November 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

November 6, 2009

After vampire baseball comes the vampire marathon.

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9. The Box (November 6th)

This one's a fairly nifty-looking little horror thriller with a catchy premise. Oddly set in the 1970s, The Box takes likeable leads Cameron Diaz and James Marsden and pits them against Frank Langella, now back in high-profile character actor mode, and looking aptly sinister at that. The trailer is sufficiently intriguing, but the movie's got some genre competition, and I think it just doesn't have the momentum to break out in the days right after Halloween. Sure, horror movies do well in November once in a blue moon, but I think we've all had our fill of them this year, nifty as they may be.

Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $37 million

10. Ninja Assassin(November 25th)

Ninja Assassin is another entry into the explosion-filled pantheon of producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, and it takes up the late November B-action slot, previously occupied by last year's Transporter 2 and 2007's Hitman. Neither one of those two passed $40 million, and it would be kind of shocking if this one did. After all, Ninja Assassin isn't based on anything (no, not even a video game, sadly), it doesn't star anyone known stateside, and barring some critical praise, I don't think there's much of an audience for it. It's hard out there for a ninja assassin.

Opening weekend: $12 million / Total gross: $34 million

11. The Road (November 25th)

It's tough to quite peg down this Cormac McCarthy adaptation, a post-apocalyptic drama pushed back from November 2008 under the potentially-accurate assumption that fall 2009 will offer less critically-praised competition. While star Viggo Mortensen has solidified himself as a lead of violent awards-bait, The Road seems too dark and depressing to attract anyone but fans of the book. And considering the already-unenthusiastic early reviews, it won't have the Oscar legs to lift it above Mortensen's previous fall titles, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence.

Opening weekend: $10 million / Total gross: $26 million


12. The Fourth Kind (November 6th)

The Fourth Kind is yet another based-on-true-events, PG-13-rated, Canada-shot thriller. On the plus side, it's got one of those insidiously would-be scary trailers that have inexplicably lured teenage audiences en masse to theaters this decade, handing out jaw-dropping box office tallies to movies like the Exorcism of Emily Rose. On the minus, methinks audiences have had their share of shaky-cam movies about paranormal activity with - well - Paranormal Activity. But I could be wrong. Either way, I'll look on the glass as half full, and mention that it's always nice to see Milla Jovovich, even if she does have to fight off killer owls from outer space.

Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $25 million

13. Precious and co.

The month's wild card - the movie that really ought to be #6 on this list, if not higher, though I suspect it won't see really big numbers until well into next year. Precious is touted as this year's Slumdog Millionaire, and it won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival (the previous two recipients: Slumdog and Juno). But unlike last year's Best Picture winner, this one just seems too downbeat and depressing, and it doesn't have Slumdog's sense of being a vaguely exotic, visually lively adventure. Still, the names of Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey - even as producers - carry a lot of weight; add them to the inevitable word-of-mouth and the Oscar legs, and you've got a potential $100 million earner.

While Precious leads the way, there are a few other Oscar films out in limited release, with some potential for expansion. There's The Messenger, Ben Foster's first real try for a Best Actor nomination (looking good so far), That Evening Sun, with a meaty Hal Holbrook role, and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, which looks like someone has been getting a lot of two-for-the-price-of-one deals at the character actor store. There's also Nicolas Cage's Bad Lieutenant: Port Call of New Orleans, with its amusingly pulpy title, and the Zac Efron period piece Me and Orson Welles, which will give a real test to his burgeoning star power (if it ever gets into wide release, that is). Disney is platforming The Princess and the Frog, their first traditionally animated film in a while, but that won't really get moving until December.

I can wait.

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