Follow us on

2014 Preview: November

October 31st, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 poster

October was a better than expected month with the overall box office keeping pace with October of 2013, for the most part. (The last weekend will be terrible, but that's because of Halloween.) We were able to close the gap somewhat in the year-over-year comparison, at least by a little bit. So how will November do compared to October. Let's put it this way. There are only seven films opening wide this month. Of those, Beyond the Lights will likely not make an impact at the box office. Every other film has at least a reasonable shot at $100 million. More than half the of the films opening this month could hit $200 million. Leading the way will be The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, which could hit $400 million. The only problem is when book franchises split the final installment into two parts, the first part tends to be weaker at the box office. Interstellar is a big question mark. On the low end, it could make just over $100 million, while on the high end, just over $300 million is within reach. That's a wide range of expectations. On the downside, last November, there were two movies to reach $400 million: Catching Fire and Frozen. On the other hand, there was only one other movie to make more than $100 million, Thor: The Dark World, so perhaps the depth this year will help 2014 come out ahead in the year-over-year comparison.

Weekend of November 7th, 2014

Big Hero 6 poster

The first week of November has two wide releases, both of which could become monster hits. Big Hero 6 is the latest animated film from Disney and they are clearly on a hot streak at the box office. It won't make as much as Frozen did, but it should have a Wreck-It Ralph like run. Speaking of hot streaks, Christopher Nolan's last three films he directed have earned an average of nearly $1 billion worldwide. It will be interesting to see if Interstellar can continue that streak. Meanwhile, this weekend last year, Thor: The Dark World led the way with just over $85 million during its opening weekend. I really doubt either film opening this weekend will match that, but Thor was the only release to earn significantly more than $10 million over the weekend, so the one-two punch this year could match last year's top offering. Also opening this weekend is The Theory of Everything, which many think could be a player during Awards Season and this could help it expand wide enough to earn a significant measure of mainstream success.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.com/BigHero6
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: November 7th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Marvel Comic, Origin Story, Robots, Inventor, and more
Directed By: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Written By: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts, Don Hall, Steven T. Seagle, and Duncan Rouleau
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, T.J. Miller, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $150 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $195 million

Big Hero 6 feels very much like Wreck-It Ralph. It is a digitally animated, big-budget family film with a decidedly nerdy subject matter. That film earned $189.41 million domestically, so with ticket price inflation, that's basically $200 million today. On the downside, this film doesn't have the nostalgia that helped Wreck-It Ralph. On the upside, the early reviews are 100% positive. Back to the downside, there are two potential $200 million movies opening this weekend and it is unlikely both of them will get there. I think Big Hero 6 will miss out, but it should at least come close to that milestone.

Interstellar

Interstellar poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: InterstellarMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: November 5th, 2014 (IMAX)
Release Date: November 7th, 2014 (Expands Wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense perilous action and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Space Program, Post-Apocalypse, Time Travel, and more
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $165 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

Christopher Nolan is on a hot streak with his last three directorial efforts earning an average of nearly $1 billion on the worldwide box office. Four of his last five films he's directed have earned more than $200 million at the domestic box office. I think this film will do the same. The buzz is huge, the cast is amazing, the early reviews are ... good. They used to be amazing, but have slipped to 69% positive at the time I'm writing this. That's strong enough to suggest good word-of-mouth in most circumstances. However, it is well below Christopher Nolan's career average, so it might be seen as disappointing, so I think it might hurt the film at the box office. There are some who think the movie will be a absolute monster hit earning more than $300 million at the box office. I think it is wiser to be a little more cautious. I still think the film has a better than 50/50 chance to get to the $200 million milestone, but it is far from a sure thing.

Last Minute Update: The reviews have stabilized and the film's Tomatometer Score has climbed to 73% positive. Had it continued to drop, I would have had to adjust the box office potential.

