2012 Preview: November

October was pretty good with a few films really crushing expectations, which made up for the few duds that opened at the end. 2012 gained about $100 million over 2011 during the month of October. We really needed this success and hopefully November will continue this push forward. However, November is a bit of a weird month. There are five weekends, but only eight true wide releases, half of which open on the Thanksgiving long weekend, leaving the other four weeks with just one true wide release each. There are a couple others opening in the semi-wide level and another opening in limited release with a planned wide release, but even so, it is not a busy month. That said, it is a case of quality over quantity. There are four films that are pretty much guaranteed to reach $100 million, one of which should reach $300 million. By comparison, last November only produced one $100 million film. Granted, that film was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, which made nearly $300 million, which is a huge number no matter how you look at it. But this year, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 should top that number and with the other $100 million movies pulling in more than $400 million combined, it should be a very profitable month at the box office.

Weekend of November 2nd, 2012

The first weekend on November has only one truly wide release, Wreck-It Ralph, plus two films that appear to opening just below the overall positive level, Flight and The Man with the Iron Fists. It's pretty easy to predict which film will come out on top during the weekend. It is a little harder to figure out how well the counter-programming films will do. Wreck-It Ralph has excellent buzz for a family film, so much so that I think it will expand the normal target audience and reach more adults than these films usually do. Flight stars Denzel Washington, one of the most reliable box office stars around and even if it doesn't have a monster opening, it should have strong legs. And The Man with the Iron Fists is another film opening this weekend. The number one film this weekend last year was Puss in Boots during its sophomore stint. The two wide releases were Tower Heist and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, neither of which were big hits. The 2012 releases line up pretty well against those three films and I think November will start off on a winning note.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Paramount.com/Flight
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: November 2nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: In a Plane, Lawyers, Courtroom Drama, Addiction, and more
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $31 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

Originally, I thought this film would be a $100 million hit, despite opening in the counter-programming role. Then I saw that the early theater count estimates had the film opening in just 1800 theaters. Normally when this happens, you can write it off and assume the studio is just dumping a film. However, the film stars a very bankable star, Denzel Washington, and is directed by a bankable director, Robert Zemeckis, and the film's early reviews are 85% positive. Everything suggests it should be a big hit, everything except its theater count. Maybe it will have an incredible opening and very strong legs and will still reach the century mark. I'm not willing to bet on it. I think it could top $10,000 on the per theater chart during its opening weekend and I think its legs will be better than average, but topping out at $75 million is probably as good as it will get. On the other hand, even if it struggles, it should still match its production budget. I think the high end is more likely than the low end.

The Man with the Iron Fists

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: IronFists.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: November 2nd, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, language and brief drug use.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Martial Arts, Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By Star, Addiction, Narcotics, Treasure Hunters, and more
Directed By: RZA
Starring: RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

RZA writes, directs, and stars in this film about a Blacksmith who makes weapons for the warriors of his small village. When a group of outsiders comes to their village looking for royal gold, he has to help his townspeople defend themselves against them. This is a movie that is clearly more style over substance. It is a film whose main selling point is its exaggerated marital arts action. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it might make it harder to sell to a mass audience. On the other hand, the film reportedly only cost $20 million to make, so it won't need to be a huge hit to break even.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Disney.Go.com/Wreck-It-Ralph
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: November 2nd, 2012
MPAA Rating:
PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Video Games, Gratuitous Cameos, Villain Point of View, Directing Yourself, 3D, Natively Shot in 3D, Family Film, and more
Directed By: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

John C. Reilly plays the titular character, a video game villain tired of being the bad guy, so he decides to leave his video game and find a new one where he can be the hero. In doing do, he sets into motion something that could endanger all of the games at the arcade. This film is a kids movie. I don't think anyone is going to disagree with that. However, when the trailer first came out, there was a huge amount of buzz among the Video Game Fanboy community. The countless cameos seen in the trailer generated a lot of internet buzz. If the studio can get these people into theaters, then the film could be a $250 million hit. But, and this is a big but, as we've seen in the past, internet buzz it notoriously bad indicator for movie ticket sales. If these people won't go out to see films aimed directly at them, will they really go and see a kids movie? There is some good news. Given the film's release date, the total lack of direct competition, and its strong early reviews, it should still be a significant hit with families and on the low end it should pull in more than $125 million. I think $150 million to $200 million is a rather safe range, but I am a little more bullish than most when it comes to this film.

