November 2019 Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
November 8, 2019
Here is a release slate that would be totally believable in November 1993. There are no superheroes! Only three franchises! Were all the most evil of movie greenlighters sleeping on the job?
And not only that, but 2019 seems to divert a little from the way the November schedule has been organized for my entire adult life - instead of three or four clearcut blockbuster films that are locks to make $100m, we have just the one undisputed (if unwatchable) mega-movie, Frozen II, surrounded by a handful of upstart titles that may or may not just slightly touch at 100 mil - Terminator, Charlie's Angels, the razor-witted Knives Out - and more than a few serious films that run and run for well over two hours each.
November 2019 also joins May and August as a small number of this year's months to lay on the quantity - we've got something in the range of sixteen wide releases, even as awards contenders are fleeing far far away to streaming. In an age where one (unnamed) studio has dominated all else, is this the month cinema fights back?
1. Terminator: Dark Fate (November 1st)
Bam bam bam.
---Jamie Kennedy, Scream 2 (1997)
It just didn't feel right putting Frozen 2 at #1 on this forecast - morally, philosophically, ethically, legally. Sorry. I didn't do it because I really do believe Terminator 6 will outgross Frozen 2, although I think it probably will.
Dark Fate is the sixth film in the very franchise that perhaps most naturally lends itself to self-perpetuating reboots, what with its robot time travelers having the plot-blessed ability to arrive at any point in established continuity and boldly declare, "so, the last sequel didn't work? This is how we're going to do it instead."
After an Arnold-less Terminator 4 (starring Christian Bale and the late Anton Yelchin, RIP), we had Terminator 5, which nostalgically brought back Arnold Schwarzenegger, and since that didn't seem to work, we are now getting Terminator 6, which nostalgically brings back Arnold Schwarzenegger AND Linda Hamilton. It's good to see them.
The Terminator (1984) grossed $38m and had Schwarzenegger as an evil walking, talking machine sent back to kill Hamilton, the mother of a future anti-cyborg rebel leader. Seven years later, James Cameron came back and made the epic T2, which recast Schwarzenegger from villain to hero, and deservedly broke out as the biggest film of 1991 with $204m (yes, in 1991, that's all it took). From there, the series has unintentionally gradually been working back to its box office beginning. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was an excellent summer blockbuster that brought back Arnold and killed poor Linda Hamilton off, off screen, grossing $150m in the summer of 2003. Six years later, Terminator: Salvation was technically more of a sequel than normal, foregoing most time travel and telling of Christian Bale's gallant misadventures in the 2020s (oh, so we'll soon see just how accurate it was!).
And in 2015, Terminator: Genisys [sic???] brought back Arnie, as promised, and recast most of the leads in an extra time-jogging story that seemed to alter the continuity of just about all of the films. At that point, cyborg-bashing rebel leader John Connor had been portrayed by four different actors on the big screen, and Linda Hamilton was rebooted with poor Emilia Clarke. When the five foot ten Mackenzie Davis was cast in this new, T6, I assumed she was playing the current Hamilton avatar, but alas, she's brand new to the drama, a soldier who travels to 2019 to save another VIP of the future (Natalia Reyes) from yet another cyborg who carries only ill will (Gabriel Luna). Diego Boneta from Rock of Ages and Scream Queens is around also; Tim Miller, previously of Deadpool, directs. And Linda Hamilton, herself, is back to business, musclebound, stoic, delivering well-reviewed acting, and locked and loaded to blow away screaming cyborg assassins with her old pal Arnie. Really, it's good to have them back.
By the time this is published, quite, quite late (well, was I really supposed to be writing forecasts on Hallowe'en?), the film's box office fate will be known to all - it's set for a $28m opening, remarkably the exact number I had in mind for it (ok, I was thinking around $39m). The Terminator-flavoured detour in Christian Bale's life grossed $125m, while Genisys pulled in $89m in 2015. The sixth film, I fear, despite its generally warm reviews, will end up somewhere between this recent 89 and the original film's 38, in a box office chain that has indeed gone from its 1991 high-point in decreasing installments with each film, all the way back to the inevitable beginning number. Sometimes, perhaps the past should be left neither changed, nor revisited.