Weekend of November 14th, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To poster

The second weekend of November is the slowest weekend of the month with neither of the two wide releases being sure hits. Dumb and Dumber To is a sequel 20 years in the making (we're ignoring When Harry Met Lloyd). 20 years is a long time to wait for a sequel and most moviegoers might have forgotten the original film. Then again, this film will cross $100 million even if it sells only half as many movie tickets as the first film did. The other wide release is Beyond the Lights, the only film opening wide this month that is expected to bomb. Bomb's a harsh word, as it likely didn't cost a lot, so if it can pull in $30 million, it will break even eventually. It's just that every other film opening wide this month is expected to open with more than $30 million. By comparison, this weekend last year there were two films that earned more than $30 million at the box office, Thor: The Dark World and The Best Man Holiday. I don't think either of the two new releases will match that figure this year, but those two films were also the only two films to earn more than $10 million over the weekend. Meanwhile, there should be two very strong holdovers this year, so that could be the deciding factor. Also opening this weekend are Foxcatcher, which is expected to be an Oscar contender, and Rosewater, the directorial debut for Jon Stewart.

Beyond the Lights

Beyond the Lights poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/BeyondTheLightsMovie
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: November 14th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: African-American, Romance, Musicians, Singers, Big Break, Depression, Suicide Attempt, Political, and more
Directed By: Gina-Prince Bythewood
Written By: Gina-Prince Bythewood
Starring: Gugu-Mbatha Raw, Nate Parker, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Gugu-Mbatha Raw stars as a singer whose career is just taking off. However, the pressures get to her and she tries taking her own life, but is saved by Nate Parker. They begin a relationship, despite everyone around them telling them to stop. This is by far the smallest movie opening wide this week. However, its early reviews are 100% positive. Granted, there are only five reviews so far, but this is a good sign. On the downside, there's not a lot of star power and it is by far the smallest wide release of the month. At best, the film will become a midlevel hit. That said, if it becomes a midlevel hit, it will likely earn a nice profit for the studio thanks to its lower production budget.

Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber To poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Dumblr.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: November 14th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Buddy Comedy, Delayed Sequel, Hospital and Medical, Dysfunctional Family, Road Trip, and more.
Directed By: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Written By: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, John Morris, and Bennett Yellin
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million

It has been 20 years since Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels starred in Bobby and Peter Farrelly's first film: Dumb and Dumber. Dumb and Dumber earned good reviews from critics but was even more beloved by moviegoers. It earned $127 million... it earned $127 million 20 years ago. Add in inflation and that is equivalent to nearly $250 million in 2014.

Obviously they made a sequel, but Dumb and Dumber To might be hitting theaters too late after the original film came out for it to work. We do have a recent example of a delayed sequel to a quotable comedy in the Anchorman franchise. Anchorman 2 actually sold more movie tickets than the original did, which could give us reason to be optimistic. Then again, that sequel was only ten years after the original and it didn't have a prequel soiling the first film's legacy. For that matter, the Farrelly Brothers haven't made a truly great movie since There's Something About Mary, which is also the last film of their's to reach the century mark. They've made more complete disasters than true hits since that movie came out.

Overall, I think Dumb and Dumber To has a real shot at $100 million and I wouldn't be surprised if it got there. However, since there are no reviews yet, I think it is best to be more cautious. Word-of-mouth will be key here.

Weekend of November 21st, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 poster

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is the only movie opening wide this week, so it will obviously be the biggest hit of the week. It will also be the biggest hit of the month and very likely the biggest hit of the year. However, it likely won't be the biggest hit of the franchise. We've seen in the past that when the last installment of a franchise is split into two parts, the first part tends to perform a little weaker than the previous installment. I think this is because the cliff-hanger ending results in a movie that has less replay value on its own. This weekend last year, Catching Fire opened with $158 million. That's the bad news. The good news is the lack of depth. It made ten times more than its nearest competitor over the weekend. As long as Mockingjay, Part 1 can come close to Catching Fire, then the better depth from 2014 should help it win in the year-over-year comparison. Also opening this week is The Imitation Game, a biopic of Alan Turing. It is expected to earn some Awards Season buzz and could expand wide enough to earn some measure of mainstream success.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheHungerGamesExclusive
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: November 21st, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.
Source: Based on a Novel / Sequel
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Dystopian, Romance, Posthumous Release, Young Adult Adaptation, Post-Apocalypse, Rebellion, and more
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Suzanne Collins, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $125 million
Box Office Potential: $395 million

Hunger Games is one of the biggest franchises around with the first two installments both crossing the $400 million milestone domestically. One would think Mockingjay, Part 1 would also cross that milestone. However, there's one issue. It's Part 1. We don't have a lot of examples of this, but when Harry Potter and Twilight split the final book into two parts, Part 1 saw a dip from the previous installment both times. That said, it is basically a coin toss to get to $400 million. I think it will lose that coin toss, but it will likely be very close.

