major Oscar players, I'm far more intrigued by Anna Karenina. Price Check might be worth checking out, but I can't bring myself to building up much interest. All I can say about Breaking Dawn, Part 2 is that I'm glad it's finally over.
Peter J. Patrick: A couple of Oscar films to check out this week. Early reviews of Silver Linings Playbook have been generally favorable, although there are some who find its depiction of mental illness distasteful. The latest version of Anna Karenina has been decidedly mixed. Still, both seem to be intriguing enough to check out for yourself.
Tripp Burton: A couple of the big Oscar contenders are coming out this weekend, and they look to be some of the most interesting films of the year.
Everyone seemed to want to stay away from the weekend that the long anticipated Bond film released. Skyfall has the weekend to itself and with no audience competition from Wreck-It Ralph's second week, it should have no problem topping the chart. Although the franchise has solid openings, nothing has ever been spectacular. That could change with a critically acclaimed third outing for Daniel Craig. It's made a staggering amount overseas, so the U.S. should be fertile ground.
Wesley Lovell: It's a fairly impressive week with the latest Bond film paired with the latest Spielberg historical epic. Even Denmark's Oscar entry seems like a strong bet for entertainment.
Peter J. Patrick: This looks like an Oscarphile's dream week with three major films opening. Skyfall looks to be the smartest, most eagerly antipated Bond film since the glory days of From Russia, With Love and Goldfinger. Lincoln has been getting mixed reviews but is too important a film to dismiss and A Royal Affair is Denmark's pick for this year's Foreign Film Oscar, a story previously told on screen as Loves of a Dictator in 1935.
Tripp Burton: The major releases are getting bigger and more long-awaited as we get into the holiday season...this year we get a new James Bond and a new Steven Spielberg, always major tent poles no matter what year or season we are in.
With no major family release since Hotel Transylvania, Wreck-It Ralph should be able to take a large bite out of the box office (though numbers may be a bit depressed with the East Coast in the path of a hurricane). Combined with its appeal to video game enthusiasts, Wreck-It Ralph will easily trump the week's other two wide releases.
Wesley Lovell: Apart from its Oscar chances, I have little desire to see Flight. My interest lies in Wreck-It Ralph among this week's entries, though I will probably catch Flight at some point. The indie offerings aren't particularly exciting to me.
Peter J. Patrick: This week's one major release is Robert Zemeckis' Flight, the director's first live actoin film in twelve years which looks to be a showcase for Denzel Washington. The only other film I might be persuaded to see in theaters is This Must Be the Place for its fine ensemble cast led by Sean Penn and Frances McDormand.
Tripp Burton: Flight is the weekend's big release, both commercially and in terms of Oscar hopes...it looks like Oscar season is finally upon us!