November 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

November 6, 2009

After vampire baseball comes the vampire marathon.

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4. Old Dogs (November 25th)

Oh yes, it's another one of those ridiculous big-star comedies, with the silly trailer, the inexplicable supporting characters (a monstrously-mustached Justin Long and a mean-spirited, visor cap-wearing Matt Dillon), and the big gorilla money shot. Robin Williams and John Travolta are reliable enough anchors, and the movie's likely appeal to both adults and children should give it big legs throughout December. Indeed, like Four Christmases last year, this has all the right demographics very cannily covered. So, you want a silly $100 million-grossing holiday comedy? Here's the season's first one.

Opening weekend: $42 million (five-day) / Total gross: $115 million

5. Planet 51 (November 20th)

Like last year's Bolt, Planet 51 is a CGI alternative to the gloomy vampiric misadventures going on over in that other November 20th movie. It's another in the alarmingly long line of silly CGI epics, and the premise here seems to be of the one-joke variety. Planet 51's got The Rock, who started out like an heir to Schwarzenegger but has since become inescapably stuck in Arnie's Kindergarten Cop-era kids movie period (the only guns he's playing with these days are plastic). As was the case in October, the studios certainly didn't hesitate to flood the marketplace with children's films, and just like last month, some of them are going to be the worse for wear because of it. That said, I'm probably still wrong on this one not making $100 million, but so what? It's what I do.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $73 million

6. The Men Who Stare at Goats (November 6th)

Another politically-charged enterprise from the Clooney team. As usual, these things read like box office poison on paper, but when you get through with the critical acclamation, the awards buzz, the funny trailers, and the genuine star power, you don't wind up with something all that uncommercial after all. Indeed, while the premise here is inherently bizarre, it was obviously a good idea to team Clooney and Ewan McGregor up with perpetually entertaining character actors Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges (who apparently plays some sort of military goat guru, and ends the trailer on a great punchline). Men / Goats doesn't look like it's going to be a serious awards contender, but should play out like one at the box office anyway.

Opening weekend: $16 million / Total gross: $51 million


7. The Blind Side (November 20th)

The feel-good sports movie wave began by Remember of the Titans in 2000 comes full circle with this, another trek into Southern football. It's interesting to see Sandra Bullock here, playing it straight after two comedy leads; and while The Blind Side doesn't look like anything exceptional, it'll probably have a good enough time at the box office being unexceptional, with a minor hint of legs throughout December.

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $42 million

8. Fantastic Mr. Fox (limited on November 13th; expands November 25th)

As yet another entry into November's children's sweepstakes, Fantastic Mr. Fox follows Where the Wild Things Are in assigning a quirky indie director to a would-be mainstream mass entertainment. The result, as with that film, seems a little odd, and this one doesn't have the pent-up nostalgia that gave the Spike Jonze picture a respectable box office performance. Even more so than Wild Things, this has a problem: as expected, it looks way too weird for kids, and as for adults - well, you may have to resort to bribery to get them to see something so out there (I'm personally waiting for my check in the mail). Still, the voice casting is absolutely impeccable, led as it is by none other than George Clooney, who evidently never met a thoroughly uncommercial project he didn't like. But do kids care that Mrs. Fox is really Meryl Streep?

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $38 million

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