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Movie Projector: 'New Year's Eve' cheer; 'The Sitter'? Not so much

December 8, 2011 |  1:26 pm

New Year's Eve is expected to be the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
The makers of "New Year's Eve" could have reason to break out the bubbly early, as the star-laden film is expected to celebrate a No. 1 opening at the box office.

The Garry Marshall-directed romantic comedy featuring such celebrities as Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher and Zac Efron, as well as veterans Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, is expected to collect between $20 million and $25 million in North America this weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

This weekend's other new offering, the raunchy R-rated Jonah Hill comedy "The Sitter," is likely to have a more modest start with $15 million or less.

"New Year's Eve," produced by Warner Bros. production unit New Line Cinema for about $56 million, is a follow-up of sorts to Marshall's 2010's hit, "Valentine's Day." That picture was also a vignette-style story set around a holiday, headlined by a cavalcade of stars.

Despite being panned by critics, the earlier movie was the date-night pick of choice for most couples over the Feb. 14 weekend last year, with a strong debut of $56.3 million. It went on to collect about $110 million by the end of its domestic run.

Warner Bros. is expecting a softer opening for "New Year's Eve" because it does not have the benefit of falling on the actual holiday.

However, the studio felt it would be more beneficial to open the picture weeks in advance of Dec. 31 because "with most Christmas-themed movies, once you pass the holiday, the audience loses interest in them," said domestic distribution president Dan Fellman. The movie is expected to appeal mostly to young females.

"The Sitter" stars Hill as a college student who gets roped into baby-sitting his next-door neighbors. The film, produced by 20th Century Fox for about $25 million, is the latest low-budget comedy from director David Gordon Green. Although his 2008 stoner comedy, "Pineapple Express," ended up being a hit with a domestic total of around $90 million, his most recent film, "Your Highness," flopped this past spring. That movie, which also featured marijuana but was set in medieval times, ultimately grossed just over $20 million.

"The Sitter," which has not been beloved by critics, has been sold with a unique marketing campaign. Some advertisements for the movie feature an image of Hill and a phone number below the phrase "Need a Sitter?" The number on the ads typically goes to a voice-mail message left by Hill, though the actor has actually answered the phone a few times himself, to the surprise of a handful of fans.

In limited release, Paramount Pictures will open Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" in eight theaters in five cities. The film, which stars Charlize Theron as a woman attempting to win over her now-married high school sweetheart, has so far received largely positive reviews.

Focus Features will also debut "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" in two theaters in New York and two in Los Angeles. An adaptation of author John le Carre's famous Cold War thriller, the picture has also earned critical acclaim.


"New Year's Eve" premiere: Swank sees every day as a new start

"The Sitter" star: Don't compare us to "Adventures in Babysitting"

Garry Marshall: "New Year's Eve" more than a money grab [Video]

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Josh Duhamel stars in "New Year's Eve." Credit: Warner Bros.