Treasure Planet, Eight Crazy Nights Race for B.O. Gold

Two major animated releases arrive in theaters today. Is there a fortune waiting for Disney’s big-budget 2D/3D hybrid Treasure Planet, or will Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights make off with the box office booty?

Treasure Planet is a fun, imaginative adventure stuffed full of animation eye candy and breathtaking action sequences. There are genuinely funny moments provided by Martin Short as the voice of a robotic navigator and Emma Thompson in a scene-stealing performance as captain of the R.L.S. Legacy. There’s even a touching human element in the father/son relationship that develops between young Jim Hawkins and the salty cyborg pirate John Silver.

With all it has going for it, Treasure Planet is not a guaranteed gravy boat. Given the lackluster performances of recent animated sci-fi efforts like Twentieth Century Fox’s Titan A.E and Disney’s own Atlantis, and a marketing push that targets young boys rather than casting a wide net, the film is a much bigger gamble than Lilo & Stitch or Monsters, Inc.

Sony’s Eight Crazy Nights, with lower production values and less ballyhoo behind it, will rely heavily on Adam Sandler’s dedicated fan base, which has made huge hits of some of the comedian’s worst reviewed films. Coming off a critically acclaimed performance in Punch Drunk Love, Sandler has proven his acting chops. But the Y factor here is how well his appeal will translate to ink, paint and pixels. This is the first animated film from the star of Happy Gilmore and Mr. Deeds.

Despite a huge opening, Harry Potter’s latest outing shouldn’t factor in too heavily this week, given the trail-off it’s seen in its second week. However, the historically profitable Thanksgiving weekend may provide some revitalization for the family-friendly fantasy.

Also opening in wide release today is 20th Century Fox’s George Clooney sci-fi/romance yarn Solaris from Steven Soderberg and James Cameron, Paramount’s extreme sport-inspired actioner Extreme Ops and Wes Craven’s latest screamer for Miramax, They.