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2004 Preview: November

November 1st, 2004

Award season kicks into high gear and the Thanksgiving Holiday means one thing: Christmas movies. Christmas In November movies are becoming frustratingly common these days and this year is no different, with two such movies coming out. There are also a few more award season hopefuls that span the whole spectrum of box office possibilities.

Name: After the Sunset
Studio: New Line
Official Site: AfterTheSunset.com
Release Date: November 12th
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence and language.
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Heist
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $60 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Despite his fame, Pierce Bronsan has not been able to translate his James Bond role into widespread success. His biggest hit since taking the Bond role has been the fellow heist movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, which made nearly $70 million. This film has a similar appeal and should have a similar box office, perhaps a bit higher due to inflation.

Name: Alexander
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: AlexanderTheMovie.com
Release Date: November 24th
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Ancient History
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated as $175 million
Box Office Potential: $140 million
Notes: I'm tempted to just cut and paste the prediction from Troy, as most of it applies equally well here. Couple of interesting notes, firstly the film's budget has increased from $100 million to $150 million and may in fact have broken $200 million. So it will it need to make $500 million worldwide to show a profit, which is very possible. Or at least it should be if it weren't for certain cast issues. For instance, Val Kilmer has been box office poison for a while now, and the early ad campaign have really left me wondering if Colin Farrell was able to pull off the role.

Name: Alfie
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: AlfieMovie.com
Release Date: November 5th
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, some language and drug use.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Genres: Relationship Advice
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million
Notes: This film falls under the, "What were they thinking?" category. The world has changed a lot since the original came out, for instance, behaviour that would have been considered charming then will come off as smug and offish now. And because of that, this film may suffer the same fate as The Stepford Wives, also made by Paramount. This has not been a good year for remakes overall, and don't expect it to turn around on the back of this film. Note: this film was pushed back a couple of weeks and the new release date should help it earn a little more at the box office.

Name: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Studio: Universal
Official Site: BridgetJonesMovie.com
Release Date: November 19th
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Source: Based on a Book and Sequel
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Genres: Relationship Advice
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: The original was a bit of a surprise hit back in 2001 earning $70 million domestically and almost 4 times than worldwide. This film reunites the principle cast and should have a similar run. However, reviews for the second novel were not as good as the first and it is unlikely this will change with the movie. So even with ticket price inflation the film it probably won't quite match it at the box office. On the positive side, with a strengthening international movie industry, and a weakening U.S. dollar, it could out perform the original internationally.

Name: Christmas with the Kranks
Studio: Sony
Official Site: SonyPictures.com
Release Date: November 24th
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for brief language and suggestive content.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Comedy
Genres: Christmas in November
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million
Notes: Tim Allen is making a career of making movies like this one. And while this film won't live up to the box office numbers of The Santa Claus franchise, it will still do well enough for more Christmas in November films to be made.

Name: Finding Neverland
Studio: Miramax
Official Site: Miramax.com
Release Date: November 12th
MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Genres: Biography
Production Budget: $25 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million
Notes: Most Biopics appear to be made more for Oscar glory than for a strong box office, and this one is no different. There are a couple of weaknesses that will most likely stop this film from earning widespread success. First of all, when most people hear, 'Neverland' they probably think of Michael Jackson and not Peter Pan. Secondly, even those people who do make the connection probably are not interested enough in J.M. Barrie to justify a wide release. And lastly, the film may not get a wide release. Right now several sources have the film opening on different dates at with different predicted theatre counts. I was leaning towards a limited release, but the studio held a Sneak Peak on Saturday in over 900 theatres and that leads me to believe the film will open in at least that many theatres. If it opens in 2000 or more theatres look for a $25 - 35 million final box office. If it opens in less than 500 theatres look for a $5 - $10 million final box office.

Name: The Incredibles
Studio: Disney
Official Site: TheIncredibles.com
Release Date: November 5th
MPAA Rating: PG - for action violence
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Digital Animation and Super Hero
Production Budget: $92 million
Box Office Potential: $450 million
Notes: It's a Pixar film, what more do you need to know? Well, a couple of things actually, firstly, this could be the biggest film of the year and only the third to break $1 billion worldwide. And secondly, this is the first Pixar film to not earn a G rating, but that shouldn't have a huge impact at the box office as the film will draw in as many adults and it does kids.

Name: National Treasure
Studio: Disney
Official Site: NationalTreasure.movies.go.com
Release Date: November 19th
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for action violence and some scary images.
Source: Original Script
Major Genre: Action / Adventure
Genres: Treasure Hunters
Production Budget: $70 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million
Notes: It's been a tough year for Disney and I doubt this film is going to help much. One of the problems is with the star, Nicolas Cage. After winning an Oscar for Leaving Los Vegas he had a string of hits, enough to make him one of the biggest stars of the 90s. But since then his career has stumbled and he's no longer has the drawing power that he once had. On the plus side, Treasure Hunters films are historically big draws, but the over reliance on American history will hurt this film, especially overseas.

Name: The Polar Express
Studio: Warner Bros.
Official Site: PolarExpressMovie.com
Release Date: November 10th
MPAA Rating: G
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Digital Animation and Christmas in November
Production Budget: $150 million
Box Office Potential: $100 million
Notes: While studying the emotional reaction people have to robots, Japanese roboticist Doctor Masahiro Mori discovered the concept of the Uncanny Valley. Simply put, the less human a robot looks the less emotion reaction a person will have and the more human they are the more emotion reaction there is. However, as the robot becomes very close the human there was a sudden and dramatic change in the reaction. It turns out with very nearly human robots people focus on the flaws, (lack of blinking, jerky movement, etc.) which causes an intense, negative reaction. (This is also the concept that makes zombies so creepy.) The characters in this film suffer from that reaction so instead of being charming it's creepy. While CG can come close to photo-realistic characters, it can't come close enough to avoid the Uncanny Valley, which will hurt its box office potential. Also the film opens five days after The Incredibles and is going to be crushed by that film.

Name: Seed of Chucky
Studio: Focus Features
Official Site: Seed-of-Chucky.com
Release Date: November 12th
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, sexual content and language.
Source: Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Genres: Living Toys and Serial Killer
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million
Notes: Bad news about this film, it was pushed from the prime Halloween season to two weeks after. Not a good sign for a Horror film. This franchise has done reasonably well, at least compared to the First Film's box office. Had this film opened before Halloween I would have predicted a $35 million box office, but now I'm cutting that back to $25 million. A good ad campaign should help expectation creep back up to the former figure.

Name: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Studio: Paramount
Official Site: SpongeBobMovie.com
Release Date: November 19th
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild crude humor.
Source: Based on a TV Series
Major Genre: Animated
Genres: Under the Sea
Production Budget: $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million
Notes: This film is a massive success even before the first ticket is sold. The advanced buzz was enough to get the studio to produce another season of the cartoon and according to reports, the producers have sold an estimated $150 million worth of promotional ties. Which means you will see SpongeBob selling fast food, family vacations, etc. This is a hugely popular show with both little kids and stoned college students, but there is a chance that these groups will be unwilling to spend money on what they can get for free. That will probably stop the film from being a major hit, but it won't be enough to stop it from showing a profit.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, National Treasure, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie, Christmas with the Kranks, Finding Neverland, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, Alexander, Seed of Chucky, Alfie, After the Sunset