November 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
November 3, 2016
4. Trolls (November 4th)
Not the South Park kind, I'm afraid, but just the old-fashioned, adorable 1960s dolls turned into a big-budget, mainstream entertainment (although South Park is correct: Troll dolls do, indeed, come from Denmark). Trolls is the kind of animated film that has been opening the post-Halloween holiday season since, well, 2004, when The Incredibles forever staked out this weekend for the CGI animation genre (we've had a CGI release open November just about every year since). The film's theme song, Can't Stop the Feeling!, which is admittedly well-written and performed, has played incessantly on the radio since roughly six months ago, to the point that I and many others have probably developed a severe dislike for its existence.
Still, as the Smurfs and Chipmunks showed, classic children's characters are big box office draws, and the voice cast is carried by Justin Timberlake, in his first big film role since 2013, and by Anna Kendrick, whose filmography, I noticed, consists of an inordinate amount of independent films (11 in just the last four years!). The reviews are positive, of course (it's the rare high-profile CGI movie that gets panned by critics), the title characters are well known and probably reasonably beloved by the moviegoing public, and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life failed to break out last month, despite carrying the best twist ending of the year (really; watch the film). That means we've had a long period without a successful title for the pre-teen demographic. So Trolls will deliver, as it must, but I think some of its market will be taken away from it by CGI fellow traveller Moana and the two relatively live-action British wizards.
Opening weekend: $45 million / Total gross: $143 million
5. Arrival (November 11th)
It shares the title, almost, of the well-reviewed 1996 alien conspiracy thriller, and indeed this film depicts another extraterrestrial visitation, one billed more as a personal story and less focused on special effects and action scenes. That's not surprising coming from director Denis Villeneuve, whose Prisoners was one of the best films of 2013, and whose subsequent thriller Sicario totally baffled me two years later (how did Emily Blunt's character at all affect the plot?). Arrival holds reviews that can at this point fairly be described as Villeneuve-esque, with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 53, though neither Armond White nor myself have yet weighed in. Arrival is supplied with star power courtesy of Amy Adams, who is working overtime this season, and Jeremy Renner, in another solid, serious role away from the Marvel Cinematic epoch. Even with all these credentials, I don't think Arrival will open all that well, but itself and all the other big dramas this month should play as solid counterprogramming to all the surefire genre blockbusters clogging up screens. Movies about alien invasions (or, in this case, visitations) have over-populated our moviegoing consciousness for roughly the last decade, but room must be made for one more.
Opening weekend: $13 million / Total gross: $62 million