Opening weekend: $28 million / Total gross: $66 million
2. Frozen II (November 22nd)
Disney returns with a film that may well outgross their own Star Wars 11, set for next month (although it will likely stop shy of beating up on Disney's Avengers 4, which reigns supreme atop 2019 with $858m. Is this the sort of evil Thanos had in mind?).
Frozen was an original story (well, vaguely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen, but you know with originality I have to grade on a curve) about the family drama of two nice Scandinavian princesses, a snowman with a heart of gold and eyes perched too close on its head, and a hulking but lovable axe man from the woods (who ends up marrying well). It opened wide on a quiet Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, with a mere pittance of a number, barely fit to ek out a modest living - $67 million for the three days, behind the second weekend of The Hunger Games 2. Hey, nice job, Disney, we all said. Here is another mid-tier animated hit.
Then the nights grew short and the snows fell upon suburban hills, and the children looked up into the winter sky and began their song, in disparate but harmonious melody that rang through the land, "Let it go! Let it go! The perfect girl is gone! Here I stand in the light of d..." (end transmission).
And as the song and film pulsed through the cultural landscape that season, Frozen remained on those box office charts week after week, carrying hefty grosses back to the Disney lot - $31 million! $19 million! $22 million! (it reached number one only twice, in its second and sixth weekends of wide release). Like a mini Titanic with a snowman instead of a Leo. By the end of its run, Frozen had grossed $400m, easily topping anything released in December 2013 (though behind Iron Man 3 and Hunger Games 2), and the film persisted in winning its Best Original Song Oscar even as John Travolta wittily trolled it by mangling poor Idina Menzel's name into kingdom come.
Winter 2013-2014 turned into summer, and the theatres began their dutiful process of clearing out remaining Frozen screenings (RoboCop and Need for Speed weren't going to show themselves, you know). Frozen would have a long life on "home video" and through television specials and toy merchandising sales, of course, but the question on our minds was, how long did we film people have to enjoy life in a carefree and innocent manner, until that sequel came roaring into town and back into our lives?
It was longer than I thought, actually. Yes, Pixar's Coco was goosed down with a bonus Frozen animated short that played there for a week before being taken down and sent packing (and it didn't even call the next morning!). But it has been a long six years until the full-length Frozen sequel finally arrives, a Pixar-like wait for an animated sequel.
The voice cast are all back, of course, dragged into the booth screaming and yelling under threat and duress. Kristen Bell is still Princess Anna, Idina Menzel is the edgier Elsa, Josh Gad has not melted yet (snowman Olaf), and Jonathan Groff is the wood chopper Kristoff. They are joined by Alan Tudyk (the Duke of Weselton) and Ciarán Hinds (the Troll King), and I reasonably assume one or both of these new characters will have to be slain, if not graphically, for the film to end (well, get going then). Our favourite residents of the ambiguous Skanland/Arendelle remain in their wintry tundra, far from any kind of humorous change of pace - like a nice, warm Caribbean setting or sending them all to space (either way, the snowman would have to cover up).
For its increasingly and malevolently indestructible studio, Disney, this should represent one of four titles that easily clear $500m this year (to be clear, no other studio has any film even approaching such numbers). Barring truly disastrous reviews (you know, like only 79% Fresh), I see Frozen II landing right up above The Lion King ($543m), and perhaps somewhere 'neath Star Wars' putative $600m gross. There are only so many endless winter weekends, after all.
Opening weekend: $182 million / Total gross: $545 million
3. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (November 22nd)
If you liked Joker...
Here is another supervillain origin story, about a simple and goodhearted Pittsburgh man who trains for the Presbyterian priesthood, marries after World War II and raises a family, and then channels his life's work to television, beginning a run of a beloved early morning show aimed at preaching kindness to young children, before embarking on a long and successful career in violent crime.
It's the story of Fred
No really, the man was a saint, I know, I know. Everyone who knew him loved him. He did good for children. Taught and mentored a generation. Radiated moral values, and softened the rough edges of the culture. He kept darkness at bay.
But I dunno. Absolute kindness without even a tiny little hint of subversive irony never did anyone any good. Also, I have this condition wherein when 'everybody' really praises something, I can't quite give it my full approval ("being a d--k," I think it's called. Try it sometimes). For example, how is a person such as myself really supposed to react to unimpeachable cultural icons, like, say, Beyoncé, Star Wars... Tom Hanks?
