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2015 Preview: November

November 1st, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

October has come to an end and everyone should be happy about that. Except for The Martian, there were no serious hits that opened last month. There were more outright bombs than even midlevel hits. Fortunately, October of last year wasn't spectacular either, so 2015 maintains a healthy lead over 2014. Even more fortunately, November looks fantastic. There are four films that have the potential to earn $200 million or more. The biggest of these is the final Hunger Games movie, which should reach $400 million. Spectre has a real shot at $300 million and could be the biggest hit in the franchise. Meanwhile, nearly every November there's an animated kids movie that becomes a monster hit. This year, The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur are both aiming for that box office milestone. The last time we didn't have a family film that earned at least $100 million in November was 2011 and that's because there were four family films that opened in the final two weeks of the month and that much competition meant they cannibalized each other. Both of these has a shot at $200 million and if neither of them reached $200 million, I would be shocked. Meanwhile, last November was a good month at the top with three monster hits: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, Big Hero 6, and Interstellar. However, after those three films, there were not much positive to talk about. It really looks like 2015 will match 2014 at the top, plus it could have better depth. I might be a little too optimistic, but I think November is going to be a great month at the box office.

Weekend of November 6th, 2015

Spectre

The first weekend of the month has two potential monster hits. Spectre is the latest James Bond movie and some think it has a shot at becoming the biggest James Bond movie of all time. It better have a shot, because something went wrong during production and the budget ballooned to over $300 million. If it doesn't become at least the second biggest hit in the franchise, it might not break even. The second film released this week is The Peanuts Movie. Granted, it is going up against what could be a $1 billion worldwide hit, but there's not a lot of direct competition between it and Spectre, so that shouldn't do too much damage. Additionally, it is the first animated film since Hotel Transylvania 2, so there's built up demand. If it can sell the nostalgia to the parents and the characters to the kids, this could be a $200 million hit. This weekend last year, there were two monster hits, Big Hero 6 and Interstellar. Combined, those two films opened with more than $100 million. Spectre might open with $100 million by itself, while The Peanuts Movie should also open well. I think the month is going to get off to a great start in the year-over-year comparison.

The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PeanutsMovie.com
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 6th, 2015
MPAA Rating: G for general admission
Source: Based on Comic Strip
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Archival Footage of Previous Installment, Animal Lead, World War I, In a Plane, Fantasy Sequence, Baseball, Hockey, New Guy/Girl in School, 3-D - Shot in 3-D, Same Actor, Multiple Roles, Love at First Sight
Directed By: Steve Martino
Written By: Charles Schulz, Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Rebecca Bloom, Venus Schultheis
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $175 million

The Peanuts Movie is a movie that has a lot of upside. It is based on a beloved comic strip that has been going on for longer than most people reading this have been alive. This means a lot of parents with kids the right age to see this movie likely grew up either reading the comic strip or watching the TV specials. That amount of nostalgia has to help the film's box office chances. Additionally, while there are still no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes there is some early buzz from people who have seen early screenings and nearly all of this buzz is positive. Furthermore, it is the first animated film since Hotel Transylvania 2 to get a wide release and it is closer to the Holiday season. The only downside is The Good Dinosaur, which is opening in a few weeks, could prove to be tough competition. Even so, if this film doesn't at least come close to matching Hotel Transylvania 2, I will be surprised.

Spectre

Spectre poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: 007.com
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: November 6th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agent, Shadowy Organization, The Past Catching up with You, Development Hell
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: John Logan, Neil Purvis, Rob Wade
Starring: Daniel Craig
Production Budget: Reported at $300 million
Box Office Potential: $305 million

The James Bond franchise is one of the biggest franchises of all time, regardless of how you measure it. The total number of movies, the domestic or worldwide box office, the longevity. No matter how you look at it, the franchise is at or near the top. Not only that, but the most recent installment, Skyfall, was a $1 billion worldwide hit. That puts a lot of pressure on Spectre to perform at the box office. There are some good signs, including 77% postive early reviews. That is good enough that the word-of-mouth should help the legs. The buzz is loud enough that a $75 million opening would be considered disappointing, while a $100 million opening isn't out of the question. It has essentially a 50/50 chance to become the biggest hit of the franchise here and become the second Bond film to reach $1 billion worldwide. It needs to come close to that figure, because it cost $300 million to make and anything less than $600 million worldwide could result in a loss for the studio.

