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There's only a single brand-new wide release this week, and it's "Invictus." Set in post-apartheid South Africa, the story follows Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) as he joins with the country's national rugby team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) in the hopes of uniting his scattered nation. In addition to featuring a dynamite cast, "Invictus" also happens to be the latest directorial effort from Clint Eastwood.

Also getting a big opening this week is Disney's triumphant return to 2-D animation with "The Princess and the Frog," which was previously only available in limited release. It opens on more than 3,000 screens this weekend, an even higher number than the 2,000+ for "Invictus." It's a (somewhat) contemporary fairy tale about young New Orleans girl who sets out to find a local voodoo priestess after she is magically transformed into a frog. Read More...

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I expect we'll see the "New Moon"-slaught wane a bit this week, especially in light of its not-overwhelming performance through the holiday weekend. Not that $42 million is bad, but it's quite a drop after the $140+ million opening weekend the previous week. Perhaps that was just holiday traffic? Or is declining attendance the sign that the phenomenon isn't quite as big as some had guessed? I'll be following up on those questions later today, but for now let's consider what's new this week.

We'll start with "Armored," directed by Nimrod Antal. This is the guy who's currently hard at work on "Predator" sequel "Predators." So if you're curious about what to expect there, "Armored" is a good place to start. It's also an action-thriller starring Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne and Jean Reno, so there's that. Read More...

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This weekend is a surprisingly big one for the movies, but let's talk about last weekend for a moment. More importantly, how it might inform this weekend. "New Moon" turned out to be pretty popular, didn't it? $140 million worth of popular, including record-breaking box office numbers for its midnight opening and Friday sales. So, on top of everything else opening this weekend, there's also that big, dark "New Moon" looming to screw everything up.

But what else have we got? Well the big one for a spectacle-junkie like me is "Ninja Assassin," directed by James McTeigue. There are shurikens thrown with gatling gun-like speed and rapidity, at least one limb severed for every minute of screen time and some wicked-looking choreography involving katanas and a kusarigama (the new nunchaku, you heard it here first). It's glorious. Maybe not fine cinema in the traditional sense of story, dialogue, etc., but a hoot to see in action on the big screen. I say this because I've seen it, and it was good. Read More...

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To be fair, there are some solid options opening in theaters this week: new releases, expanded releases, limited releases... there's a little something for everyone. "2012" was an easy weekend winner to predict last week, though there wasn't a whole lot for director Roland Emmerich in the way of competition. There's more to consider this week, but it doesn't matter. The box office winner was decided long ago, months even.

"New Moon," the second entry in the "Twilight" series, opens on more than 4,000 screens on Friday, to the delight of Twilighters everywhere. A strong performance isn't in doubt, though it will be interesting to see just how gangbusters the numbers really are. Remember: "Twilight" opened less than a year ago. It performed very well, but it wasn't the record-breaking success that the current phenomenon would suggest it could have been. With all of this time to percolate in the public eye, it'll be interesting to see how the weekend numbers pan out. Read More...

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Before we delve into this week's releases, I want to take a second to give "Precious" a shout. Opening on just 18 screens, the Sundance favorite and Oscar buzzer still managed to take in just shy of $2 million. It's not a movie I intend to see again anytime soon, but it's a compelling work of fiction. And even if it wasn't, I'm a person who is impressed by cold, hard facts. And the big fact here is that "Precious" enjoyed a monster opening weekend as a limited release.

Moving on, this week's star is director Roland Emmerich's apocalyptic disaster flick, "2012." John Cusack and his pals fly around the world, bearing witness to scenes of mass destruction as humanity crumbles all around. Sounds super-uplifting, doesn't it? I'm guessing that this will be the big weekend winner; it's definitely on my "must see" list. Read More...

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Robert Zemeckis, Jim Carrey and Disney join forces this week in what is likely to be the box office-topping release of the performance capture-animated retelling of "A Christmas Carol." Expect the same, old story beats in a fresh new format. And there are plenty of options available for those who crave different degrees of face-meltingly awesome visuals: in addition to vanilla theatrical showings, there are also 3-D and IMAX options!

Those who crave something with a bit more bite have several options to choose from. First is "The Box," from "Donnie Darko" director Richard Kelly. Kelly was kind enough to invest his time in a week-long guest editorship on MTV Movies Blog last week, and he got us very hyped for the "Box" release in the process. The story follows a married couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) who receive a mysterious package in the mail, containing a box equipped with a large red button. A stranger (Frank Langella) shows up to inform them that they'll receive $1 million if they press the button, though a stranger somewhere in the world will be killed as well. Sounds perfectly weird to me and like yet another cult-friendly winner for Kelly. Read More...

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Last week's poll was strange, as it did not really reflect this weekend's box office. The bulk of you picked "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," which saw an 8th place weekend finish and only $6.3 million in ticket sales. "Saw VI" was a close second, and that at least performed well in the number two spot with $14.8 million earned. But the big weekend winner was the low-budg horror flick "Paranormal Activity," directed by Oren Peli, which nabbed $22 million.

The success of this movie has been nothing short of staggering. Last week, with less than 1000 screens running "Paranormal Activity," the movie finished out the weekend at number three with $20 million in ticket sales. Peli's got some stiff competition this week however, as you'll learn soon enough in this week's Box Office Poll. Can found footage ghosts hope to topple a fond farewell to fallen pop star Michael Jackson? Read More...

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It's a strange week for new releases, primarily because the latest, sixth entry in the "Saw" franchise is hitting theaters a full week before Halloween. Traditionally, each new "Saw" hits on the Friday before the year's trick or treaters emerge. Following a trend set with last year's "Saw V," the new entry will have a week to breathe before the Halloween festivities begin. Expect lots more Jigsaw puzzling and gore-nography in "Saw VI," which joins newcomer director Kevin Greutert with writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who penned "Saw IV" onwards.

Also somewhat in the horror vein -- though more in the "hey, vampires are popular vein" -- this week is "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," which I caught a few weeks ago and am sort of regarding as a male-oriented attempt to latch onto the "Twilight" phenomenon. I wasn't a huge fan of the movie, but it is adapted from the first book in a 12 volume series... so I guess we'll just have to see. Read More...

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After last Friday's "cheese stands alone" release of "Couples Retreat," we're back this Friday with a range of options for moviegoers of all shapes and sizes. The big one of course is director Spike Jonze' adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are." I can't really say that it's a kids movie, but anyone who holds their childhood memories of the book close will feel some strong nostalgia for Jonze' interpretation. It's weird and beautiful and oddly aimless; this is as perfect a pairing of director and source as there's ever been.

Next up is director F. Gary Gray's thriller "Law Abiding Citizen," starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx. Butler plays a family man whose life is torn away from him after his wife and kids are murdered. Ten years after the tragic incident, the widow seeks revenge on the assistant district attorney (Foxx) who allowed the killers to go free. All from the confines of a jail cell. Did I mention that Butler's character is an inventor by trade? Read More...

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Last week's Box Office Poll tally turned out to be pretty on point. The majority of you wanted to see "Zombieland," and $25 million worth of you actually did. Good stuff. I didn't get out to the theater this weekend, but I'm going to this week, if only for the awesome cameo.

The coming Friday is an odd one as far as the box office goes. In an unusual twist, only one new movie is officially opening wide this week: the Peter Billingsley-directed comedy "Couples Retreat," starring an ensemble that includes Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love and plenty more. The story follows four couples who go off on a tropical vacation for fun, sun and couples therapy. Read More...

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