Now that we’re finally out of the fall doldrums, November brings a whole slew of top-notch, pedigreed films for the viewing enjoyment of audiences everywhere. Three out of the ten wide releases scheduled to hit theaters in November are animated, with the first one out of the gate sure to set off the biggest fireworks.
By Kim Hollis
November 5, 2004
Yes, Pixar’s long-awaited The Incredibles makes its debut this weekend, and prospects couldn’t be sunnier. The film is the second-to-last in the animation studio’s distribution pact with the Walt Disney Company, and marketing has been hitting hard for months already. Though having the Disney machine coordinating your advertising efforts isn’t at all a bad thing, it’s actually the reputation behind the Pixar name that makes up the bulk of The Incredible’s pre-release buzz. The Steve Jobs-headed company has yet to fail.
Starting back in 1995, the studio brought CGI animation into the mainstream with the release of Toy Story. That film accumulated an impressive $29.1 million in its first weekend, and eventually found almost $200 million at the box office in North America. And that was only the beginning. Pixar’s next film, A Bug’s Life, improved on the promise shown by Toy Story and increased opening weekend box office to $33.3 million. Things continued to go up, up and even more up.
Toy Story 2, originally planned as a straight-to-video sequel, was found to be of such fantastic quality that Disney decided it was well worth putting in theaters. Indeed it was, as the film stands as one of the great sequels of all time and earned $57 million in its first weekend. Next came the treasure that was Monsters, Inc., possibly my personal favorite of the Pixar films. While all of the previous movies from the studio had been released over the Thanksgiving holiday, this time around, the studio elected to get the film in theaters in the first weekend of November. The film took in a shocking-at-the-time $62.6 million and set the bar for all animated films to come.
The film to break that bar was Finding Nemo, which was unveiled to audiences in May of 2003. It took in $70.3 million in its first weekend on its way to a domestic grand total of $340 million.
The Incredibles hopes to continue to build on the promise built so far by the wunderkind studio. At the helm is Brad Bird, the director of the criminally underappreciated Iron Giant. The subject matter is a no-brainer, really. Given the preoccupation of movie audiences with the super hero genre, a gentle send-up of those requisite elements that combine to make a story work will be naturally appealing and lend itself easily to both action and humor. Disney is unspooling the film in 3,933 locations, which should only help to drive the monstrous business it will receive. Look for a debut weekend in the $81 million range, and a second set-up for a battle between Shrek and Pixar for Oscar gold.
There’s another film opening this weekend, but perhaps it might just be difficult to notice it due to the fact that its star, Jude Law, has been in just about every other project released lately. Alfie, a remake of the 1966 Michael Caine movie by the same name, certainly isn’t going to set the world on fire. On the other hand, its mature subject matter isn’t necessarily bad counter-programming against the more family-friendly Incredibles. A total of $8 million or so would seem to be right in keeping with a lesser-marketed, smaller release such as this one.