Last Minute Update: The film is breaking records in the U.K., which means it should become the biggest hit in the franchise here. I'm not changing my box office prediction, because I assumed it would break records, so this just reinforces my opinions.

Weekend of November 13th, 2015

By the Sea

The first weekend of November has two potential monster hits, so it goes without saying that the second weekend is a lot less explosive at the box office. There are two films that are definitely opening wide, The 33 and Love the Coopers, plus another that is most likely opening wide, By the Sea. (There is another film opening this week, My All-American, but it appears to be opening in limited release. It might be opening semi-wide, or it might be opening in less than a dozen theaters. Regardless, we won't be including it here.) None of the three wide releases are expected to be even midlevel hits. By the Sea is written, directed, and stars Angelina Jolie, so it has the most explosive potential, but it is more likely all three films will bomb rather than anyone of them will be a significant box office hit. Fortunately, both The Peanuts Movie and Spectre will still be very potent at the box office and both could top Dumb and Dumber To, which led the way this weekend last year.

The 33

The 33 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: The33movie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 13th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Underground, Disaster, Chile, Rescue, Media Circus, Archive Footage
Directed By: Patricia Riggen
Written By: Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Thomas Michael, Jose Rivera, Hector Tobar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

On the one hand, The 33 feels like Oscar-bait. It is a film based on a real life disaster, which is something Awards Season voters usually love. On the other hand, the early reviews are not good. The film's Tomatometer Score is 44% positive, which isn't a disaster, but certainly won't help the box office numbers. Additionally, the star power isn't great and the story doesn't have a direct connection to audiences here. Add in the other new releases coming out this week and the massive holdovers and this film has very little chance to become a box office hit. It should do well internationally, having already pulled in $10 million in Latin America.

By the Sea

By the Sea poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ByTheSeaMovie.net
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: November 13th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexuality, nudity, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By the Star, Family Affair, Relatives Playing Relatives, 1970s, Relationships Gone Wrong, Domestic Abuse, France
Directed By: Angelina Jolie-Pitt
Written By: Angelina Jolie-Pitt
Starring: Angelina Jolie-Pitt and Brad Pitt
Production Budget: Reported at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Angelina Jolie-Pitt wrote and directed this film, which is good news and bad news. The first two films she directed only earned mixed reviews, and the buzz suggests this one won't do much better. However, Unbroken was a surprise $100 million hit at the box office, which boosts the film's box office chances. On the other hand, not every source has it opening truly wide. If it does only open semi-wide, then its box office chances will shrink. If it opens truly wide, it could be a midlevel hit.

Love the Coopers

Love the Coopers poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LoveTheCoopers.com/
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: November 13th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, language and some sexuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Christmas, Christmas in November, Fake Dating, Single Parent, Dysfunctional Family, Ensemble
Directed By: Jessie Nelson
Written By: Steven Rogers
Starring: It's a family ensemble. There's about a dozen starring actors.
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

This is a Christmas comedy about a dysfunctional family. There's almost no chance it will be a monster hit, because nearly none of these films are. However, they tend to not be expensive to make and can have long legs, not in theaters, but on TV. If the film's reviews are okay, it might find an audience on TV year after year after year.

