Friday, November 8, 2013

Movie Preview: November 2013

October of 2013 was led by the monster performance of Gravity, which grossed over $200 million. Unfortunately, that was about it as Gravity's gross ended up being 30 percent of the month's overall gross, and thus overall business was down from recent October totals. This month, though, promises to get things back on track as Thor: The Dark World and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hit theaters. Those two movies alone will make this a huge month for the box office, but there are several other movies scattered in there aiming to please audiences as Oscar season continues to move forward. Here's the lowdown:

November 1st - 3rd - 

The first weekend provided several new releases for audiences to enjoy while waiting for the big blockbusters of the month. Winning the weekend was the long-awaited movie adaption of Ender's Game. Ever since the novel was originally released back in 1985, studios have begged author Orson Scott Card to let them turn his book into a movie. Card smartly waited for an offer that he felt comfortable with, and thus turned many people down that wanted to rush the book onto screen, a strategy that authors like Christopher Paolini should've learned from. As always, fans of the book were divided as some still forget that movies are always going to be a little different from the books, but overall audiences were pleased at the result as Ender's Game holds a 7.2 on IMDb and remains fresh on rottentomatoes.

Coming in second place out of the newcomers was old man comedy Last Vegas. And by old man comedy, I don't mean it's a movie targeting old men, but rather it follows the formula of the Red movies, which is having a cast starring several famous old men. Specifically, our old men cast is Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline. The premise of the movie is the four friends go to Las Vegas to have a bachelor's party for their last remaining single friend. So far, it's done of good job of pleasing audiences. It didn't have a huge budget, so it'll be considered a success when all is said and done.

The final new wide release of the weekend was this weekend's loser in Free Birds. The concept of the movie was actually a brilliant one. There hasn't been many Thanksgiving-themed animated movies in the past, so why not make one? In this movie, a couple turkeys go back in time to the first Thanksgiving with the goal in mind to take turkeys off the menu. With Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson leading the cast, this seemed like an excellent idea. However, the movie was poorly advertised and, according to reviews, poorly executed.

Yes, we are done with the wide releases for this weekend, but there are two limited release movies this weekend that should be noted. The first is Dallas Buyers Club. The big story here is lead actor Matthew McConaughey going for the Best Actor award for in the Oscars with this performance. Early talks are that he has a good shot at the award in a super busy year for that category. The movie is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with HIV back in the '80's.

Finally, opening up just shy of 200 theaters is romantic comedy About Time. Now imagine as a single male if you could go back in time and change what you have done in the past. That's what this movie is about. Main character, Tim, takes advantage of this and goes back to fix certain mistakes he made around a certain girl and gets himself a girlfriend. Now there's an idea. But of course this leads to complications. About Time expands nationwide in the second weekend of November.

November 8th - 10th - 

While 12 Years a Slave and About Time get a nationwide expansion this weekend, there is only one new wide release, and that is Marvel's newest movie, Thor: The Dark World. The original Thor was a decent success for Marvel, but didn't come anywhere near the level of Iron Man. Now that The Avengers has come out, it is certain that this second chapter increases significantly over its predecessor. However, despite the popularity that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston got in The Avengers, Thor 2 will still be without the most popular avenger in Robert Downy Jr., and thus there is no way that Thor 2 hits Iron Man 3 levels. But Marvel fans should still be happy about more Marvel movies.

Now there is no new nationwide release that dares to challenge Thor this weekend, but there is one notable limited release that comes out this weekend, and that would be The Book Thief. In a crowded month, The Book Thief could end up being overlooked when it does make it to nationwide release. This would be due to a very crowded November. However, The Book Thief is based on a popular novel of the same title and that could propel it forward. The Book Thief centers around a young girl during WWII who becomes an inspiration to those around her by stealing books and sharing them with others.

November 15th - 17th - 

Opening up between Thor 2 and Catching Fire is a real risky business and that is why there is only one movie that dares to pull off the feat. That movie is The Best Man Holiday. This movie is an R-rated comedy with a primarily black cast. It'll definitely have its group of followers, but overall business for the movie should be quite slow as most people will either be catching up on Thor 2 or saving their money for Catching Fire.

Coming out in limited release is yet another strong Oscar contender in the movie Nebraska. Nebraska is a movie that is directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and is uniquely shot in just black and white. As the title suggests, the movie has something to do with Nebraska. In fact, it is about an old man who makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his son in an effort to claim a million dollar prize.

November 22nd - 24th - 

With the ending of Twilight last season, the pre-Thanksgiving blockbuster spot opened up. However, that spot didn't stay open for long as The Hunger Games reserved the spot each spot year through 2015. This year is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Back last March when The Hunger Games debuted, most people would agree it was going to be a big hit. Most people didn't even dream of it being as big as it actually was. An opening of $150 million and a final tally of over $400 million is insane for a non-sequel. That final total, in fact, is higher than any Harry Potter or Twilight movie here in the US. With how popular and well-liked that first one was, Catching Fire should be able to at least get close to both those numbers.

The only nationwide release daring enough to take on Catching Fire is Deliver Man. Delivery Man is another comedy coming out this month, this one starring Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders, and Chris Pratt. It's only PG-13, so that could help it get a more expanded audience than The Best Man Holiday the previous week. It also has an interesting enough premise as Vince Vaughn's character learns that he has 533 children, 142 of which are suing him to learn his identity.

November 27th - December 1st - 

The Thanksgiving holiday will likely be dominated by previous week's blockbuster, Catching Fire. However, Thanksgiving will be very crowded with four new wide releases opening up on Wednesday the 27th, the day before Thanksgiving. The winner of these newcomers will be Disney's Frozen. Disney no longer controls the animated movie market, but recently they've done well with Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled. Both of those movies ended around the $200 million range and Frozen should be able to around that as well. It brings back the animation style present in Tangled, with several of the characters looking like they came directly from Tangled. They both even sport the style of a one word adjective title. Is Disney having creativity issues or are they simply trying to build on the success of Tangled with this? Either way, with little competition in terms of other animated movies this holiday season, Frozen should be able to do really well.

After essentially getting ignored for most of the month, Thanksgiving provides plenty of options for family audiences as Black Nativity is the second PG-rated movie, along with previously-mentioned Frozen, to come out this weekend. Black Nativity is what it sounds like. It's the retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast. Being more specific, the movie is a musical that is adapted from the Langston Hughes play of the same name.  The cast is led by Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, and Tyrese Gibson.

In addition to giving family audiences plenty of options for Thanksgiving, adult audiences also get a couple of options. The first of this is Homefront. Homefront is an R-rated action thriller that stars Jason Statham and James Franco. Now Statham has his group of followers that will show up to all his action movies, but outside The Expendables, Statham's outings haven't been overly successful, so this probably won't make much of a dent during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Finally, Thanksgiving gives audiences Oldboy, which is an American version of the popular 2003 Korean hit of the same name. The 2003 version currently holds a spot in IMDb's Top 250 with an 8.4 rating, so this remake is a bit of an odd choice. Both movies are about a guy who gets wrongly kidnapped and thrown in prison for a lengthy amount of time (15 years in the original -- 20 years in this one). Upon release, he is out to find who his captor is. This new version stars Josh Brolin, Samuel L Jackson, and Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins -- who is beginning to make a pretty big name for herself.

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