It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas -- in March.
The Winnipeg film production community is gearing up for a couple of TV movies set during Christmastime.
One is Home Alone 5, a direct-to-video entry in the hugely successful Home Alone franchise that began in 1990 with the John-Hughes-scripted, Chris-Columbus-directed hit wherein Macaulay Culkin fended off a Christmas home invasion by a pair of bungling burglars.
The movie, once the highest-grossing comedy of all time, was followed by two theatrically released sequels and a fourth direct-to-video effort. No cast has been announced for Home Alone 5, but it looks like it will be shooting at the Manitoba Production Centre in the next two weeks.
Next week, another film, titled Christmas Heart, commences shooting in town with stars Teri Polo (The Meet the Parents actress worked here previously on the 2007 comedy Full of It) and Tess Harper, whose resumé includes the Oscar-winning films No Country for Old Men and Tender Mercies. The film is a production for the Hallmark Channel, an American cable network.
Both films indicate that Winnipeg is enjoying some success as a winter locale for non-theatrical features, as evidenced by last year's DVD/Video-on-demand releases Wrong Turn 4 and Beethoven's Christmas Adventure.
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Meanwhile, the shot-in-Manitoba theatrical release Goon was the No. 1 box office success in Canada over the weekend, with a gross of $1.2 million, beating out all Hollywood new releases, including Wanderlust, Gone and Act of Valor.
The movie, from director Michael Dowse, opens in limited theatrical release in the U.S. on March 30, but did reasonably well in its European release in January. Despite the Canadian flavour of the film, it grossed in excess of $2 million in the U.K.