Weekend Forecast for November 28-30, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
November 27, 2013
Although there's only one super wide release, there's little excuse for saying there's nothing to choose from over Thanksgiving weekend, with six wide releases and/or major expansions hitting the marketplace. I mean, you're still going to be seeing the Hunger Games, but you do have a choice, is all I'm sayin'.
Disney's Frozen is the major new option for the Turkey Day long weekend, as the company attempts to reassert that it's better than its little cousin Pixar yet again. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen, it features the voices of Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff (some dude from Glee, apparently), Josh Gad, Idina Menzel and others, as the latter turns the idyllic land of their kingdom into eternal winter. So it's off to the races to rescue summer, with adventure and chaste romance and wacky sidekicks along the way.
If this sounds a lot like Tangled to you, what with its faux-strong female lead, adjectival title and cutesy wide-eyed animation style, then, well, there are some Disney executives who'd like you to step into this not-at-all suspicious closet over in this direction here for a couple of weeks. But yes, it's very much in the way of formula, not that we expect a lot different from Disney these days. And of course, Tangled was perfectly delightful so why not make essentially that same movie again? This will probably work once or twice more before audiences tire of it, or they get lazy about the quality and we get a Hercules out of the effort.
Possibly a bad sign of that already in progress is the Josh Gad character, an animated snowman helping out our heroes to bring back summer in what seems like a monumental example of working against your self interests. While not quite to the point of being a Jar-Jar, his character seems like it's drawing up to that line of being incredibly annoying in the service of being comic relief – to the point where that character is more prominent on the poster than the leads. Reviews are still mostly positive, so formula fatigue hasn't kicked in just yet.
In the same spot three years ago, Tangled managed $68 million over five days, and if anything, the marketing for Frozen has been even more intense for this film. While that might be viewed as a sign of weakness, there's also the notion to think about that Tangled was kind of a new direction for Disney, and had to be validated by audiences. Now that they're familiar with it, there'll be less hesitation, or so the theory goes. And what with the most recent family film being a horrible disappointment, there's a built up demand for family films. Expect around $55 million over three days and $75 million over the whole weekend.
The mostly openly seasonly-themed film of this period is Black Nativity, and is an adaptation of the stage musical by the same name. Kasi Lemmons, probably best known as the director of Eve's Bayou (or maybe as Jodie Foster's best friend in The Silence of the Lambs). Jennifer Hudson, Forrest Whitaker, Angela Basset, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige and Nas make up the most notable members (and really, isn't that enough? What more do you monsters want of casting directors?) of the ensemble cast, which tells the story of a young mother who sends her son to spend time over the holidays with her estranged parents. Something something family church singing inspiring family everyone cries.
Comparisons for this are a little hard to come by, as this musical doesn't have as much presence as things like Chicago or Les Miserables. In some ways it seems to play a bit like a musical version of a Tyler Perry movie, with its direct appeals at morality and family. There's also a facile comparison to make to Dreamgirls based on Hudson's presence, but to be fair, that's what a number of moviegoers might do too, even though thematically there's nothing in common here. However you might want to slice it, there should be enough for around a $15 million three day total, and $21 million over five days.