November Forecast

By Stephanie Star Smith

10. I Spy and Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights (tie)

When will Hollywood learn that if you're going to make a big-screen movie from a TV show, you ought to stick fairly close to the original premise and characters? For whatever reason, the creators of I Spy decided they needed to play around with the concept and characters, thus alienating the very built-in audience one supposes they were seeking. Perhaps it was done in some misguided effort play to Eddie Murphy's dubious strengths, although why that couldn't have been woven into the original concept is beyond me. The trailer looked dismal, and the TV ads don't look much better, so I thoroughly expect I Spy to be the holiday movie season's first spectacular crash-and-burn.

Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights isn't technically an Adam Sandler film, in the way that The Waterboy or Mr Deeds were Adam Sandler films. For one thing, this is an animated story; for another...well, let's just say that the crude antics of Mr Sandler aren't nearly as appealing in cartoon form as they are in live-action, at least judging from the trailer. Still, Sandler's fan base can't be entirely counted out, nor can the possible appeal of hearing a new version of The Hanukah Song. I just don't think this will be one of Sandler's more successful efforts.

9. Solaris

A remake of a Russian science-fiction film, Solaris brings the not-inconsiderable box office clout of Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney to the table in its effort to distinguish itself from the pack this holiday season. Opening over that box office bonanza known as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Solaris has at least the foundation for a good box office run; however, the storyline is considered a difficult one to follow, so word-of-mouth will be crucial in this film making more than a brief appearance in either the box office top ten or theaters.

8. The Emperor's Club

Every holiday season has to have one sappy, feel-good, Oscar-bait movie, and this year, it's the Emperor's Club. Basically Goodbye, Mr Chips American-style, this is the latest in a long line of family-fare weepies the studios love to release around this time of year that do land-office business and bring about a few year-end awards nominations. Riding on Kevin Kline's capable shoulders, The Emperor's Club should enjoy a middling run at the box office, enough to keep it in theaters until at least the New Year.

7. Wes Craven Presents: They

Wes Craven's name provides a certain cachet in the horror field, and regardless of his actual involvement in a given film, productions associated with him seem to do fairly well at the box office, relative to the genre. This film is getting some positive early response in terms of its creepiness factor, and there isn't really a film out there that will be aimed at the horror audience, so provided They is deserving of Craven's imprimatur, it should be able to ride its niche audience to a decent box office run.

6. 8 Mile

8 Mile is making the list because pseudo-autobiographical films about music stars can be unpredictable. 8 Mile and its star, Eminem, have received some early positive notices, so it's entirely possible we could be looking at another Purple Rain here. It's also entirely possible that we could be looking at a dismal failure, given that Eminem's star is beginning to dim just a bit. However, this film is reportedly tracking quite well; hence its appearance this high on my list.

5. Friday After Next

This third installment in Ice Cube's lucrative Friday franchise is getting a bit of a boost by being released close to the Thanksgiving weekend. The first film in the series surprised everyone by doing as well as it did, and the second managed to improve on the success of the first. Judging from TV ads, the third installment could continue this upwards trend. It will certainly bring in its target demographic, and should enjoy a moderate amount of crossover success. And certainly the holiday weekend will help boost its take, so we'll likely be seeing a Friday Two Weeks From Now or some such title in a year or so.

4. Treasure Planet

This is Disney's latest animated offering, a re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Opening Thanksgiving weekend, with the traditional Disney marketing push and some additional appeal garnered by the soundtrack song from the Goo Goo Dolls' lead singer, Treasure Planet should provide the kiddies on school holiday with the perfect film to see over and over and over again when they've tired of Harry Potter. This one will suffer slightly, as it seems to have little adult appeal and thus will be a drop-'em-off film instead of a see-it-with-them film; however, since Disney is able to make a decent box office showing with even its mediocre animated offerings, and there's the holiday boost to consider, one expects this to land near the top of the November box office list.

3. The Santa Clause 2

Disney brings us not one, but two films this holiday season, with the live-action sequel to the very successful The Santa Clause hitting theatres early in the month. Given that the film concerns Christmas and Santa Claus, one wonders at the timing. But Disney is nothing if not marketing-savvy, and I'm sure their PR folks have a good reason for the choice of release date. Tim Allen's box office clout hasn't been much in evidence of late, but there's no denying he can put butts in the seats when in the right vehicle, and judging from the trailer and ads, this sequel definitely plays to his strengths. Hell, I even didn't mind the atrocious pun of a title, and I generally hate puns. The Mouse House's coffers should be full to overflowing this holiday season.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Of course, even the good folks at Disney can't override a cultural phenomenon, and Harry Potter certainly falls into that category. The second film of the series premieres mid-month, its trailer having been viewed repeatedly by every kidlet who bought the videotape and DVD earlier this year. Combine that with the audience garnered from the books and that Harry Potter is very much a stay-and-see-it-with-them film, and the young wizards at Hogwarts should make quite the killing at box office. Expect this one to still be in theaters well into the new year.

1. Die Another Day

Franchises loom large this month, and the latest entrant from the granddaddy of all film franchises should end up in the top spot. Pierce Brosnan, the best Bond since Connery, returns as 007, along with the requisite high-octane stunts, cooler-than-cool gadgets, and megalomaniacal villain bent on taking over the world. This outing includes Academy Award winner Halle Berry as one of the Bond girls, although there's been no word yet on whether her breasts make a guest appearance. We also have the inimitable John Cleese filling the shoes of the late Desmond Llewelyn as the curmudgeonly Q. Bond will, of course, save the world, flirt with the bad girl, win the heart of the good girl, and look impossibly suave and debonair while doing all of it. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Read Tim Briody's November forecast
  • Read Walid Habboub's November forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis' November forecast
  • Read Dan Krovich's November forecast
  • Read David Mumpower's November forecast
  • Read Calvin Trager's November forecast