November 2017 Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

December 6, 2017


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Thanksgiving is the time of family tradition, when we all get together, feast until our bellies burst, and then promptly explode with rage waiting for the doors to open at Walmart. What a time. November of the year 2017 continues a tradition of billion dollar grosses for the tenth year in a row. Although not even close to the high mark of $1.5 billion set in November 2012, at least a few big films kept theaters treading water, if not outright swimming. There were also plenty of mid-range hits and buzzing indie darlings to keep movie lovers occupied. Let us see where audiences escaped to this month.

1) Thor: Ragnarok

Opening Weekend: $122.7 M
Monthly Box Office: $281.7 M

Thank goodness, a comic book movie is finally number one again, a drought that has persisted since July. I had feared that comic book movies had lost their luster and were on their way out. Never fear, the 16th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here to save the day. Thor does the expected, and hits another home run for Marvel and Disney. Director Taika Waititi also elevates a character who had kind of been sitting in B-level superhero territory, and firmly plants it in the A tier. Thor: End of the World (for English speaking audiences) is going to easily be the 10th MCU film to break $300 million domestic, not to mention the third just this year! One billion worldwide is just out of reach, as it will probably top out close to $900 million in the next few weeks. The first Thor earned $181 million, the second earned $206 million (and that after The Avengers). With Thor the Third earning nine figures above either of those, this is a massive win for Thor and company. Compounding that is the statistic of opening to domestic gross multiplier. For the first film it was 2.75, for the second 2.4, and with the third it looks like it will come right in between the two, which is not bad since it opened much higher than either film.

2) Justice League

Opening Weekend: $93.8 M
Monthly Box Office: $180.8 M

Dead horse, you are beaten! The match-up between DC and Marvel has been a foregone conclusion for some time now, but this is a blazing sign on a highway billboard, perhaps outside Ebbing, Missouri. Justice League performs the opposite of Marvel; get the superhero crew together, and the opening weekend is lower than the performance of any film leading up to it. After Wonder Woman’s performance earlier this year, I can only imagine how fast Zach Snyder is going to be cut from this series. It is extremely unfortunate what happened to his family while making this film, but perhaps it gives him a chance to walk away with dignity. I had been worried for the DC films when I first heard he was attached after Christopher Nolan finished his Batman trilogy, especially because of how god-awful Sucker Punch was. Similar to Transformers, audiences have finally caught on and diminishing returns are sucking the air from this breed of cinematic universe. With Aquaman and others on the horizon, can Warner Bros. engineer some kind of pivot and follow the success of Wonder Woman? Stay tuned!


3) Coco

Opening Weekend: $50.8 M
Monthly Box Office: $82.6 M

Ever since 1995, Pixar has staked out the month of November as their prime opening territory. Disney had been doing this before hand, and continues the tradition today (with and without Pixar), and others have turned this into a pre-holiday season bonanza. Harry Potter took it to another level, and ever since the tradition has been carried on like clockwork. This year Pixar repeats what Moana had done twelve months ago with Coco (it’s getting harder and harder to remember which Disney animated films are or are not Pixar movies). Coco is playing very similarly to Moana and Tangled, and should wind up splitting the difference between them for a total domestic gross slightly over $200 million. After missing a bit with Cars 3 this summer, Pixar keeps impressing and can at least hold its own compared to the rest of the Disney animation line-up. With John Lasseter taking a leave of absence, one wonders what changes will come to one or both of Disney’s juggernaut animation studios in the months and years to come.

4) Murder on the Orient Express

Opening Weekend: $28.7 M
Monthly Box Office: $78.1 M

Something a bit old fashioned shows up in fourth place this month, in a pleasing turn of events. Kenneth Branagh brought a whole bunch of celebrities together (remember those?) and puts them in a juicy who-done-it, actually perhaps one of the original who-done-its. Never doubt the power of a name like Agatha Christie to get the over-50 crowd in a movie theater. Eat it, James Cameron. Branagh’s tale puts himself front and center as the iconic detective Poirot, who must solve a murder mystery on a stranded train full of eccentrics. And then there’s that mustache! Murder also continues a very intriguing trend of 70mm film coming back into the theater, as it marks the second of three releases this year shot in either 70mm widescreen or IMAX formats and presented as such. Dunkirk was the one that made the most of this, and we will soon see how The Last Jedi utilized the large screen format. With decent holds and perhaps a run through Christmas, this one could just get to $100 million in the end.

5) Wonder

Opening Weekend: $27.5 M
Monthly Box Office: $75.5 M

The fifth biggest movie of November may actually be the most impressive box office story of the month. Wonder seemed like it could have been one of those saccharine tales around the holidays that tries a little too hard to be earnest and heartfelt, but then good reviews and positive buzz rolled in. Although this opened in a distant second to Justice League, consider how impressive it is that this film may soon have daily returns higher than that blockbuster title. Wonder will become Lionsgate’s highest grossing film of the year, in what has been a quietly excellent year for this mid-range studio. While the major studios have mostly ceded that middle ground where films can make between $25-$100 million, Lionsgate has filled that void with properties that never try to hit home runs, instead just steadily earn a slight profit. That has made Lionsgate a bigger earner this year than Paramount, and just about tied with Sony. Wonder will be their first and only film to earn $100 million domestic, but it shows that the studio that struck it huge with Twilight (after purchasing Summit Entertainment) and The Hunger Games has made some wise choices moving forward. Oh, and good for Julia Roberts, too.

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