November 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
November 3, 2016
9. Almost Christmas (November 11th)
The first of several 2016 Christmas films is this sprawling entry in one of my favorite subgenres, the family reunion comedy. In its large, predominantly African-American cast, pictured on the poster, Almost Christmas reminds me of This Christmas, a fairly good family film which broke out to decent numbers over Thanksgiving 2007, and of other cast-heavy titles like The Family Stone. Here, the long-suffering patriarch is Danny Glover, his kin, by both blood and other means, includes Kimberly Elise and Omar Epps, and the cast's live-wire seems to be Mo'Nique, winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the source of most the trailer's best lines. The film opens perhaps too early to have serious legs all the way to the Christmas holiday, but, as the title suggests, it may almost get there.
Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $42 million
10. Allied (November 23rd)
Director Robert Zemeckis delivers one of his trademark old-school entertainments with this tale of World War II espionage and intrigue, set in Morocco, which as every fan of 1940s films knows is a classic battleground against the Nazi threat. Leading man Brad Pitt is a very big star, of course, and has often found himself in the news in months past, which likely helps more than hurts here. His co-star, Marion Cotillard, seems perfectly plausible as a French woman who may be a murderous spy. The film will need some awards buzz and good reviews to break out of what's becoming a heavily composed slate of dramatic films vying for attention. Zemeckis' own The Walk, another French-tinged drama, disappeared quickly last year despite positive notices, a risk this film is also taking.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $35 million
11. Rules Don't Apply (November 23rd)
The title holds a film that for cinephiles has to be most notable as the comeback of Warren Beatty, in his first acting role since 2001's somewhat famous Town & Country. Beatty, once a prominent Hollywood leading man, co-directed 1978's Heaven Can Wait, and turned fully to directing with the excellent and underseen early 1900s epic Reds (1981), the relatively early comic book success Dick Tracy (1990), and the political Bulworth (1998). Beatty directs, writes, and stars here, too, playing billionaire Howard Hughes in his later years, while Alden Ehrenreich, recently cast as a slightly younger Han Solo, is the nominal and fictional male lead, and Lily Collins his love interest, also playing a creation of the screenplay. Leonardo DiCaprio covered much of Hughes' life in The Aviator (2004), of course, but there's probably room for another. The title is a little unusual, and it's one of those names that could be used for any number of movies (The Edge of Seventeen, say, could borrow it with little resulting confusion). Rules Don't Apply has been in production awhile, but it looks like some of the early word has been positive, enough to stand out in a crowded slate of dramas.
Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $30 million
12. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (wide on November 18th)
As surprising as it is, it looks like basically the only film released in September and October to be a contender in the major Academy Awards categories will be Sully, which may receive nominations for Best Picture, Actor, and Director, even if it's not particularly likely to take any of them home on Oscar night.
November more than makes up for this shortcoming by deigning to fill most of the rest of the nomination slots. One expected early contender was, indeed, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, based on a well-reviewed book, and depicting the post-traumatic affects on a young Texan soldier in modern-day America. Billy Lyn's Halftime Walk premiered at the New York Film Festival last month to criticism, some of which focused on the film's very high frame per second rate (whatever that means; google it), and will likely end up as only the second Ang Lee film not to score a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, star Joe Alwyn should break out, and could be playing the lead in one of those Marvel or Harry Potter sequels any year now.
The big drama ticket of the month, and perhaps likely to be one of the higher Oscar-bound grossers, is Manchester by the Sea, which has good odds to win not only Best Actor for its star, Casey Affleck, but is also looking to be one of the top two contenders for Best Picture. Loving, about the Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriage, should be the month's other big awards player, and will likely also eventually enter wide release. Somewhat smaller films are Miles Teller as boxer Vinny Paz in Bleed for This, which may net Aaron Eckhart a supporting nod (he looks very bald in this movie, so...), Lion, a real life feel-good story with Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara, which gets the Weinstein Company's red carpet treatment, and Miss Sloane, about a lobbyist facing off against the gun industry, which may make an impact for Jessica Chastain's performance. Tom Ford's thriller Nocturnal Animals, which pairs Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal with some wrongdoings in the night, will roll out slowly on its way to a wide release, though its reviews suggest it's more of a pulp film than serious Oscar voters can handle.