Rogers' life was depicted in Won't You Be My Neighbor?, an excellent documentary from 2018 that was so emotionally moving that patrons were said to be crying at the sight of its very trailer (so was I, but for different reasons).
Now, one year later, for those thirsty for more, it is indeed Tom Hanks who stars as Fred Rogers, and the casting is a little too on the nose (was Tobin Bell unavailable?). Though apparently Rogers/Krueger has been relegated to a supporting role in his own film, with a journalist played by Matthew Rhys hogging up an awful lot of screen time and leaving poor Hanks' stabs at kindness as at a more intermittent minimum. Oh, well.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is getting quite good reviews, and should find itself the recipient of at least some awards attention (Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar two years in a row, and perhaps as punishment was basically snubbed even a nomination for Captain Phillips, so he might be due again). And this is exactly the kind of movie that opens well in late November, sticks around through the Thanksgiving holiday and early December, and then racks up, five million, four million, seven million dollars, etc., weekends through the holiday slate. Kindness goes well on the holidays. Just throw me a bone with a little knowing wink.
Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $82 million
4. Knives Out (November 27th)
This comedic murder-mystery with a satirical bent is a film that proved a ribald hit at the Toronto International Film Fest (and at any other festival that would have it). Now, us civilians get to see it, too. Reviews are uniformly excellent.
Rian Johnson directed the actually quite excellent Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and then was mercifully released from further galaxy far away duties to make this much less unnecessary film. Christopher Plummer plays a very rich old man who is killed in his spacious estate by someone who just couldn't wait to nibble away at that inheritance.
The film has ensnared so many cast members that any forecast of this film threatens to sound like a teacher taking attendance, and now shall. Jamie Lee Curtis, who mused that evil retconnish Halloween 2018 would be her last film (did she add an lol?) stars as the man's daughter. She is joined by Don Johnson as her husband, Michael Shannon as a scholarly type with grimace glued on face, and Toni Collette in her trademark role as the other sister. Katherine Langford, the very good young actress from 13 Reasons Why, is a granddaughter, Chris Evans is out of the Marvel Universe and in this gene pool, and Jaeden Martell (the lead kid from It and St. Vincent) is another sullen Plummer descendant. These all and others are gathered at a country estate, where they are berated and interrogated by the police (Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield) before the culprit is finally revealed and taken away forever. Craig here is affecting another one of his regionally-distinct American accents, which should be familiar to any who survived his Southern brogue in Logan Lucky.
The film bears a passing resemblance to Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston's recent murder mystery, Murder Mystery (hey, I said, "passing"), another movie about a millionaire patriarch struck down in his golden years, in an implausible manner. Netflix tells me that some 30 million accounts viewed Murder Mystery on its first weekend out on their service, June 14th, and whether the figure is precisely accurate or not, it probably shouldn't be. There are more shades of Murder on the Orient Express, another elegant-looking mystery with a big name cast that ekked out a $100m gross two Novembers ago. If we must plagiarize any blueprint, that's the one.
Opening weekend: $24m (5-day) / Total gross: $75 million
5. Charlie's Angels (November 15th)
The tale of three rambunctious secret agents, who on a weekly basis are instructed by a voice in a box to save the world, first played in the only decade it probably could have, the 1970s. The Charlie's Angels television series then found itself caught in the c. 2000 wave of TV shows adapted to the big screen, with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu starred in that version, which was big enough to inspire a 2003 sequel. Since that follow-up was an underperformer, we had to wait until all the way to 2019 to see another chapter, with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska taking over the angel duties presently (you'll have do the cross-matching to the 2000 cast yourself, if you must).
McG (the name of a man, not of an emoji) made his mark directing the originals, and this new 2010s iteration is by Elizabeth Banks, who has already helmed down Pitch Perfect 2, which broke the opening record for a first-time director, and who on the big screen was most recently seen arguing fiercely with her evil space alien son about proper motherly discipline in BrightBurn (spoiler: she lost the discussion).
The script is written by Banks from a story co-concocted by august playwright David Auburn (Proof), who I assume must have been waiting decades to get a crack at this material. The cast is joined on-screen not only by Banks but also Sam Claflin, Djimon Hounsou, and Patrick Stewart, three actors that between them cover roughly 15 2010s mega-franchises (Pirates, The Hunger Games, X-Men, the MCU, and even Shazam!!), and by Netflix's own breakout star Noah Centineo, who was released from captivity by the streaming service for a few weeks before being sucked back in for more work.
