November 2015 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

November 5, 2015

I think that dinosaur just picked up a stray.

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After a busy month that nevertheless produced only about three films that could honestly be called box office successes, November is a less risky bet, giving us lots of sure things: two of the year's biggest sequels, a handful of Oscar bait, some comedies, and a pair of very different animated films.

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (November 20th)

One of the absolute biggest movie stars of the 2010s, Jennifer Lawrence, is back again, in what will be the first half of yet another Lawrence holiday double-bill. In December, she'll star in David O. Russell's Joy, but first she must conclude the Hunger Games quadrilogy, which began in March 2012, when the first Hunger Games opened to $152 million, which was much, much, much, much, much, more than anyone could have reasonably expected. The first film finished with $408 million, the second somehow bested it with $424 million, and the third was noted for dropping down to the pocket changesque sum of $337 million. That third film received some grumbling reactions from both audiences and professional reviewers, but the deficiency looks to naturally self-correct the fourth time around, with a film that both conclusively ends the series and gives audiences a heavy dose of large-scale action (as they must, beloved characters will die - I'm talking about President Snow, of course).

There's not much to debate about the film's prospects, except to deduce onto exactly what range of mega-blockbuster Hunger Games 4 will slot itself. I'll strike a cautious note and forecast it close to a franchise-best but not quite above it. Whether it makes $385 million, $415 million, or perhaps a more risqué $445 million, though, Mockingjay - Part 2 will almost without question be the month's biggest film, and it's also to be commended for being the less totally obnoxious of the two science fiction mass-audience mega-events of the holiday season (I dare not name the second much-anticipated film, but it's due December 18th and is apparently set in outer space).

Opening weekend: $160 million / Total gross: $415 million


2. The Good Dinosaur (November 25th)

In a move straight out of the Tyler Perry playbook, 2015 will shortly go down in history books as the first time that two Pixar films have been released in the same calendar year. There's a rational explanation, of course: The Good Dinosaur was pushed back from May 2014, a year that was thus the first since 2005 to have been left totally Pixarless. So now, we get two. The Good Dinosaur is another venture into that popular scenario where dinosaurs walked the earth alongside man (is it possible that there are more films positing this scenario than those that depict dinos as living in solitude, without the human race to keep them company?). The Good Dinosaur is helmed by Pixar veteran Peter Sohn, making his feature directorial debut, and it is given voice by the usual glorious cast (Sam Elliott, Frances McDormand, Anna Paquin, Jeffrey Wright, and an apparent lack of Pixar's mandatory John Ratzenberger cameo, although I could be proven wrong there). There aren't any reviews yet, so overwhelming critical adoration is only a likelihood, not an absolute certainty. The late November release slot is clearly positioned to remind box office obsessives of 2013, when another Disney release, Frozen, opened around Thanksgiving and stole the thunder from a weaker early November animation, Free Birds. The dinosaur and his human will outgross poor Snoopy, I'm sure, but it's hard to see them beating out Pixar's Inside Out as the year's definitive Pixar film.

Opening weekend: $82 million (5-day) / Total gross: $241 million

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