November 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
November 3, 2016
As was also true last year, 2016's November is highlighted by two live-action blockbusters (both fantasies this time) and two big CGI films, along with a stacked deck of Oscar contenders that add up to hours of searing dramatic viewing. 2016 already has a record of eight $300 million+ films. This month may add as many as three more. And we're not even done yet.
1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18th)
"Oh, don't worry, we're only going to make five Fantastic Beasts films."
-J. K. Rowling, before making a hasty exit into the nearest side door
Long ago, in the Oscar season of 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne played two very different British scientists, cryptanalyst Alan Turing and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. They played them so well, in fact, that they formed each other's competition for the Best Actor prize, a battle that was ultimately won by Redmayne. Two years later, they're back, each headlining a different fantasy epic, one of which will end up dominating the month of November, if only slightly more so than its rival (and as for their casting, don't ever say an Oscar nomination is worth nothing). The former masters of science are now masters of magic, and I assume Redmayne again has the edge.
That's because Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them's intriguing and memorable title is really just a signpost for what is a Harry Potter prequel film, the first in what we now in fact know will be a planned five such titles, sure to dominate unsuspecting Novembers for roughly the next decade to come. This story is set in the Harry Potter world decades before those books and films, with the location switched here to New York City.
The new franchise's existence is part of the now obvious mantra that movie series never have to end, not really, not if you don't want them to. The Friday the 13th films, which used to get flack for producing sequels almost annually in the 1980s, now look positively vindicated; and at least those movies were short (highway billboards with Jason Voorhees' face on them, reading "Miss me yet?" will be going up on the weekend of Star Wars 8's release in December). The Rowling book of the same title, on which this spin-off is based, is 128 pages long, light reading for a spare hour or two, and now slated to be transformed into at least five very long film adaptations. This brings us full circle, because the Harry Potter films were one of the pioneers of the recent trend of splitting up book adaptations into two or three films (for the latest updates on how well this is going, check with Divergent's Shailene Woodley at the maximum security incarceratory facility where she is presumably currently being held).
Stepping aside from passive aggressive pleasantries for a second, I must say at least a token something about the film's box office future, which seems more than reasonably promising. The American setting is certainly a rather brilliant coup, and the film takes some satiric potshots at American history ("We need a second Salem" and all). Redmayne is joined by an array of rising stars (Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller) and luminaries like Colin Farrell and Ron Perlman, the latter unrecognizable as a goblinish troll. Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange will do well, I'm sure, but this is the more known property, and one could scarcely doubt that its many fans will be in repeated attendance.
Opening weekend: $123 million / Total gross: $350 million