For some weird but totally understandable reason, I really enjoyed that 2003 sequel, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (hey, I was seventeen, man), and there's a chance or two I could even sit through another film. The original big-screen Angels was certainly a reasonable blockbuster - $125m total, with the sequel bounding down to $100m; but I don't know that a lot of the novelty hasn't worn down over the years - once you've seen about sixteen or nineteen films about female super agents having a good time while taking down screaming bad guys, you may start to feel like you've seen them all. Even if you are wrong.
Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $54 million
6. Midway (November 8th)
Roland Emmerich tackles a straight-forward war film without any of his trademark bells and whistles ("during the Battle of Midway, aliens attack earth" has been chiseled down now, to simply - "The Battle of Midway"). The film begins with the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and leads into the June 1942 battle between the U.S. and the Japanese, where the Americans, led by Chester Nimitz, took a big sting out of the Japanese War Machine.
Still riding on his Independence Day wave, Emmerich had his 2012 (the film) break out to rather excellent numbers ($166m total) ten years ago, in November, 2009, and in the decade since has directed three films preceeding this one, White House Down ($73m total; 2013), with Channing Tatum rescuing Jamie Foxx, the president, and the smaller-scale, historical Anonymous (2011), about the authorship of the plays William Shakespeare wrote, and Stonewall (2015), about the historical 1969 riots. Midway seems to bridge the gap between the personal and the political, or between Emmerich's stabs at serious historical re-enactments and fireworks and war.
It carries an $100 million budget and, as per Emmerich tradition, a big name cast, led mostly by sturdy middle-aged men (Aaron Eckhart, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson, and soon to officially be declared a national treasure, Woody Harrelson as Nimitz), as well as the younger Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas, and as the girl left behind in these films, Mandy Moore, in a classic role for this type of war film (out of thirteen character posters, she's the only non-male).
I haven't heard too much Oscars talk, but it's always necessary. The film opens on the weekend before Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, and should do well with older audiences, the kind that gave Clint Eastwood a $100m present last year for playing a drug runner they could call their own in The Mule. Historical war films such as Midway used to be common on the release date, and so another Midway, in 1976, with Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda, was typical of the era. Now this film, from a director who helped define the modern blockbuster, finds itself a few paces off from the times.
Opening weekend: $22 million / Total gross $63 million
7. Ford v Ferrari (November 15th)
While their names remain on the masthead, neither star Christian Bale nor Matt Damon is playing a Ford nor a Ferrari. Rather they're avatars for one of the big car men. Damon is designer Carroll Shelby of Ford, and Bale is British race car driver Ken Miles, who team to win Le Mans in 1966 on behalf of the company name. Isn't that odd casting? He's played an American for so long that at this point I can't even imagine Bale with an English accent.
The title Ford v Ferrari is in the tradition of the legendary bout of Freddy Vs. Jason, and also Alien Vs. Predator, and suggests a big public feud, shades of Edison-Westinghouse slugfest The Current War, now out somewhere. But what we have here is a long, deep, acclaimed, historical film, carrying serious and name actors (Jon Bernthal and Tracy Letts also have big roles), and running at two and a half hours, staring the American moviegoing public in the face with its brazen old-fashioned awards season bonafides.
When plotting out the box office for Ford v Ferrari, every road I take comes back to Rush, an excellent 2013 film about European car racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, with Chris Hemsworth being directed by Ron Howard and totaling but $26 million plus in U.S. dollars. I almost assumed Howard was directing this film, too; James Mangold, a Howard-like director of excellent dramas like Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma does the honours. Do most North American audiences dig Le Mans and ancient car rivalries? Do serious actors telling sturdy, straight-laced tales attract big ticket sales any longer, even with 85% and over on the TomatoMeter? Those are the questions the film is staking its fate on, even if oversees audiences are likely to more than recoup its costs regardless of the domestic verdict it's ultimately handed down.
Opening weekend: $19 million / Total gross: $54 million
8. Doctor Sleep (November 8th)
The 2010s' second last horror film (Black Christmas in December, y'all!) is also its very last horror sequel (it's The Shining II), and so of course we have a rule, invented by me, to adhere to: very few first-time horror sequels outgross the totals of their predecessors. And even though near 39 years have passed, all rules still apply. Most box office websites list The Shining as having totaled at $44m in 1980, although I know I've seen somewhere in the neighborhood of $75m cited at some point (who ever could question my memory?).
