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New in Theaters December 18: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sisters, Chipmunks: The Road Chip

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By Chris Kavan - 12/17/15 at 06:46 AM CT

For four weeks now, The Hungers Games - Mockingjay Part 2 has managed to keep its grip on top of the box office, despite the efforts of films like Creed and Krampus. It has also been a relatively quiet couple of weekends, the whole of December, really. And the big reason? Why - that would be the most anticipated film of the year - the one expected to break every conceivable record (it may or may not) - but, even if it doesn't, I have a feeling it's the only movie anyone is going to be talking about for a long time.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS The anticipation has been building for months (years, for some us - pretty much ever since Disney bought out Star Wars) and now the premiere of the latest Star Wars film is just a day away. I, for one, already have tickets and those privileged enough to see the Hollywood premiere have been positively glowing in their assessments. Surprisingly the details of the story have managed to keep under wraps. Sure, we've been treated to plenty of trailers and TV spots, but what we know is still limited. The story takes place 30 years after the events in Return of the Jedi - formerly princess Leia is now General Leia (Carrie Fisher) in the Resistance while a new enemy in the form of the First Order (remnants of the Empire) have risen up led by enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke (voiced by Andy Serkis) and his top man Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) - a person who holds Darth Vader is much esteem as well as the Dark Side. We know John Boyega plays Finn a stormtrooper on the run, and Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet Jakku who was abandoned by her parents. The two meet up, along with resistance pilot Poe Dameron and eventually find Han Solo (Harrison Ford) along with his Wookie sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). There are plenty of fights, a new Deathstar-like weapon, questionable lightsaber skills, moments of joy, anger, sadness - in other words, everything that makes a Star Wars movie great. Other faces showing up include Lupita Nyong'o as the aged and wise pirate Maz Kanata, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, a First Order stormtrooper leader, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, the leader of Starkiller Base and a rival/contemporary of Ren, BB-8, the cutest little droid you have ever seen (and a primary marketing tool) as well as the return of Mark Hamill (in a super secretive role reprising Luke Skywalker), Kenny Baker as R2-D2 and Anthony Daniels as his fussy counterpart C-3PO. Hey, Admiral Akbar is even back! Anyway, that's a lot to take in but I have a feeling the wait it going to be worth it. The film is obviously going to break the old December record - but the real question is whether it will break the all time record ($208.8 million) set by Jurassic World earlier this year - and just how high the box office can go. Overall, I would say even though it's coming out in December as opposed to summer, it has a very good shot of breaking all the records. That remains to be seen, but even if it fall short, a return to this galaxy far, far away is going to be very welcome indeed.

SISTERS All this gushing about Star Wars like the fanboy I totally am - well, guess what, there are other movies coming out this weekend. Who would dare go up against Star Wars? First up is Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, reuniting again, this time as a couple of (gasp!) sisters who find out their parents are planning to sell their childhood home and decide to throw one, last epic party. This dynamic duo are always fun to watch - lord knows any awards show is brightened by their appearance - and they have done well in the past. I have a feeling this would open to much better numbers if is wasn't going up against Star Wars - don't think a female audience won't be just as receptive ladies - but it will probably land in the top five for sure. It does looks like a lot of raunchy fun and I'm sure it will earn that "R" rating. It will find a receptive audience, I'm sure, just not a on overly large one.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP The other film that will try to muscle in on the non-Star Wars crowd is the fourth film in the rebooted Alvin and Chipmunks series, The Road Chip. Essentially this film follows Dave (Jason Lee) who is about to be married, but the three chipmunks Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) think he is going to shortly after dump them. Thus they set off to stop the marriage - all due to a misunderstanding. I'm sure there will be plenty of chipmunk-ized pop songs here, the Chipettes are back as well - and for the young fans (not lucky enough to be part of Star Wars), this is a safe bet. Once again, going up against Star Wars means grosses are likely to be on the low end. I always find these films are made for the younger audiences - maybe those even too young for Star Wars - and that's about the best thing the movie has going for it.

My expectations are very high - I have my tickets ready and my hopes are high. I'll be back on Sunday when I will tell you just how much money Star Wars made.


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