Weekend of November 9th, 2012

This week it's Skyfall and nothing else. Okay, that's not technically 100% true, as Lincoln is opening, but that film is opening in limited release before expanding the next weekend. So Skyfall will have multiplexes all to its self during its opening weekend. That can only help the film's box office chances. Additionally, its box office chances would have been excellent even with strong counter-programming. After all, James Bond is one of the most popular movie franchises of all time. This weekend last year there were three wide releases, Immortals, Jack and Jill, and J.Edgar. Combined those films opened with close to $70 million. Skyfall should top that by itself helping 2012 to another victory.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Skyfall-Movie.com
Distributor: MGM
Release Date: November 9th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking.
Source: Original Screenplay, Sequel, Characters Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Secret Agent, Surprise Twist, Faked Death, Development Hell, Delayed Sequel, and more
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and others.
Production Budget: Reported at $150 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

Skyfall was delayed two years because of MGM's bankruptcy. Will this have a major negative impact on the film's box office chances? Probably not. James Bond is one of the best-known franchises in the history of cinema and a delay of a couple years won't result in reduced interest in the film. In fact, it might increase pent up demand for the movie. There certainly is a lot of buzz surrounding this movie, while the reviews so far have been astronomically positive. If its Tomatometer Score remains at 94%, it will be good enough to warrant Oscar buzz. After all, when the number of Best Picture Oscar nominees was increased to a maximum of ten films, it was done so in part so films like this could be honored. It might be a surprise $200 million hit, but I think that's asking a bit too much. No other Bond movie has reached that milestone. On the other hand, even if the film cost $200 million to make, it should show a profit on the international scene, so anything it makes domestically will be icing on the cake.

Last Minute Update: The film reportedly made $80 million during its opening weekend on the international chart. This is well ahead of the previous two Daniel Craig Bond films and bodes well for the film's chances domestically. It could become the first film in the franchise to reach $200 million domestically.

Weekend of November 16th, 2012

Another weak where there's only one major release. There is good news, as this major release should be the biggest hit of the month. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 should be the biggest hit of the month and of the franchise, as fans will be driven to repeat viewings as this is the last chance they will have to see their favorite characters on the big screens. (There is already talk of more movies, but they won't focus on Bella et al.) Lincoln won't be as big at the box office, but it could be a sizable hit, if it can translate early Oscar buzz into ticket sales. Last year The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 opened with $138 million, but Part 2 should top that. It should top the November record. 2012 should earn its third win in a row in the year-over-year comparison. On a side note, while Anna Karenina is not opening wide, there's enough buzz that it could expand wide enough to earn some measure of mainstream success, even if the reviews suggest it won't be an Awards Season player.


Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheLincolnMovie.com
Distributor: Dreamworks
Release Date: November 9th, 2012 (Limited)
Release Date: November 16th, 2012 (Expansion to Wide Release)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language.
Source: Based on a Factual Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Political, Biography, War, Civil War, Slavery, and more
Directed By:
Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Clear Oscar bait. I don't think anyone would disagree with that statement. Unfortunately, it complicates my job, because not only do I have to figure out the film's initial popular appeal, but I also have to figure out its Oscar chances. Should it start picking up major award nominations, it will get a boost at the box office. Steven Spielberg does have some experience winning Oscars. Last year War Horse was a major player during Awards Season earning six Oscar nods, although it came home empty-handed on Oscar night. Will this film perform better? Early buzz says it should and it should pick up nominations in more prestigious categories. Daniel Day-Lewis is considered one of the favorites to earn an Oscar nomination. There are only a couple of early reviews, so it is impossible to judge the film based on that. If it is a major player during Awards Season, it should have a real shot at $100 million. If it fizzles out, $50 million will be more likely. I guess it could perform so poorly in limited release that it doesn't earn a truly wide expansion the next weekend, but that seems almost unthinkable.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Breakingdawn-TheMovie.com
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: November 15th, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence including disturbing images, some sensuality and partial nudity.
Source: Based on a Book / Sequel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Vampire, Werewolves, Falsely Accused, and more
Directed By:
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and others
Production Budget: $136.2 million
Box Office Potential: $305 million

