November 2004 Forecast
By Marty Doskins
Historically, there seem to be two main kinds of films released during November. First, since the end of the month is the start of the big holiday movie season, you find quite a few blockbusters on the schedule. And second, there are Oscar contenders. These usually don’t seem to be the top-notch films, but the studios still want to get them out toward the end of the year to keep them fresh with the Academy’s voting members. As I took a look at the November release schedule, I thought there were a lot more of the blockbusters than Oscar hopefuls. I had trouble ranking these moneymakers because I could see almost all of them starting their opening weekend with a bang. But I had to do something to get down my picks for the month.
And now, on to my top ten for November.
1. The Incredibles
The collaboration deal between Pixar and Walt Disney is over. However, there is still work to be released. As with all animated features, this one has been in the works for quite some time and until very recently, there’s been very little footage released. Most moviegoers have seen Mr. Incredible at home trying desperately to get his utility belt on countless times. But it was enough of a reminder to keep it on peoples’ minds. And on November 5th, we’ll see the big payoff at the box office. I have the feeling that it won’t have the biggest opening by a Pixar film, but it will still dominate this month.
2. The Polar Express
This film is based on the wonderfully illustrated book from Chris Van Allsburg. I read this book a few months ago and was impressed with the illustrations. This inspired me to take a look at other books from Van Allsburg. I love the way he uses light in his illustrations and the realism that he adds into his work; the books come to life. From early commercials and trailers, I think they have done an incredible job translating Van Allsburg’s work from the printed page to the big screen. You should see a pretty big audience of kids begging their parents to take the to see this one. You’ll also have the impact of the people that take their families to see every Christmas-related movie as it’s released. Overall, I think this adds up to a very strong opening weekend.
3. Seed of Chucky
What can I say? The killer puppet has got himself quite a following with more people jumping on the bandwagon daily, including his new baby! As with all horror films, I expect this to have a big opening. However, I think this is a little bit different from a generic horror film. There’s a big fanbase for this series and I think it will hold on longer than most other films in the horror genre. I think we can expect to see a four-week multiplier at or above 2.5, where most horror films struggle to get up to the 2.2 range.
4. National Treasure
Dan Brown’s best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code has brought a new interest to cryptography and mysteries involving using those types of clues. I think this film is taking advantage of that interest. The studio put its money where its mouth is by hiring Nicolas Cage for the lead role, and they’re unleashing a massive ad blitz during many highly rated primetime TV shows. The commercials are eye-catching and filled with action (i.e. lots of edits). I think that they are effective and should show positive results during the weekend of November 19th.
I think that there has been a big expectation that huge epic historical films would translate into huge box office receipts. That has been shown to be a misconception. This type of film does fairly well, but just doesn’t grab enough of an audience to make it to the big time. They do hang around the charts for quite a while, so their numbers end up high, but these results don’t show on opening weekend. The numbers should be good, but not great.
6. After the Sunset
This heist film packs a bit of star power, including Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Don Cheadle. I think that’s enough to put this firmly at the number six spot on the list. With a little push from maketing, it could move up a spot, but I think at least my top four films are a lock.
7. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
The original film made $71 million with an $11 million opening. I don’t think it’s developed that much of a following since its release. There has been some information provided during production on shows like Entertainment Tonight, but the advertising’s really dropped off. I think this one’s a solid “middle of the road” opener.
8. SpongeBob SquarePants
For years, fans of SpongeBob have wondered when their hero would have his own movie. They don’t need to wait any longer. This film is one of those that could have a huge opening, but I’m playing it conservative. I know the fanbase for this one is wider than 6-8 year olds. However, I don’t think it’ll translate to a big opening. I think we should see this film on video sooner rather than later.
This remake of the 1966 nominee for the Best Picture Oscar does nothing for me in terms of box office. The marketing just hasn’t been there to back this up. However, there will be some draw from Jude Law fans. But that’s not saying much.
10. Christmas with the Kranks
I think I’ve seen this movie on TV before. It was called Home Improvement. I even remember the episode from the TV show that is exactly like the scene in the movie poster. Tim’s on the roof trying to win the annual neighborhood Christmas lighting contest when he slips and ends up hanging from the roof with the light cord wrapped around his body. This film has been done before and though it has a Christmas theme, I think it just barely sneaks into the November top ten. In fact, it gets in so narrowly that it could very well be beaten out by some limited releases, including Miramax’s Finding Neverland.