November 4th - 6th-
Providing some very successful counter-programming to Doctor Strange was DreamWorks Animation's second outing of the year in Trolls, opening to $46.6 million. After a very rough stretch financially from Rise of the Guardians in 2012 to Penguins of Madagascar in 2014, causing many changes for the studio both with their release schedule and internally, DreamWorks now must be breathing a sigh of relief as they are now on a bit of a winning streak as Trolls is now their third straight movie to open above $40 million. Based on the troll dolls that were especially popular back in the 70's and 80's, Trolls managed to hit a sweet spot on the schedule in between Storks and Moana. It'll essentially have a monopoly on the family market this month until it gets destroyed by Moana on Thanksgiving. But that should give it plenty of time to bring in good cash. Also potentially helping Trolls was Justin Timberlake's smash summer hit on the Billboard charts, "Can't Stop the Feeling," which was written for Trolls. Anna Kendrick and Gwen Stefani also provide musical talent for the movie.
The final opening this past weekend was Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge. Given that Mel Gibson is not the most popular person on the planet right now, Lionsgate strategically advertised this as being "from the director of Braveheart," without using Gibson's name. This is Gibson's first directorial effort since Apocalypto in 2006 and has so far received huge critical acclaim. The movie first opened at the Venice Film Festival in September and reportedly received a 10-minute standing ovation. The movie stars Andrew Garfield as a World War II American Army medic named Desmond T. Doss who refused to pick up a gun and kill people, instead choosing to save as many people as he could. His efforts earned him a Medal of Honor, which was the first Medal of Honor given to a conscientious objector. In addition to receiving an A Cinemascore, and an A+ Cinemascore among people over 50, the movie currently stands at 8.8 on IMDb and 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It opened to $15.2 and should hold very well throughout the month until Brad Pitt's fellow war movie Allied hits theaters on Thanksgiving.
November 11th - 13th-
Opening along with Arrival is the first holiday-themed movie of the season in Almost Christmas. This is a PG-13 comedy that features a mostly all black cast that includes Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie T. Usher and Omar Epps. The movie is about a dysfunctional family that is forced to come together for the first time since their mom died. The goal is to make things work for just five days around Thanksgiving. Thus makes this movie have crossover appeal with two holidays. The producer on this movie is Will Packer, whose had a long string of success producing similar comedies with black casts, including This Christmas, Think Like a Man and Ride Along. Most of the movies he has produced have made between $20-40 million on their opening weekends and if last month's Boo! A Madea Halloween taught us anything, that would be that holiday themed comedies aimed at a black audience can do rather well, so this could be one of the surprise successes of the month.
The third wide release of the month is a thriller that should go mostly unnoticed and that is Shut In. The distributor here is EuropaCorp whose only previous two wide releases were The Transporter Refueled from last year and Nine Lives from earlier this year, both of which earned just over $5 million in their opening weekend, a number that probably sounds about right for Shut In. This will be director Farren Blackburn's first major feature-length after directing a variety of TV episodes over the years from shows like Doctors, Luther and Daredevil. Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay star in this thriller, which is about a windowed woman who is caring for her paralyzed son when she gets "shut in" from the rest of the world after a deadly winter storm hits that in turn causes her to start seeing things and thinking that someone is inside her house trying to harm them.
November 18th - 20th-
Hoping for some successful counter-programming to Fantastic Beasts will be the comedy The Edge of Seventeeen. This comes to us via STX Entertainment, which is a production company that started last summer with the goal of releasing several mid-budget movies per year featuring star-studded casts. After a couple of successful thrillers, STX stumbled a bit with the action movie Hardcore Henry and flopped big time with the war movie Free State of Jones. However, they struck gold with their first try at comedy as this summer's Bad Moms became one of the huge surprise hits, earning $113.3 million at the domestic box office off a $20 million budget. Now they'll hope lighting strikes twice with their second comedy, The Edge of Seventeen. This stars Hailee Steinfeld, who is experiencing quite a bit of success on multiple fronts as she has a top 20 Billboard Hit with her song "Starving" featuring Zedd in addition to this movie coming out. The movie is about Hailee's character going through some high school drama as she's at... the edge of seventeen. Woody Harrelson and Blake Jenner co-star.