The final entry in the Twilight franchise, at least the final one focusing on Bella, Edward, Jacob. Given the amount of money the film has pulled in thus far, it should come as no surprise that the studio is looking at creating more movies set in the same universe. Since this is the final film in the franchise, it will likely do really well at the box office. It could become the second of these films to reach $300 million, possibly the third. (They are re-releasing all of the films as a special event and New Moon could cross the $300 million mark at that time.) On the other hand, Part 1 did earn bad reviews and even many of the fans were not happy with the way that one turned out. Maybe it will struggle earning $275 million domestically, which would make it the worst box office performer in the franchise since the first film. But it could also be even more potent than expected earning $350 million. I think it will finish just north of $300 million.

Weekend of November 23rd, 2011

This is the Thanksgiving Long Weekend, which is one of the most important long weekends of the year. It is also usually one of the busiest. This year there are four films opening wide and there should be a lot of critical and box office success. Rise of the Guardians should easily top the box office charts over the weekend and it might even have long enough legs to still be around when Christmas arrives. I've heard Oscar buzz around both Life of Pi and The Silver Linings Playbook. Meanwhile, Red Dawn is also opening this week. (Development Hell barely begins to describe that film's journey.) Last Thanksgiving, there were three wide releases, all of which were aimed at families. The direct competition was simply too much and none met their potential. There certainly seems to be a lot more diversity this year as far as target audiences go, so hopefully we won't have the same problems. Also coming out this week is Hitchcock, which is clearly Oscar bait. There are no reviews so far, but given the buzz, it should expand wide enough to earn some measure of mainstream success.

Life of Pi

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LifeOfPiMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: November 21st, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Religious, Animal Lead, On a Boat, Disaster, Marooned, Surprise Twist, Non Chronological, Same Role, Different Actors, Development Hell, and more
Directed By: Ang Lee
Starring: Suraj Sharma, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

This film is based on a book published in 2001 and practically from the moment it was published, there was talk of turning it into a movie. However, from 2003 till it started filming in 2011, it had four directors and five screenwriters attached to it. (Some of the directors and screenwriters were the same person.) This is a troubling sign, but the early buzz is that the end result was worth all of the trouble and it appears to be a major contender for the Best Picture Oscar. Unfortunately, I'm less sure about its box office chances. The film reportedly cost $100 million to make and if it does become a major player during Awards Season, it could last long enough in theaters to reach the century mark. However, even for a film with this buzz and impressive early reviews, that's still a long shot. There are almost enough films to earn Tomatometer Scores of more than 90% with more than 100 reviews to fill up the best picture category. Granted, some of these are clearly the wrong genre to earn a nomination (The Cabin in the Woods, for example). But we haven't even reached November yet and we could have a full slate of nominees. Additionally, there are three other major Oscar contenders opening in November alone, Lincoln, which expands wide the week before; Hitchcock, which opens in limited release two days later; and Silver Linings Playbook, which opens in wide release the very same day. No amount of buzz is enough when the direct competition is that great.

Given its early reviews and its release date, I like its chances to be at least a midlevel hit; however, given its production budget, it will need to perform better than that to break even. I do think its international prospects are stronger.

Silver Linings Playbook

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SilverLiningsPlaybookMovie.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co
Release Date: November 21st, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content/nudity.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Infidelity, Mental Illness, Football, Depression, Death of a Spouse, Window, Dancing, Romance, and more
Directed By: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $26 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Bradley Cooper plays a man who discovers his wife cheating on him and snaps. As a result, he has to spend eight months in a mental institution. When he gets out, he lives with his parents and he tries to rebuild his life to win back his now ex-wife. In the meantime, he meets Jennifer Lawrence, who lost her husband and dealt with serious depression as a result. She agrees to help him win back his ex, if he agrees to help her win a dancing competition. In the meantime, they begin to bond, but as both are troubled, it's not a simple romance.

