B.O.: A ‘Vertical’ Leap

Uh oh, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” might just hit its limit this weekend at the box office.

And who might bring Jim Carrey‘s megahit film down?

Answer: Former boy wonder Chris O’Donnell and his bunch of mountain-scaling unknowns in “Vertical Limit“, that’s who.

“I think ‘Vertical Limit‘ and ‘The Grinch‘ are neck and neck for No. 1, but I would give the edge to “Vertical Limit.” The film is a spectacle, the studio is going for the adrenaline rush, and they have been marketing it very aggressively,” says Brandon Gray, editor of boxofficemojo.com. “And it really doesn’t matter that the film doesn’t have any stars in it, that’s irrelevant for this kind of film.

“But obviously, ‘The Grinch‘ is a major player also, it did $27 mil last week (which was not a huge drop). Plus, it has the momentum, [which] definitely makes it a top contender for the No. 1 spot this weekend” Gray says.

And those two films are not the only battle going on in town, for there’re also the Meg RyanRussell Crowe half romance, half drama “Proof of Life” and the big screen materialization of the role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons” with Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin and Marlon Wayans, among others.

So without further ado, let’s take a peek at all the major releases coming out this weekend.


THE SKINNY: Chris O’Donnell plays a disillusioned mountain climber who’s been pulled out of early retirement to save the life of his sister (Robin Tunney) trapped in a really cold and dangerous peak. What a guy!

THE UPSIDE: The film has being brand new on its side, “The Grinch” does not. Or in Gray’s words, “I think it should be able to just edge out ‘The Grinch.’ It should be good enough for the high teens.”

THE DOWNSIDE: It’s probably utterly predictable and shamelessly cliche — but that’s fine as long as you don’t care about plot development, character development or, uh, stuff like that. “PROOF OF LIFE”

THE SKINNY: Russell Crowe roars as a hostage negotiator who is charged to save an American captive in Latin America but ends up hooking up with the poor guy’s wife, played by, ahem, Meg Ryan.

THE UPSIDE: Finally, we get to watch the film which during its shooting Crowe and Ryan shacked up! But that is if you even cared in the first place.

THE DOWNSIDE: “The press seems more concerned with the CroweRyan romance than the film itself. The marketing campaign for the film seems to highlight Crowe rather than the romance between the two actors. That could hurt the picture because audiences associate Ryan with romantic comedies. [Still,] it will have a decent opening, [albeit] a soft one. It could put it in the low to mid teens,” says Gray, who puts the film at a solid No. 3 for the weekend. “DUNGEONS & DRAGONS”

THE SKINNY: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, “American Beauty‘s” Thora Birch, Marlon Wayans and others play medieval in this rather untimely adaptation of the popular role-playing game in the 1980s.

THE UPSIDE: Well, the film certainly gives the avid fans and players of the game one reason to leave the house.

THE DOWNSIDE: “This film is going to remain in the dungeon,” Gray said. “Fantasy pictures tend not to do well. It’s possible for the film to be No. 5 — and it’s basically between that and ‘102 Dalmatians‘. Probably $5 mil, give or take a million or so.”


THE SKINNY: Taiwanese director Ang Lee‘s homage to a long and persistent Chinese cinematic tradition: the swordsman epic. And oh, it stars two of Hong Kong’s raddest actors: Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh (“Tomorrow Never Dies“).

THE UPSIDE: Hey dude, it’s sort of like “The Matrix.” Or dude, is it actually the other way around?

THE DOWNSIDE: Not to be a tease, but the film only opens in New York this weekend. Why? “[Because] the studio is trying to build a word of mouth for this film. They’re probably praying for an Oscar nomination and have the film go wide,” Gray said.

And don’t forget films such as “Rugrats in Paris,” “Men of Honor,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Unbreakable,” which Gray predicts will take the No. 4 spot this weekend.