Hoping to attract some of the adult audience not interested in returning to the Harry Potter universe or seeing a high school comedy will be the boxing movie Bleed for This. Last year at about this time the boxing movie Creed took the world by storm as it was a huge critical and box office success, earning over $100 million at the domestic box office after becoming one of the most well-beloved movies of the year as Michael B. Jordan successfully took over the mantle in the successful boxing franchise. A year later, Jordan's Fant4stic co-star Miles Teller will try his luck in a boxing movie as Teller plays real life boxer Vinny Pazienza who made a miraculous comeback to the boxing ring after getting in a near-fatal accident that led many to believe he would never walk again. As far as box office success, Teller certainly isn't going to experience the same level of success as Jordan. Bleed for This isn't a part of an already successful franchise and in general boxing movies are a hard sell. Back in August, fellow true story boxing movie Hands of Stone could only muster an opening weekend of $1.7 million on its way to $4.7 million total. Another potential comparison might be 2013's Grudge Match which opened to $7.0 million on it's way to $29.8 million total.
November 23rd - 25th-
I briefly mentioned Brad Pitt's Allied earlier in this preview when talking about Hacksaw Ridge. This will be our adult counter-programming to Disney's Moana. One of the three such movies, anyways. There's a bit of drama surrounding this movie as the recent divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is rumored to be partially due to Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard getting along so well after filming Allied together. Not that I'm one to feed the rumor mills, but it's an interesting piece of drama. In Allied, Pitt and Cotillard play a husband and wife during World War II. Pitt is American. Cotillard is French. But Pitt's character has a huge bombshell dropped on him as he is told that his wife might be a German spy and if she is, he has orders to kill her on the spot or be hanged. Talk about a relationship tester, right? Allied is directed by Robert Zemeckis, who has a long string of huge successes, which includes Back to the Future, Forest Gump, Cast Away and Flight. Although his recent film, last year's The Walk, didn't quite catch on, earning only $10 million. So he'll be looking to recover here with this project.
Our second adult-aimed movie this weekend will also be our second Christmas themed movie with Bad Santa 2. Bad Santa is a movie that was released 13 years and although it was decently well-liked and had an alright run at the box office, it's not exactly a sequel everyone was asking for. Then there's the fact that comedy sequels from movies that came out 10+ years ago haven't been doing super well recently. Recent examples include Dumb and Dumber To and Zoolander 2 disappointing. So the initial prognostic for Bad Santa 2 doesn't look that great. However, a raunchy, Holiday-themed movie for the adults could very well catch on and perform well throughout the season. Last year on this same exact weekend the movie Night Before only opened to $9.3 million, but had an excellent 4.6 multiplier when comparing opening weekend to final domestic total as it finished with just over $43 million. It's possible that Bad Santa 2 follows a similar trajectory. The movie stars Billy Bob Thornton, reprising his role from the first film.
And finally we have the highly anticipated Warren Beatty project Rules Don't Apply. Warren Beatty had a very successful run as an actor throughout the 60's and 70's, most well-known for his role as Clyde Barrow in the movie Bonnie and Clyde from 1967. On the tail end of the most successful stretch of his acting career, he directed and starred in several movies, such as Heaven Can Wait, Reds and Dick Tracy. Outside the Dick Tracy Special on TV in 2010, Beatty hasn't done much of anything on any level in the last 20 years. And now he is back doing everything in Rules Don't Apply as he wrote, directed, produced and starred in this film. The success of a film like this will be based solely on the actual reviews. Good reviews mean it could be an Oscar contender. Bad or average reviews mean it could fly under everyone's radar and be forgot. The movie is about an unconventional love story between an aspiring actress, her driver and the billionaire they work for and will definitely have an old-fashioned vibe to it. In addition to Beatty himself, the movie stars Haley Bennett, Ed Harris, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick and Martin Sheen.