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New Movies to Crave: Holmes is on the Case Again, Chipmunks Get Chip-Wrecked

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By Chris Kavan - 12/16/11 at 10:40 AM CT

Will Sherlock Holmes and a trio of furry rodents be able to elevate the box office out of these winter doldrums? I have a feeling audiences have just been itching for some big names to bring them out of this funk.

1) I have no problem saying that Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows will win the weekend. Big names, big sequel, plenty of action - this is the cure for the winter blahs and I figure it will make a pretty big impact. The question is, just how big? The characters have been around for quite awhile and the original took in just over $62 million in '09. It's a question of whether adding in a well-known villain (in this case Jared Harris as the dastardly Professor James Moriarty) and an international star (Noomi Rapace, the original Lisbeth Salander) will drive in audiences. The previews do a good job of balancing the wry humor, action sets and mind games between Moriarty and Holmes - I have good expectations for this one, not as high as Dragon Tattoo - but I think it will be a good morsel none-the-less.

2) Joining a crowded family market (Arthur Christmas, Hugo, The Muppets, Happy Feet 2) Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked looks to make its own mark. If word from David Cross is any indication, families may want to pass. I myself only watched the first one - and that was painful enough. I chose to ignore the sequel and I have a feeling this one will see even less love. Considering the dismal response it has gotten from critics, I think it will be a tough sell and hopefully we've seen the last of these squeaky-voiced rodents.

3) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is opening wide next week, but they're getting a jump of Dragon Tattoo by rolling out in 300 IMAX and a little over 100 traditional theaters this weekend. If nothing else this move should be a good indication of how the film will do with wider audiences, but I have hope that Brad Bird can make the franchise relevant again.

4) After a limited opening, Charlize Theron's Young Adult gets a wider push this weekend. It did so-so in its limited opening, but I don't foresee this making big bucks due to the fact I can't see this appealing to a very wide portion of the audience (namely men and the younger crowd).

5) Finally, in limited release, Carnage, the Roman Polanski's four-person show (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly), based on the play by Yasmina Reza, about parents having a nice conversation over their children's playground spat (that devolves into chaos) will also appeal to a mainly select group of people. Despite the talent involved, this has also received a lukewarm reception. Interesting concept but certainly now the kind of film I would seek out.

I don't have to be a psychic to know Sherlock Holmes will win the weekend - the question is will it beat its predecessor and if not, can it least give a boost to the sluggish box office of late. See you Sunday with the results.

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