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Picking 2008's movie winners

December 28, 2007|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

The movie release schedule for next year remains tentative and most of the films are unfinished. So picking the box-office hits of 2008, on a month-by-month basis, is more guesswork at this stage than projection, but here goes.

January: Fox's "27 Dresses" could be another hit comedy from the screenwriter of "The Devil Wears Prada," and Sylvester Stallone, who resuscitated the "Rocky" franchise with "Rocky Balboa," might do it again with "Rambo," from Lionsgate. But our hunch is that Paramount's "Cloverfield," from producer J.J. Abrams, will do the most damage.

February: Disney's 3-D event "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" is registering brisk advance sales and will be the revenue-per-theater queen. In total box office, Fox's sci-fi thriller "Jumper" from director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") might edge out the Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey romance "Fool's Gold" from Warner Bros. and the Will Ferrell hoops farce "Semi-Pro" from New Line.

March: Fox's animated "Horton Hears a Who" has the voice of Jim Carrey, Warner's "10,000 B.C." has prehistoric action and Paramount's teen comedy "Drillbit Taylor" has heart. But Tyler Perry's "Meet the Browns" from Lionsgate has an edge with Perry back in his trademark Madea role.

April: Director-star George Clooney is taking his time finishing Universal's 1920s football tale "Leatherheads," costarring Renee Zellweger, so maybe he can outscore the Tina Fey comedy "Baby Mama" (also from Universal) and the Jet Li-Jackie Chan face-off "Forbidden Kingdom" from Lionsgate.

May: The opening of the summer popcorn season includes Paramount's "Iron Man," Warner's "Speed Racer" and Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." But our pick, despite a title that is irking fan-boys, is Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."

June: Another month of would-be blockbusters includes DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" with the voice of Jack Black, Edward Norton as "The Incredible Hulk" from Universal, Steve Carell in Warner's "Get Smart" and Paramount's Mike Myers comedy "The Love Guru." But never bet against Disney's Pixar animation team, whose next is the robot tale "Wall-E."

July: You're also not supposed to bet against Will Smith (up next in Sony's unusual fantasy "Hancock") or Ferrell (whose summer comedy is "Step Brothers," also from Sony). But Christopher Nolan's new Batman film, "The Dark Knight" from Warner Bros., has fans of his 2005 "Batman Begins" eagerly awaiting.

August: Contenders include Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," the female-friendly "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" from Warner Bros., and Seth Rogen stretching his acting wings in Sony's stoner comedy "Pineapple Express." But the big dog may be Disney's "South of the Border," about a ritzy Beverly Hills Chihuahua stranded in Mexico.

September: Universal's adrenaline-charged "Death Race," with Jason Statham and Joan Allen, should be in the photo finish, but Paramount's Eddie Murphy comedy "Nowhereland" figures to laugh last.

October: Director Ridley Scott's untitled adaptation of the CIA-al Qaeda novel "Body of Lies" from Warner Bros. looks promising, but Lionsgate's "Saw V," next up in a Halloween tradition for horror fans, will torture the critics and the competition.

November: Sony's untitled James Bond movie and DreamWorks' "Madagascar" sequel appear imposing, but Warner's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will rule, even if fans of the novels know how it all ends.

December: The lineup has a Will Smith drama ("Seven Pounds" from Sony) and comedies starring Jim Carrey ("Yes Man" from Warner Bros. ) and Adam Sandler ("Bedtime Stories" from Disney ). But resistance to the ultimate geek reboot "Star Trek" (Paramount) is futile.

--

josh.friedman@latimes.com

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