The original story was about Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance, writer who goes insane (even by Mad Jack standards) while overseeing an ice-cold frozen Colorado ski resort, and who decides out of ghostly prodding and probably also boredom to axe murder his family, to death (he failed, and he never did get his manuscript finished, either). This time out, Ewan McGregor stars as the man's son, young Danny Torrance (the resemblance to Nicholson is uncanny), now slightly less youthful than he was in 1980. Back then he was played by Danny Lloyd, a child actor who was born in 1972, a year after McGregor, and so the casting is just almost note-perfect on matching ages (Lloyd also retired from his craft in 1982, so he probably isn't too sore at being replaced).
The film is adapted from Stephen King's 2013 novel, which ran 531 pages (and counting), and since The Shining ended with poor, frozen Jack dead and all plot threads seemingly having been resolved, the sequel has quite a few addendums that have found themselves into Danny Torrance's world in these 39 years: an evil cult, a serial killer, and supernaturally tinted humans populate the periphery, with their presence and antics adding up to another epic horror film runtime, 152 minutes (a brainfull still dwarfed by It: Chapter Two).
Writing and director have been taken over by Mike Flanagan, the horror auteur who was behind the good Occulus (2014) and the even better Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), and also made Gerald's Game, another Stephen King adaptation, for Netflix (2017). With much plot to cover in all its screen time, much cast has been added: Rebecca Ferguson as a cult leader, Bruce Greenwood as an AA stalwart, Henry Thomas as an evil ghost, Carl Lumbly taking over Scatman Crothers' role of Dick Hallorann from the original (yes, he was apparently killed, but has had almost four decades to feel a little better). They even found some room for Jacob Tremblay, today's reigning child actor, before he heads back to the set of whichever, other, totally inappropriate R-rated horror film he's working on at the moment.
Reviews are generally "up" on the thumb scale, though there's a lot of material to explain to the average moviegoer, the film lacks a big draw or pressing plot points to resolve, all the while that horror doesn't always sell in November (war-zombie movie Overlord, on the same weekend last year, came and went quickly). And those are about all the contrived reasons I have for Doctor Sleep coming in with a total under The Shining's, at least if we assume the correct number is 44.
Opening weekend: $19 million / Total gross: $43 million
9. Last Christmas (November 8th)
Emilia Clarke plays a Londoner who's hired by a department store as a Christmas elf (the resemblance is uncanny), and Henry Golding is the mysterious man who wins her heart and turns this from a goofy G-rated film for kids to a PG-13 romantic comedy. Clarke's long nine year run as a television dragon woman (Game of Thrones, I think?) has now come to its end, and filmdom must and will have her. Golding debuted on American screens in Crazy Rich Asians, and, just as his co-star Constance Wu had her sophomore hit with Hustlers, Golding must hope the good run is contagious.
Last Christmas apparently borrows its title from a well-known and oft-played song, but its own credentials are impeccable: co-writteny by Emma Thompson, and directed by Paul Feig, who slows down from raunchy (Bridesmaids) and violent (The Heat) if very good entertainments to a more down-home, low-key Christmas romance, taking place in the quiet barrens of a nice small town like London, England.
I think Frozen II is debatable enough so that Last Christmas and Black Christmas (December 13) are the year's only unabashed Christmas films (no offense at all to Feig and team, but you know which one of the two I'm counting down the hours to). Last Christmas seems like a nice little film with a lot of appeal for romantic comedy fans, who've been underserved for a good fews years. I'm probably about right on the range for its opening, but its total gross has a lot more potential if its audience finds it and sticks by its side.
Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $35 million
10. Playing with Fire (November 8th)
WWE's own John Cena has often been marked down as the "new" Dwayne Johnson, and here continues along his wrestling compatriot's classic hero's journey through the well-trodden path of action, comedy, franchise rescue, and, eventually, the presidency of the united states (in that order).
Here, we are still at stage number two, comedy (Cena's Bumblebee took care of the action part, even if the man himself let the robots settle their own differences and was almost entirely absent from that film's climax). In Playing with Fire, the movie title is to be taken absolutely literally and thus humorously, because Cena plays a wildfire fighter who joins his buddies down at the station (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo) in rescuing and then raising a trio of helpless and presumably adorable children, and creating the same contrast the Rock has been going to lunch on for years, whether with child actors or Kevin Hart: here we have three tough, straw-chewing, comedically manly men chasing after, and being lovingly humiliated by, innocent young moppets.