Both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have starred in monster hits over the past couple years, which bodes well for this film's box office chances. Additionally, Jennifer Lawrence has shown she can put in an Award-worthy performance and there are some who think she is the frontrunner for Best Lead Actress nomination. I think that declaration is a little premature. That said, the early reviews are perfect and the buzz can only help the film at the box office.

If the Awards Season Buzz continues to grow, then Silver Linings Playbook has a chance of being a sleeper hit and could still be playing in theaters in January. Even if it doesn't grow substantially from this point, it should still become a midlevel hit.

Red Dawn

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RedDawnFilm.com
Distributor: FilmDistrict
Release Date: November 21st, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language.
Source: Original Screenplay / Remake
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: War, Rebellion, Communism, Cold War, World War III, Development Hell, and more
Directed By: Dan Bradley
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

The original Red Dawn was a terrible movie. It is much worse than its Tomatometer Score would indicate. It was a film for people who think Team America: World Police is too subtle. It was paranoid, it was jingoistic, and its depiction of war was pure fantasy. It also made a lot of money compared to what it cost to make, so remaking it isn't a terrible idea on the surface. However, one has to ask if the film can be translated into a Post Cold War era? The early reviews suggests something went wrong. The new Red Dawn also had to deal with a number of delays in its release date and is being distributed by FilmDistrict, and they've never been able to push one of their films past the midlevel range. With a reported production budget of $75 million and likely limited prospects internationally, the film will need to be more than a midlevel hit to thrive. And since it has the weakest buzz of the four films opening Thanksgiving weekend, it could fall between the cracks.

Rise of the Guardians

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RiseOfTheGuardians.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: November 21st, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Christmas, Christmas in November, Easter, Fairies, Good vs. Evil, 3-D, Shot in 3-D, and more
Directed By: Peter Ramsey and William Joyce
Starring: Christ Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $145 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million

The last film produced by Dreamworks Animation to be distributed by Paramount. I wonder if that will have an effect at the box office? It is a family friendly film opening on one of the best weekends for a film like this, which can only help its box office numbers. Also, by the time this film opens, Wreck-It-Ralph will have been out in theaters for nearly three full weeks, so families might be looking for something new. On the other hand, the film's early reviews are only mixed and the buzz is merely good and not great. It should have no trouble topping $100 million, while it has an outside shot at $200 million, if it can stretch its theatrical run from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Add in international numbers, and the movie should show a sizable profit, but I don't think it will be a monster hit.

Weekend of November 30th, 2011

Like I mention practically every year, the winter holiday season extends from the beginning of November through till the weekend after New Year's Day. From that time, nearly every weekend is a great weekend to open a major release, except the weekend after Thanksgiving. Last year, there were no wide releases to open this weekend. (Although Shame did do well enough to earn some measure of mainstream success.) This year the only wide release is Killing Them Softly, which is actually earning some degree of positive buzz. So a film earning excellent early reviews is opening on a weekend that is traditionally a dumping ground. That can only help 2012's chances in the year-over-year comparison.

Killing Them Softly

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KillingThemSoftlyMovie.com
Distributor: Weinstein Co.
Release Date: November 30th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual references pervasive language, and some drug use.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Gambling, Mafia, Hitmen, Heist, Narcotics, Addiction, Prostitution, and more
Directed By: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Andrew Dominik and Brad Pitt reunite having first worked together on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. A lot of people thought that film would be a major player during Awards Season and a hit at the box office. It was neither. This film is earning better reviews and should make more during its opening day than The Assassination... made in total, especially since Killing Them Softly has the weekend to itself. On the other hand, the reason there are no other films opening this particular weekend is because it is usually a really bad weekend to release a film. From 2006 through 2011, the number of films to open this weekend and earn more than $10 million during those three days is, let me run a quick calculation, zero. It has been more than five years since any film opening this weekend has debuted with more than $10 million. Hopefully this film will break that streak.

- C.S.Strowbridge

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Flight, The Man with the Iron Fists, Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, Lincoln, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Killing Them Softly