December 2015 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
December 3, 2015
4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (December 18th)
At last, my love has come along! Is the title a pun? I can never tell. This eagerly-anticipated (be honest) fourth film in the saga of the heroic, unsinkable, and unfortunately non-carnivorous forest critters, comes four years after part three. The first two films, released in 2007 and 2009, had near identical twin-like grosses of $217 million the first time around, and $219 million the second, suggesting the exact same 20 million people made their way to the theaters (let's assume the extra $2 million was added for inflation) . The shocker was the third time around, when the last Chipmunks picture lowered itself to a $133 million total for no discernible reason other than it was just its time. A few of the cast members from previous films re-appear here (they shall remain unnamed, to assist with future deniability).
It's hard to say where this new excursion will land, exactly, but I have to assume the number will again go down, not up. I know Chipmunks 2 opened almost opposite Avatar and still did well (and the first Chipmunks had no problems going up against Will Smith's I Am Legend), but I think even this brand will get at least a fair chunk of attendance chiseled out of it by starting on the same day as Star Wars 7 (not to mention Sisters).
Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $82 million
5. In the Heart of the Sea (December 11th)
One of the harder films to forecast this month, director Ron Howard's period adventure In the Heart of the Sea, was pushed back from its initial March release date and into a more awards-friendly, weekend hold-enabling early December date. In fact, Krampus aside, it's just about the only film that's daring to announce itself and show its face before the 18th (those chipmunks are pretty scary). The film's star, Chris Hemsworth, previously led Ron Howard's Rush to critical success stateside and financial success across distant shores, and he's a good leading man opposite a cadre of rising actors like Benjamin Walker, Ben Whishaw, Frank Dillane, and Tom Holland (that's SPIDER-MAN!!!!!). In The Heart of the Sea is about mortal-sized men in close quarter combat with a giant whale off the coast of 1820 Massachusetts, in a true-life story that somewhat inevitably inspired Moby Dick 31 years later. It's the first New England maritime disaster film we'll be getting over the next little while (the second, Chris Pine's The Finest Hours, hits in late January. That one doesn't have a big fish). There's a pulpy poster out there of Hemsworth swimming next to the gargantuan sea monster's eye, spear in hand. The film itself will be much less outlandish, I suppose, though it should still do well.
Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $74 million
6. Sisters (December 18th)
As with Ferrell and Wahlberg, Sisters brings back together a pair of old favorites, and in this case two who have orbited around each other's person much more closely in the public consciousness: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have collaborated on awards shows, Saturday Night Live, and two previous films: Mean Girls (2004), of course, though they shared no scenes, and their amusing buddy movie Baby Mama (2008). As such, Sisters, the first film to join the two in a genealogical fashion, was probably inevitable. For reasons good or bad, the film opens opposite one (or two) massive holiday sequel(s), and will aim to please those who shun special effects and singing rodents, as one of the more personable comedic options of the season, perhaps fulfilling much the same niche as It's Complicated did opposite Avatar in 2009. The leads are appealing, as we know, the choice of co-stars is lively (Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, and John Cena, who's found himself in comedy), and if Baby Mama can pull in $60 million, Sisters should be able to dance alongside the same ballpark, or, if it really catches on as counterprogramming, maybe even go into three digits.
Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $71 million