Hollywood already in holiday mode

Fri Nov 7, 2008 3:36am EST
 
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood's year-end boxoffice smorgasbord tends to be equal parts HomeTown Buffet and Four Seasons champagne brunch.

From the animated sequel "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," which opens Friday, to the Christmas prestige film "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," diverse releases crowd the final two months of 2008.

Data service Nielsen EDI defines the holiday season -- one of five on the box office calendar -- as running from the weekend before Thanksgiving through the frame after New Year's, i.e. November 21 to January 4. But three sessions before Turkey Day, distributors are already lining up their most prized releases.

To wit: DreamWorks Animation's "Madagascar" sequel, which is getting a head start now rather than waiting for the holiday.

"It's a movie that feels like it should play strongly all the way through Thanksgiving vacation," says Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, whose studio distributes DreamWorks Animation releases.

Next Friday boasts what will likely be one of the fourth quarter's biggest releases: the James Bond thriller "Quantum of Solace," from Sony and MGM. The Daniel Craig starrer is considered a lock to play strongly well into December, especially considering its huge U.K. opening, much like Sony's November 2006 Bond opener "Casino Royale."

Two weeks from now, over the November 21 frame, wide openers will include the season's biggest teens-and-tweens title, "Twilight," from newbie distributor Summit. Based on a series of high school vampire novels, the potential franchise-starter could sink its teeth into some serious business if the marketplace matches its prerelease Internet hype.

The target audience for Disney's 3-D animated feature "Bolt" (November 26) will overlap a bit with that for "Twilight." But the holiday weekend should allow both to play strongly through their first 10 days. It also could bode well for Warner Bros.' Reese Witherspoon-Vince Vaughn comedy "Four Christmases" (November 26).   Continued...

 
<p>The Hollywood Sign is seen between palm trees and snow dusted mountains in Los Angeles January 7, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>