Fox’s Secret Weapon

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 9 2009 12:09 PM

Fox’s Secret Weapon

Could James Cameron's Avatar kill 20 th Century Fox? According to today's New York Times , probably not. Michael Cieply reports that Fox has brought in outside investors to minimize the company's risk in the event that the $500 million Blue Man Group-in-outer space flick turns out to be a Heaven's Gate -style megaflop . Along with this smart financial buffering, the Times piece reveals that "Fox is backing up Mr. Cameron's movie with what an executive recently called the studio's 'secret weapon.' " What is this secret weapon that has the power to stave off potential bankruptcy? Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel .

Fox's confidence in the  Squeakquel is easy to understand: Despite rotten reviews , the company's first foray into computer-generated rodentia—2007's Jason Lee starrer Alvin and the Chipmunks —brought in $217 million. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel , which opens on Christmas Day (a week after Avatar 's debut), appears to follow the same high-pitched formula. Check out the trailer below—interspecies romance! the best furball football catching since Air Bud: Golden Receiver !—and judge for yourself if Fox's confidence is misplaced.

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Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.