By Benjamin Whitener
Staff reporter

With the semester coming to an end and the winter movie scene firing up, two movies hope to bring big numbers at the box office; Invictus and Sherlock Holmes.

Do these movies have what it takes to be box office mega hits? Bill DeArmond, professor of mass communications and film, said that there are five elements to a movie that will attract viewers. In order from most important to least those five elements are, actors/actresses, story, visual effects, sound and director.

Using DeArmond’s five elements we can see how well these movies might do.

Invictus tells the story of Nelson Mandela and his time as president of South Africa. Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman (The Bucket List, The Dark Knight), strives to end the racial segregation in South Africa. As a vehicle for ending the segregation, Mandela looks to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup. His hope is to unite his nation with a common interest. Invictus also stars Matt Damon (Ocean’s Thirteen, Bourne Ultimatum) as rugby player Francois Pienaar. Pienaar joins Mandela in the endeavor to unite the nation of South Africa by building a team that all South Africans can be proud of.

With huge names like Freeman and Damon in the starring roles Invictus should be a box office hit. The story is one of trials and DeArmond said that it might be a little sad or dark for the holiday season. With little to no special effects and little known about the soundtrack, Invictus will have to rely solely on other elements of the film.

Anna Stevens, music education junior, said she goes to movies based on, “the message they have and if they are good quality.”

Invictus is ultimately about finding something everyone can believe in which presents a pretty good message. As far as good quality is concerned, we’ll have to wait to see.

Invictus, Latin for invincible, is based on real life events and is under the direction of Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby) which gives the fifth element major credibility. Invictus rolls into theatres Dec. 11.

Sherlock Holmes features Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, The Soloist) as the title character. The movie takes us through the traditional Holmes crisis that could destroy all of England, not a great new storyline but adventurous none the less. This may be a draw for many Holmes fans though. Robert Onelio, Arkansas City resident, is a film fan. He said, “I read the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and enjoyed them a lot.” Even without having a totally new premise, Onelio still plans to see Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes, a detective, must thwart the plans of evildoers. Alongside Downey is Jude Law (Alfie, Cold Mountain) as Holmes’ ever present sidekick, John Watson. The movie is packed full of action, humor, sex and wit—these elements have worked very well in the past for Downey.

Downey seems to be a big draw over the past few years. Since his major return to the industry with Iron Man, Downey appears to be the man everyone wants. Having Jude Law as his sidekick won’t hurt the female attendance to the film either.

So we have stars, what else will make Sherlock Holmes a success? Special effects maybe? DeArmond said, “Some movies are all special effects.” He won’t see any movie like that. Sherlock Holmes, however, appears to have a good balance of reality and effects. The sound effects and music for Sherlock Holmes should be intriguing and using the wrong music could ruin it. Being a period piece, Sherlock Holmes will almost certainly use adaptations of period correct music.

Sherlock Holmes is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, RocknRolla) which won’t be as big of a selling point as Clint Eastwood, but Ritchie is becoming a better known director.

DeArmond predicted that Sherlock Holmes will be the prevailing film for the winter movie season. The only film standing in its way is The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus which stars the late Heath Ledger. Even with Ledger, DeArmond said, “It was a mistake to have the film open against Sherlock Holmes.”

Sherlock Holmes hits theatres Dec. 25.

Benjamin Whitener is a junior majoring in digital arts. You may e-mail him at