In such a situation, humour is believed to be inevitable, and this places Playing with Fire solidly in the column of November movies about small children prone to humorous antics who are adopted by befuddled but loving parents (Instant Family and Yours, Mine & Ours are two others along the same curve and matching release dates). The director, Andy Fickman, also did The Game Plan (with the Rock as a football player who raises a little girl) and Parental Guidance (the title also is literal and tells all). Instant Family got good reviews and grossed $67m. Playing with Fire must be aiming for same.
Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $40 million
11. Harriet (November 1st)
Abolitionist Harriet Tubman fled slavery in 1849 and spent the subsequent decades as a Union spy and leader of the Underground Railroad, guiding slaves to freedom. Here, she gets an overdue film biopic, in a cast led by the masterful Cynthia Erivo, supported by Leslie Odom, Jr., Janelle Monáe, and Joe Alwyn, in near-typecast cruelly handsome mode, and directed by Kasi Lemmons of Eve's Bayou. Erivo is a British stage actress who won a Tony and a group Grammy and then decided to give the big screen a go. She was excellent as the soul singer with no secret in Bad Times at the El Royale, and then the hairdresser who picked up a gun and joined the crew of the film Widows, even though she'd never even been married.
Now, in her third film for three out of three consecutive wins, she is Harriet Tubman, in a title that has received positive reviews (73%) if not raves, and is noted for its value as an education historical drama and Erivo's pointed performance. When it comes to the Academy Award for Best Actress, she'll most likely be a nominee.
The film is set to open with around $10m (no, not that far off from Terminator 6's $28m, it must to be said). I like Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, but Harriet should have strong legs in the coming week, so much so that the gap between itself and the killer cyborg movie will be lowered a few notches more.
Well, the woman is a legend. Though for the title I would have picked Tubman: it lands even stronger.
Opening weekend: $10m (well, we know) / Total gross: $35 million
12. Motherless Brooklyn (November 1st)
Edward Norton stars as a Tourette's Syndrome-suffering private detective who spends nearly two hours and twenty minutes of screen time chasing down the man who killed Bruce Willis in 1950s New York.
Norton directs himself here, taking the reigns on the camera for the first time since Keeping the Faith, the quite droll 2000 film about the priest and the rabbi and the woman they both loved (it had a nice, happy ending). His new film is a detective story credentialed with impressive source material (Jonathan Letham's 1999 novel) and the kind of a supporting cast that a beloved actor like Norton can instantly summon to his side - Willis, Cherry Jones, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Alec Baldwin, who's been so good so often and so long that he should join Woody Harrelson above as certified national treasure material.
Motherless Brooklyn was set in the present in its novel form, but Norton took it back to the fifties so he could let his set designers unleash their epic skills, and I imagine fans of "Old New York" will get a kick out of it. Indeed, adult audiences looking for serious works at the box office will have quite a lot of material this month, even putting aside the three and a half hours of Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, which is playing somewhere out there too this month before Netflix streams it. Motherless Brooklyn may be lost in the crowd. But it's a plus that it exists.
Opening weekend: $2 million / Total gross: $5 million
13. Arctic Dogs (November 1st)
This is a nice animated film about canines working minimum wage nine to five, and five to nine in the snowy tundra, serving their ungrateful humans in conditions not fit for any dog (actually, there don't look to be humans here - this is one of those Zootopia utopias where the animal kingdom has successfully replaced humans and are clearly running things much more efficiently).
As with almost every major CGI film, Arctic Dogs carries an A-list animated cast - the voices of Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Angelica Huston, and John Cleese, among many others - jezzz, these are actually impressive - and arrives at a pre-ordained release date, the beginning of November, a tradition for CGI animated films going back to Monsters, Inc. (November 2nd, 2001) and right through The Grinch last year (November 9th).
Most of those CGI animations were blockbusters (The Grinch outgrossed the Jim Carrey version by a few million, at least unadjusted for inflation), while it seems Arctic Dogs, while carrying an expensive price tag ($50 million), shall open in the very low single digits. While I can't exactly explain it, fate is often so unkind.
Opening weekend: $1 million / Total gross: $1 million