Box Office Blowouts

Despite the tough economy, Naperville residents are still splurging on popcorn and a movie. The national box office stats show ticket sales in 2009 exceeded 2008, and that trend holds here in Naperville as well.

Fans of the 2008 hit movie “Twilight” were looking forward to seeing what teenage vampire Edward and his beloved Bella were doing in 2009. The release of “New Moon” broke records for the biggest opening day, raking in nearly $73 million nationwide. Even with a take that big, “New Moon” ranks fifth in our national and Naperville top five movie list.

Edward’s appeal endures with fans waiting impatiently for “Eclipse” the third chapter in the Twilight Saga. Showplace 16 in Naperville is already taking reservations for parties around the flick’s release in June.

But beating “New Moon’s” box office blowout is a film whose appeal surprised some. “The Hangover” came in at number four.

“When it first came out I compared it to the “Wedding Crashers” from a few years ago, saying it could have that potential,” said Mark Jenkins, Complex Manager at Kerasotes Showplace 16. “It did. It just continued over the entire summer, which is a long time for a movie to be here.”

The movie in the number three spot belongs to the 3-D animated feature, “Up,” which appealed to kids of all ages.

“I didn’t bring my grandson who’s 6, but Grandma loved it,” said Naperville Independent Film Festival co-founder Glessna Coisson.

It was a big year for familiar film themes. The two highest grossing movies featured well-known characters. “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” came in second, making $300 million at the box office. And the Transformers toppled the competition in “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” pulling in $400 million.
2009 was a record-breaking year nationally at movie theaters with ticket sales reported to be strong here in Naperville as well.

And there are already surprises in store for theater owners who are trying to project which will be the hits and misses.

Gutsy Sandra Bullock and the tale of gridiron greatness make “The Blindside” one of the holiday season’s surprise hits.

“That movie came out and it was one of those issues where we’re selling out in all theaters,” said Jenkins. “It was just that popular. It’s continued on through December the same way.”

The movie musical “Nine” features high kicks and is highly anticipated by Naperville film buffs.

“We want to see ‘Nine,’” said Coisson. “Daniel Day Lewis and Nicole Kidman, there’s not a better combination there. I think it’s going to awesome.”

“Avatar” is expected to sweep viewers off their feet with new technology. Director James Cameron has his actors wearing sensors and then producing the finished product with computer generated images.

“It’s supposed to be the new phenomenon of film making,” said Jenkins.

Naperville film critics have a few other holiday recommendations for movie must sees.

“’Lovely Bones’ is the other one. Peter Jackson, who is phenomenal, Mark Walberg, Susan Sarandon, you can’t miss with a cast like that,” said Coisson. “And ‘Precious’ we give 4 stars. We are quite sure that’s going to be something award worthy. There’s absolutely no question about that one. I think it’s incredible.”

According to box.com, the production budget for “Avatar” topped out at $400 million, making it the most expensive film in history. “Avatar’s” opening weekend netted more than $70 million.

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