The loudest squeals, literally, have to be pitched up in the helium range as the legacy of Ross Bagdasarian pays off big time. Who would have thought that in a world where movies like Saw turn in millions and spawn near endless copies and sequels, where kid CGI flicks have become smartalecky excuses for retelling and retreading old story ideas, something as goofy as the Chipmunks would once again become a marketing powerhouse. One of the movie stories of 2008 we'll be watching will be the reaction of studios, who've carefully noted a 150 million dollar return on only two weeks play of Alvin's comeback flick.
While Alvin and his brother's are using 100's for straw in the habitrail®, a chipmunk named Pip got to hang out while an Enchanted princess over at Disney gave the studio a late-in-the-year 100 million + boost, and while Jack Sparrow and company may have gone over the edge "At Wold's End", treasure was lying in wait for Nicolas Cage and the second National Treasure outing, scoring Disney a two week end-of-year stay in the number one slot. For Cage, it was the second time this year to enjoy back to back weeks at number one and a signal to studios that there's still some heat to established stars in big budget, fun action flicks. That feeling should be carrying over nicely to 2008 for Misters Speilberg, Lucas and Ford, as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is readying for it's slot in the summer blockbuster starting gate this coming May.
If there's more potential to exploit in '08, the authors of 50's sci-fi books must be burning up the cell phone minutes with their agents, or emptying a few Johnnie Walker bottles, after watching Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend finally become the basis for a genuine blockbuster (guess there is truth in the old adage, third time's the charm). Matheson should be sending a seriously fine bottle of scotch over to Will Smith's house tonight. I'm sure the new year is looking very strong over at the Smiths.
Then there's awards season. For the first time in years, the end-of-year-glut of deliberate "for your consideration" flicks brought some smiles instead of high brow literary grimaces. And all just in time to let us forget the earlier glut of "I've got something to say about this war" flicks that stifled box-office, depressed audiences and proved once again (Brian DePalma, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Robert Redford, etc. etc., are you all listening?) that audiences dropping ten bucks on a movie ticket are in no mood to be preached to. Especially when we have 24 hour news channels doing it for you. Instead, happily, the obvious awards flicks did solid business and created interesting and enjoyable evenings at the movies. Films like Charlie Wilson's War and Juno learned from last year's Little Miss Sunshine, while No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood reenforced the market for strong dramatic setting ruled over by dominant and undeniable performances in strong story narratives.
All in all, there's not much about movies to complain about over this Holiday season. The weak entries dropped away quickly while some of the best Hollywood had to offer, was, as is appropriate, saved till the end. Silver screens should be shining brightly tomorrow and there'll be lots of interesting images splashing those screens throughout 2008. We'll be looking forward to watching along with you. Thanks to all of you who read Moviedozer Dailies and click-in at Moviedozer.com. There are changes ahead for both as well, and we hope you'll all be part of our unfolding story. All the best to all of you and best wishes for a safe, prosperous and very Happy New Year.