It's not Deja Vu, just February
Venturing into the next month, let's see how 2008 stacks up with 2007. As I noted in the previous entry, this coming weekend features a horror film (The Eye) just like last year's top new release (The Messengers). And honestly, I think 14 million (which is what The Messenger's opened with) might not be such a bad haul for the Jessica Alba film.
The top film in the second week of February in 2007 was Norbit ($34m). In fact, this weekend has usually been a week for a big comedy: The Pink Panther (2006), Hitch (2005), Barbershop 2 (2004). With three of the four latest films featuring African-American leads, Universal Studios figured that it was the right time to release Martin Lawrence's "Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins". The other big release this week is "Fool's Gold" starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. I bet you'll never guess what film debuted at #1 this weekend in 2003? Yep, McConaughey/Hudson's "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days".
The other release of note this weekend in 2007 was "The Lives of Others". That critically acclaimed film failed to find an audience so perhaps that is why this year's anticipated foreign language film "City of Men" isn't being released until the 4th weekend of the month.
The top three debuts in the third week of February were: Ghost Rider ($45), Bridge to Terabithia ($22m), and Music and Lyrics ($13m). And as luck would have it, the three releases this third week of February are actioner "Jumper", children's fantasy book adaptation "The Spiderwick Chronicles", and rom-com "Definitely Maybe" (I guess since they didn't have a rom-com about a former brit-pop singer, they decided to name it after a brit-pop album). And if "Jumper" can't make 40 million, Fox is going to be upset. Not only did Ghost Rider make that much last year but it's how much Daredevil made in 2003.
Surprisingly, February is going to be without Tyler Perry. His first two films were debuted at #1 the third weekend of February in 2005 and 2006 and then, last year, "Daddy's Little Girls" opened in the second week of the month. The box office for the films has been dropping so Hollywood has decided to go absolutely insane and move Tyler Perry's new film... to the third weekend of March.
For the third week of 2007, conspiracy theorists will have their thirst quenched again. Replacing "The Number 23" is the assassination conspiracy film "Vantage Point". "Reno 911: Miami" came out to decent numbers last year so it seems like a good time to release Larry the Cable Guy's silly cop film "Witless Protection". In 2006, Michael Gondry did well with his limited late-February release of "Dave Chapelle's Block Party" so Michel and Mos Def are back (with Jack Black replacing Black Thought) in "Be Kind Rewind". Charlie Bartlett is a bit of a wild card but it makes sense. There hasn't really been a good high school released yet so it could have that niche
If Hollywood actually made films featuring black women, this would likely be the place they put it. The only new films to debut at #1 in the last decade have been Madea (2005 and 2006) and Aaliyah (Queen of the Damned). Before that, the last new film to debut #1 was Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx.
The final weekend of February is where things start to break down. Yes, Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan) is back (this year in Penelope) and Will Ferrell returns to the late-February release that made him a star in 2003 (Old School) but Semi-Pro isn't a great comparison to Wild Hogs. And while you could say both films are talky period dramas about young lovers in peril, I'd say that you were really reaching when comparing "Zodiac" to "The Other Boleyn Girl"
In the end, there's one last gasp of deja vu. The first week of March, which was won by "300" last year, is the weekend in which "10,000 BC" opens. (And if you want to really reach, "Shutter" opens the next weekend, the same time that "Shooter" opened last year). But after that, 2008 will thankfully be allowed to carve out its own identity.