It's not quite "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" — but it's awfully close this weekend in theaters. How about "Pigs and dragons and Will Smith, hot diggity!"? That's the trio of characters you will see in three of the season's biggest holiday offerings.
Remember that classic children's story about the pig and the spider and that terribly sad ending? (Don't worry, we won't ruin it.) Well, Hollywood has figured out how to spruce up "Charlotte's Web" live-action style and gathered the most eclectic voiceover cast since "Happy Feet." Listen closely and you'll hear everyone from Oprah and Robert Redford to Julia Roberts and Cedric the Entertainer, all giving voice to a menagerie of animals acting alongside the biggest movie star per square inch this side of Danny DeVito: Miss Dakota Fanning.
What could possibly vanquish a little box-office dynamo like Dakota? Why, mythical beasts of yore of course. Seeking to satisfy your "Lord of the Rings"/ "Narnia" fantasy thirst this season is the big-screen version of the popular book series "Eragon." While this one doesn't feature the vocal talents of any A-listers — rent "Dragonheart" if you want Oscar winners voicing your dragons — it does feature Joss Stone making her film debut and more swords and sorcery than you can shake your "Dungeons & Dragon" 10-sided die at.
For film fans who like their stories a little more earthbound, it doesn't get any more down and dirty than hanging with a homeless Will Smith in "The Pursuit of Happyness." Arguably, there's no bigger star in the world right now than Smith. Whether he's fighting robots ("I, Robot") or dispensing love advice ("Hitch"), his name means money in the bank. Whether that streak will continue in this harrowing true-life tale of a down-on-his-luck father struggling to pursue the American dream, well, we'll know the answer to that come Monday.
Lackluster leaders from last weekend who hope to make strong showings this go-round include "Apocalypto" and "The Holiday." Don't bet on them dominating the leader board this time. There will be a new #1 flick. That much is almost certain.
The Predictions: Predicting the box-office grosses of movies is just like betting at the track — except you won't feel dirty afterward and your wallet won't get any lighter. Have we sold you on becoming a movie maniac prognosticator? Well, we sold our celebrity guest on doing it this week at least. Please welcome everyone's favorite new superhero and the son of Rocky Balboa, Milo Ventimiglia.
What's the #1 flick? And how much will it rake in?
·Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Charlotte's Web" ($36 million)
"My money is on 'Charlotte's Web,' which has so many people starring in it that if half of them bought a ticket it'd probably win this weekend. You know the Oprah crowd will be there — looking for surprise car keys under their theater seats — and I don't see why all the 'Happy Feet' fans wouldn't equally devour this holiday ham. I predict a $36 million take."
·Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "The Pursuit of Happyness" ($30 million)
"I've seen 'The Pursuit of Happyness' and I believe in Will. No one draws a crowd like this guy. Whether it's action, comedy or drama, he is just about as close to a sure thing as there is nowadays. Besides, those dragons in 'Eragon' look lame. Am I right?"
·Milo Ventimiglia, co-star of "Rocky Balboa": "Charlotte's Web" ($28 million)
"I have to go with 'Charlotte's Web,' honestly — kids' films everybody can go watch, and everybody can appreciate it. I think a lot of people who've read that book are gonna want to see what it's turned into. Let's say $28 million."
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