December 2016 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
December 1, 2016
Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $48 million
9. Incarnate (December 2nd)
The only film launched into wide release on the first December weekend is this horror picture, from the same studio, High Top, that distributed The Darkness on a similarly off-season May weekend earlier this year. Incarnate resembles The Darkness in multitudes - a possessed child, ancient spirits, a big name star who seems perhaps vaguely out of place (Aaron Eckhart is that lead). Incarnate is not being screened for critics, and that might mean what it means. But it's noteworthy that this December weekend has become a real roach motel (if I may say) of horror films, with The Pyramid taking December 5, 2014 and the surprisingly potent Krampus carrying a strong opening on December 4, 2015. It's a holiday tradition that may last. And if Krampus 2 ever gets made, you know what weekend it's invading.
Opening weekend: $1 million / Total gross: $2 million
10+. La La Land (December 9th) and co.
As the bigger films eat up the word count, the Oscar season quietly bubbles away, with Sully ($124 million total) so far leading the awards contender box office. That's a film that's destined to exist mostly as a nomination placeholder - it may score an Oscar nod or two, but it can't win in any of the big categories.
That brings us to the month's big awards contender, which is indeed La La Land, a film most Oscar prognosticators expect to win Best Picture three months from now, with its fellow traveler Manchester by the Sea, still stuck out in a handful of screens as I write this, predicted to stand as its biggest opposition. The La La film is a mostly light musical celebration of showbusiness and its title city (yes, Los Angeles), and stars everyone's favorite pair of Canadian and American cross-border star-crossed lovers, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (in their third film together, for those still counting). As such, it has a lot of box office potential, especially with illustrious reviews and the direction of Damien Chazelle, who expertly helmed the much more nasty musical film Whiplash two years ago. If La La Land makes $100 million, it wouldn't surprise me. In fact, it will likely at least get close.
Elsewhere, Natalie Portman's well-reviewed turn as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in Jackie will likely hit most markets by the year's end, but most of the country will have to make do with the Oscar contenders from previous months, many of which are still climbing towards wide release. December's obvious awards notables, like Peter Berg's Patriots Day, Ben Affleck's Live By Night, Annette Bening's 20th Century Women, the ensemble Hidden Figures, Martin Scorsese's lengthy drama Silence, and even Michael Keaton in, and as, The Founder of McDonalds, will open somewhere in December but apparently expand most everywhere only in January (wow, that sounds like a big January). Can you blame these films for holding back a bit? I agree with their assessment: Star Wars is scary.