Box Office heating up for the holidays

By Kate MacDonald

Winter in the Northeast can be dreary at best. Filled with looming snow banks, icicles, biting wind and frost-covered cars, many of us would do just about anything to take our minds off the potential for hypothermia we risk every time we leave our homes.

What is the perfect refuge? The nearest movie theater. Big screens, warm, buttery popcorn, stadium seating — what’s not to love? This winter, viewers can look forward to some box office hits.

Here are 10 movies hitting theaters between mid-December and mid-January, in no particular order, that will help distract audiences from the blizzards going on outside.

1. “Little Fockers” – Dec. 22- Third in the “Meet the Parents” series, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner return to the silver screen with a few new additions to the Focker family. Greg tries, again, to get in good standing with his father-in-law amidst spying, out of control parties and awkward family gatherings.

 2. “The Fighter” – Dec. 10 (limited), Dec. 17 (nationwide) – Mark Wahlberg returns to his home state in Massachusetts to play boxer Micky Ward, who not only has to deal with the pressures of becoming a champion boxer, but has to handle his criminal, drug-addicted brother (Christian Bale), who wants to train him. Ladies will love the numerous shots of a shirtless Wahlberg, who has obviously aged well, while guys will love the action and fight scenes.

3. “Season of the Witch” – Jan. 7 – Though Nicholas Cage hasn’t exactly taken the box office by storm lately, it looks like his new historical thriller “Season of the Witch” might actually be decent. Cage plays a 14th century crusader who returns from fighting to find the Black Plague has decimated his hometown. When a young witch is determined to be the culprit, will her fate be sealed, or will she be saved by knights?

4. “TRON: Legacy” – Dec. 17 – To be honest, this Disney sci-fi flick looks rather confusing. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) travels to a cyber world to find his missing father (Jeff Bridges), Kevin. Kevin created the world, but is trapped and hunted by villains, and must find a way to get himself and his son out. The graphics look cool though, and are presented in 3-D. The combination of graphic appeal and an all-star cast (including Michael Sheen and Olivia Wilde), may equal a hit for this film.

 5. “The Dilemma” – Jan. 14 – One of the few comedies premiering this winter, “The Dilemma” features a seasoned comedic cast of Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Queen Latifah. Vaughn and James, best friends, must work on the presentation that will save their jobs while simultaneously beginning a mission to discover if one has a cheating girlfriend. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

6. “The Green Hornet” – Jan. 14 – Yet another sure-to-be hit based off a popular comic, “The Green Hornet” features Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, the pampered son of a media mogul who dies. It’s up to him to change his partying ways and actually do something for Los Angeles. Reid must join forces with a friend to protect citizens against a villain.

7. “How Do You Know” – Dec. 17 – As the most prominent romantic comedy of the winter, “How Do You Know” is centered on a love triangle which forms between Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson’s characters. Based on the trailers, the film looks to be amusing but brings nothing new to the table.

 8. “Yogi Bear” – Dec. 17 – As a legendary cartoon character, Yogi Bear and his friend Boo Boo delighted kids for generations. Now on the big screen, they set out to save Jellystone Park from being closed down and losing their homes. During the holidays, this will probably be a decent choice for people of all ages to enjoy.

9. “Gulliver’s Travels” – Dec. 22 – There aren’t many people out there who haven’t read the wildly popular children’s book “Gulliver’s Travels.” So, many will enjoy seeing Jack Black (perhaps an odd choice for the film) take on the role of Gulliver, who appears to be a giant and is treated like a king by the mini Lilliputian people.

10. “Country Strong” – Dec. 22 (limited), Jan. 7 (nationwide) – Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw headline one of 2010’s last flicks as a married couple going through a rough patch. Paltrow sings on screen as a washed up country singer trying to make it again. Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund also make appearances in what’s sure to be a touching chick flick.

2010 has been a great year for movies, and the year’s end seems to be no different. It can also be said that 2011 is going to start off right for Hollywood. So, to beat the winter weather, the movie theater will be a safe haven for even the most critical movie fans. Theaters in this winter are sure to feature something for everyone.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]