Weekend of November 28th, 2014

The Penguins of Madagascar poster

The final weekend of November is Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest weekends of the year. However, as per usual, the biggest Thanksgiving film will be a holdover, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. That's not to say the two wide releases this week won't be strong performers at the box office. Penguins of Madagascar is the latest installment in the Madagascar franchise. So far this franchise has averaged just under $200 million domestically and since the Penguins are the most popular characters in the movie, this one could raise that average a little bit. Horrible Bosses 2 is a follow-up to Horrible Bosses, which was a surprise $100 million hit back in 2011. I don't think Horrible Bosses 2 will match the original, but it should at least be a coin toss to reach the century mark. This weekend last year, Frozen expanded wide earning second place with $67.39 million. Neither of the two wide releases this year will match that, so it looks like the month will end on a losing note on the year-over-year comparison.

Horrible Bosses 2

Horrible Bosses 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HorribleBosses2.com
Distributor: Warner Bros. Release Date: November 26th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay / Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Boss from Hell, White Collar Crime, Kidnapping, Revenge, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: Sean Anders
Written By: Sean Anders, John Morris, Jonathan M. Goldstein, and John Francis Daley
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

Horrible Bosses cost $35 million to make, but made over $210 million worldwide. Of course they made a sequel. This time around, our three heroes, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis, try to start their own business, only to be ripped off by their investor, Christoph Waltz. They get revenge by kidnapping his son, Chris Pine.

This is a good setup and I'm hopeful that Horrible Bosses 2 will earn similar reviews to the first film. However, that's not a sure thing and if the film turns out to be a dud with critics, it might struggle at the box office. I still think it will cross $100 million, but it might be close.

Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Madagascar.Dreamworks.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: November 26th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and some rude humor.
Source: Spin-Off
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Talking Animals, Animal Leads, Secret Agents, Mad Scientist, Voiceover, and more
Directed By: Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell
Written By: John Aboud, Michael Colton, Tom McGrath, Brandon Sawyer, and Eric Darnell
Starring: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, John DiMaggio, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $132 million
Box Office Potential: $205 million

Madagascar is a strange franchise. Its reviews have steadily gotten better, while the most recent installment, Europe's Most Wanted, earned nearly $750 million worldwide. Additionally, the Penguins are considered the best part of the franchise, although having them be the focus of a movie might be too much of a good thing. Finally, this is a family film opening on Thanksgiving weekend. Okay, one more thing after finally. It's the last major animated release of the year.

I look at the evidence and see a $200 million hit. However, I am way more bullish than most, as the average seems to be hovering around $100 million. Keep that in mind.


-

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, Penguins of Madagascar, Big Hero 6, Horrible Bosses 2, Dumb and Dumber To, Harry Potter, Madagascar, Twilight, Hunger Games, Anchorman, Jim Carrey, Scott Adsit, Sean Anders, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley, Mike Cerrone, Jamie Chung, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Francis Daley, Jeff Daniels, Eric Darnell, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, David Gyasi, Don Hall, Woody Harrelson, Anne Hathaway, Josh Hutcherson, Christopher Knights, Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence, John Malkovich, Matthew McConaughey, T.J. Miller, Christopher Nolan, Nate Parker, Chris Pine, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jon Stewart, Danny Strong, Christoph Waltz, Damon Wayans Jr., Liam Hemsworth, Tom McGrath, Peter Craig, Jonathan Nolan, Chris Miller, Daniel Gerson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Suzanne Collins, Genesis Rodriguez, John DiMaggio, Chris Williams, Robert L. Baird, Bennett Yellin, Simon J. Smith, John Aboud, Michael Colton