December 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
December 1, 2016
5. Office Christmas Party (December 9th)
Roughly the third Christmas film of the holiday season benefits from the fact that the other two mostly came and went, matching (Almost Christmas) or underperforming (Bad Santa 2) expectations. The ribald Office Christmas Party isn't a big mainstream holiday film either, of course, not like an Elf or The Santa Clause. More so, it's another entry in the increasingly present tradition of the ribald, R-rated Christmas comedy, but unlike the Bad Santa sequel, it has bigger stars and a fresher marketing hook. Indeed, the advertising makes it look like fun, give or take, with rampant seasonal debauchery advertised well in the trailer and the film's 20 posters (yes, I counted). The large ensemble cast is led mostly by Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, re-teamed oh yet again (after The Switch and three other films), and enjoined with a large roster of rising comedic actors (the everpresent Kate McKinnon, along with T. J. Miller, Vanessa Bayer, and Randall Park, and that's just for starters). The film probably doesn't have the potential to make, say, one hundred million dollars, but if it's good, or probably even if it isn't, it could beat expectations by more than a bit and provide some healthy counter-programming (and much-needed! boy, do we ever need it) for most of the month until the post-Star Wars December gets here.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $63 million
6. Why Him? (December 23rd)
Why Him? is an iteration/re-brew of sorts of Father of the Bride, Meet the Parents, and all those other films about the meeting between a man and his future son-in-law, a rite of passage that apparently never seems to go very well (and in what should not be a surprise, Why Him? director John Hamburg co-wrote all those Focker films). This one casts Bryan Cranston as the upstanding family man living in bliss in a small mansion in a woodland paradise, whose good life ends when his daughter finds herself engaged to the one Silicon Valley entrepreneur who's a tattooed and unhygienic boor (James Franco!).
In short, this is the sort of family comedy that tends to open around Christmas and attract a lot of cross-generation audiences looking for a compromise film - like a Cheaper by the Dozen or a Daddy's Home, but probably without the same draw to younger audiences (although maybe I'm wrong; a lot of kids could presumably identify with Franco's character). Cranston is a distinguished actor of Academy Award caliber, here making his debut as a comedy film lead, playing the Steve Martin or Will Ferrell role of the put-upon suburban father who encounters insanity joining his family tree. Franco has the Mark Wahlberg role, as the billionaire (or gazillionaire) with vulgarian tendencies, and there's a nice supporting cast like Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, and Griffin Gluck (who was excellent in Middle School, a film that had the best twist ending of the year, a fact I will always make note of).