Weekend of November 20th, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

This is an incredibly lopsided week at the box office. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 will open with more than $100 million. The other two new releases likely won't finish with $100 million combined. To be fair, The Night Before is an R-rated comedy and those have a shot at becoming $100 million dollar hits, but it's rare. Also, it seems like these films have a better chance at the century mark if they are aimed at women. Finally there's Secret in Their Eyes, which is a remake of a foreign-language film. The buzz here is quiet, so it will need Oscar-worthy reviews to thrive. It's too early to tell if that will happen. This weekend last year is the weekend The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opened with nearly $122 million. I think Part 2 will do better, because it is the final installment of the franchise and everyone will want to rush out to see it. However, there's some buzz that it might open slower. If so, 2015 could lose this weekend in the year-over-year comparison.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheHungerGames.movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: November 20th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Revolution, Dystopia, Post Apocalypse, Young Adult Book Adaptation, Posthumous Release
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Suzanne Collins, Danny Strong
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence
Production Budget: Reported at $125 million
Box Office Potential: $405 million

The final film in the Hunger Games franchise. It is also the adaptation of the second part of the final book and we've seen the first parts of these releases tend to fall, while the second part tends to bounce back. This happened with Harry Potter, this happened with Twilight and I think this will happen here. The reason for this is simple: The Part 1 movies tend to be too much setup and not enough pay off. That was the case with Mockingjay - Part 1, which earned 65% positive reviews, compared to the previous films' Tomatometer Scores of 84% positive and 89% positive reviews. Should Part 2's reviews bounce back, then I'm confident the franchise will end on a high note. Should they sink lower, then getting to $350 million will be difficult. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic. However, I appear to be the in minority here. It appears that most analysts are predicting a drop at the box office, so keep that in mind.

The Night Before

The Night Before poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Movies/TheNightBefore/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: November 20th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for drug use and language throughout, some strong sexual content and graphic nudity.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Christians, Jewish, Christmas in November, Christmas, Orphan, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Narcotics, Black Out Drunk, Parties Gone Wild, Gratuitous Cameos
Directed By: Jonathan Levine
Written By: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

An R-rated Christmas comedy. There have been a few films like this, including Bad Santa, which is arguably the best example of the genre. Unfortunately, it seems the R-rated comedy peaked at the box office a few years ago, at least if they are aimed primarily at men. Given the ticket price inflation, if The Night Before sold the same number of tickets that Bad Santa did, then it would earn just over $80 million at the box office. That seems overly optimistic, but $60 million and a solid run on the home market will be enough to break even.

Secret in Their Eyes

Secret in Their Eyes poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SecretInTheirEyes.movie/
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Release Date: November 20th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references.
Source: Remake
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Remake, Foreign-Language Remake, Death of a Son or Daughter, Cold Case, Sex Crimes, FBI, Police Procedural, Vigilante
Directed By: Billy Ray
Written By: Billy Ray, Eduardo Sacheri
Production Budget: Reported at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

This is a remake of El secreto de sus ojos. That film earned stellar reviews and was a $40 million hit worldwide. It earned more than $6 million here, which is amazing for a foreign-language film. On the one hand, if this film earns the same level of positive reviews, then it could be a player during Awards Season and that would certainly help it at the box office. On the other hand, we've seen several Oscar-bait films that have come out this fall fail at the box office. I want this film to succeed, but I think being more cautious is the smarter play. If it is a big hit, then STX Entertainment will start its run with two hits in a row.

Weekend of November 27th, 2015

The Good Dinosaur

November ends with Thanksgiving long weekend. This is one of the biggest weekends of the year and there are three films hoping to take advantage. The Good Dinosaur is the latest from Pixar and that automatically gives it an advantage over the competition. However, its development wasn't smooth and there's a chance these problems will hurt the end product. Creed is the latest installment in a franchise that is almost as old as I am. However, the most recent installment was the best in the franchise since the first film, so there's some hope this one will also earn critical praise. Then there's Victor Frankenstein. The film has a good cast, but the buzz is really quiet. Granted, it does have nearly a month for its buzz to grow, but it could also get drowned out by the other releases this week. Looking at this weekend last year, there's not much to look at. Both Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 missed expectations. The Good Dinosaur should earn more than both of those films combined and when you add in the other two wide releases, we should have a really good weekend in the year-over-year comparison.

