BOXOFFICE asked exhibition industry pros which films will be surprises at the box office this year.

Predicting 2009's Sleeper Hits

on January 12, 2009 by Phil Contrino

Looking at what 2009 has in store for moviegoers, it's fairly easy to predict which films will deliver at the box office.

2009 is a year full of sequels, which means that there may be less surprises than usual. Everyone in the film industry is pretty much in agreement that films such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Transformers: Rise of the Fallen, Terminator: Salvation and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs are going to be huge hits.

What about the sleepers? You know, those films that deliver at the box office even though they didn't find their way to the top of blockbuster prediction lists.

No worries. Exhibition industry pros already have their own opinions about which films may come to represent the definition of "sleeper" in 2009.

Hannah Montana 3D was a bit of a surprise 'sleeper' hit last year. Fandango sold more than 30% of Hannah ’s opening weekend box office, and based on that success, we hope and expect that Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience and The Hannah Montana Movie will be similarly popular with advance ticketing, along with many other titles during 2009, as it’s shaping up to be a very exciting year at the movies,” Rick Butler, Chief Operating Officer of Fandango told B OXOFFICE.

While expectations are already high, Walt Borchers, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for thinks that Paramount's new Star Trek film is going to perform surprisingly well. If Trek is able to top the likes of Half-Blood Prince and Transformers, then it could be viewed as a kind of "super sleeper."

Larry Collins, Senior Vice President of Film for Carmike Cinemas thinks that the combination of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in this June's The Proposal will lead to one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year.

Staying in the romantic comedy genre, Jeremy Devine, Vice President of Marketing for Rave Motion Pictures sees a lot of potential in May's The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which stars Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Lacey Chabert and Michael Douglas. Devine also predicts that June's Year One, a caveman comedy starring Jack Black and Michael Cera ( Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist ) will have some serious box office potential. One is directed by Harold Ramis and produced by Judd Apatow.

Other potential sleepers:

The Ugly Truth : Last year, Katherine Heigl proved that she was perfectly capable of carrying a film on her own with 27 Dresses. The rom-com turned out to be one of 20th Century Fox's few genuine hits in '08 thanks to an incredibly healthy domestic haul of $76.8 million. Heigl may very well be able to top that with this April's Truth. The young actress stars as a TV producer who is forced to work on a show with a womanizing guru played by Gerard Butler.

This Side of the Truth : The cast pretty much says it all for this March release. It stars Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, Christopher Guest and Rob Lowe.

17 Again : After the success of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Zac Efron carries a lot of box office clout. This comedy will put that clout to the test in a big way. Expect Efron to deliver.

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