'Eragon': I get to see a fair number of movies for my job, but the one that's prompted the most curiosity among friends of mine this year (as in, "Please please please tell me when you get to see a screening, I am SO EXCITED for it") has been this one. The first book in Christopher Paolini's 'Inheritance' trilogy comes to the big screen this weekend complete with fire-breathing CGI dragon, a newcomer (Ed Speleers) as the fledgling Dragon Rider, Jeremy Irons as his mentor Brom, and John Malkovich as bad guy Galbatorix. Aaaand that's pretty much all I know about it, since apparently the movie didn't screen in New York. Damn you, 20th Century Fox! At any rate, excitement for 'Eragon' in certain circles has reached a fever pitch, so the question really isn't whether or not the movie will finish No. 1, but how much it'll make. 'The Chronicles of Narnia' made $65 million in its opening weekend; 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' made $47 million. My guess? 'Eragon' won't quite reach those numbers, but somewhere around $25-30 million is probably a safe bet.
'Charlotte's Web': I was a complete bookworm as a child -- still am, really -- and 'Charlotte's Web' was one of my very first favorite books. (Well, first favorite book that didn't have pictures in it, anyway.) Therefore, I have to admit I was a little taken aback when I heard that there was a new movie in the works, as I didn't want anything to mar the pictures I already have in my head of Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider and everything else in E.B. White's wonderful children's classic. That said, it's getting very nice reviews, and Julia Roberts (who provides the voice for Charlotte) is one of those stars that I will never, ever get tired of. Plus, Steve Buscemi as Templeton the rat! Genius! So it looks like 'Happy Feet' will be toppled at last ... but don't cry for the penguins. They had a nice run of it, after all.
'The Pursuit of Happyness': Interestingly enough, all three movies opening wide this weekend were based on books. (Go, reading!) 'Happyness' is based on the memoir by Chris Gardner, who overcame seemingly unsurmountable odds to become a successful stockbroker while caring for his young son and living in homeless shelters. Will Smith stars as Gardner, and his son Christopher is played by Smith's real-life son, Jaden -- who's never acted before, but who does a terrific job (as does his dad, who just earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance). If you're in the mood for a tearjerker, then this is the movie for you; there's one scene involving a Captain America doll, of all things, that is one the most wrenching scenes in the movies this year. I kid you not.
If you live in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, then you're lucky enough to get to see 'Dreamgirls' this weekend -- but since it's only opening on three screens, I'll save that analysis for another week. Ready to predict? All righty. Please don't forget to post by midnight on Saturday if you want your prediction to count. And have a rockin' weekend, all.
What's your weekend top five prediction?
POST: What do you think of these movies?
'Eragon': Showtimes, trailer & more | Exclusive clips | Photos
'Charlotte's Web': Showtimes, trailer & more | Five-minute clip | Photos
'The Pursuit of Happyness': Showtimes, trailer & more | Photos | Chris Gardner interview