Creed

Creed poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CreedTheMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: November 25th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Boxing, Delayed Sequel, Inspirational Coach, Philadelphia
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Written By: Aaron Covington, Ryan Coogler
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

The Rocky franchise turns 40 years old next year. In those years, it has produced six previous installments, three of which are worth watching more than once. Fortunately, the most recent installment, Rocky Balboa, showed the franchise still had life in it. The question remains... will Creed continue this success? Will people be interested in seeing Creed in the boxing ring instead of Rocky? Or will it flop like Rocky V, which also had Rocky being a trainer instead of a boxer. The trailer was well-received and it has a great release date. Not only is Thanksgiving a great week to release a movie, but the next two weeks have no potential midlevel hits. It won't be till December 18th and Star Wars that there's any serious competition. By that time, the film should already be a midlevel hit, or it will have struggled and the competition won't matter. I'm cautiously optimistic here.

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/The-Good-Dinosaur
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: November 25th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for peril, action and thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Alternate History, Dinosaurs, Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Young Child Dealing with the Death of a Parent, Cavemen, Humans as Pets, Development Hell
Directed By: Peter Sohn
Written By: Meg LeFauve, Enrico Casarosa, and Bob Peterson
Starring: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $175 million to $200 million
Box Office Potential: $225 million

This is the latest Pixar film. Outside of Cars 2, which was made for merchandising reasons, they haven't made a bad movie ever. Also outside of Cars 2, they haven't made a movie that didn't earn at least $200 million since A Bug's Life. On the other hand, The Good Dinosaur has had a troubled production and its release was delayed a year. A lot of people think this will hurt the film's box office chances. However, this isn't the first Pixar film to have a troubled production. Toy Story and WALL-E had similar problems and they turned out to be classics. Personally, I think this will be a monster hit and could still be in wide release in January. I fear it won't be as good as Inside Out and people will attack it for that reasons alone.

Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Victor-Frankenstein
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 25th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for macabre images, violence and a sequence of destruction.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Mad Scientist, Inventor, Frankenstien's Monster, Gothic Horror
Directed By: Paul McGuigan
Written By: Max Landis, Max Landis
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

Victor Frankenstein is a Gothic Horror film that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein and his assistant, Igor as they try to conquer death and reanimate dead flesh. There are two films that immediately spring to mind here: The Woman in Black and Crimson Peak. Both films are Gothic Horror movies that have come out recently (the earlier one even starred Daniel Radcliffe). They also represent this film's high and low end of expectations, more or less. There is a chance this film won't match Crimson Peak, because that film had the more seasonally appropriate release date, while there's also a chance people who are being overwhelmed by holiday cheer will want something else to indulge in. Somewhere in the middle is the most likely result.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, My All-American, The Good Dinosaur, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, The Peanuts Movie, Victor Frankenstein, Spectre, The Night Before, Secret in Their Eyes, By the Sea, Love the Coopers, Creed, The 33, James Bond, Harry Potter, Rocky, Twilight, Hunger Games, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Daniel Craig, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael B. Jordan, Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence, Anthony Mackie, James McAvoy, Paul McGuigan, Sam Mendes, Thomas Michael, Raymond Ochoa, Bob Peterson, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Radcliffe, Seth Rogen, Peter Sohn, Sylvester Stallone, Danny Strong, Jessie Nelson, Steven Rogers, John Logan, Suzanne Collins, Steve Martino, Mikko Alanne, Jonathan Levine, Billy Ray, Patricia Riggen, Max Landis, Charles Schulz, Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Jose Rivera, Craig Borten, Ryan Coogler, Neil Purvis, , Aaron Covington, Eduardo Sacheri, Hector Tobar, Meg LeFauve, Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Rebecca Bloom, Venus Schultheis