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November Forecast

By Calvin Trager

10. Half Past Dead

The only reason this made the list is the slim pickings of new releases out this month. Steven Seagal is back (why, I'm not sure) in yet another action-adventure role (yeah, I know, what did I expect?). Nia Peeples is his co-star, which gives you some impression of just how bad this film is likely to be. I won't shed a tear if I've miscalculated the box office potential of this baby and it tanks.

9. Wes Craven Presents They

Another default pick. Well, you can figure out that because Wes Craven is presenting, it's a horror film. That's right; a horror film debuting in time for the holiday season (tidings of comfort and joy, indeed; maybe the fact that this wasn't released in, say, October should be clue to its potential). They is being distributed by Dimension Films, who had a huge success with the Scream series. If they can strike gold again is anybody's guess. They stars Marc Blucas, who just might draw some bodies into the theater given his previous role on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. What?? You hated Riley and never want to lay eyes on Blucas' face again?? Never mind, then.

8. I Spy

Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy star in a loose remake of the '60s television series, with Wilson playing the Bill Cosby role of a government agent recruiting a professional athlete (Murphy taking on the Robert Culp role) to save the world. There's been a huge marketing push for I Spy and Murphy and Wilson have certainly mined the mixed-race buddy/action territory successfully before. However, there is the little issue of Pluto Nash to deal with. It bombed. Well, it more than bombed; it bombed spectacularly. Was it because audiences are tired of Murphy or because they were not ready for Eddie in space?? The fact that Wilson is getting more than equal time in the television ads for I Spy may be evidence that Columbia's not sure of the answer either.

7. Solaris

George Clooney stars in Steven Soderbergh's remake of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's film, Solaris. The box office potential of Clooney is fairly solid; Soderbergh's box office success depends more on product. This science-fiction film, set on the titular planet, involves some fairly deep subjects (i.e., this isn't Red Planet or Mission to Mars, and for that we should all be thankful). Marketing is going to be key to its success. If they play up Clooney and the Ocean's 11 Soderbergh...great. If they play up the psychological nature of the plot and the Full Frontal Soderbergh...not so great. I'd bet on the former, though, so look for good things from Solaris.

6. Friday After Next

Ice Cube is back in the third in the series of the Friday films. The first (Friday) made a surprisingly large sum of money. The next (Next Friday) made an even larger sum of money. Will Friday After Next continue the pattern? Probably. It's a franchise, which helps. And as Barbershop demonstrated, urban dramas having been doing amazing business as of late (I truly hate the term "urban" as it is attached to films. It's not like African Americans only live in urban areas. And every Woody Allen film is set in a city; why aren't his films considered urban? But I digress). Chalk up another success for Ice Cube and company.

5. The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs Clause

If this movie had been released a few years ago, maybe it would have been higher on the list. A follow-up to 1994's mega-hit, The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2 finds Tim Allen in search of his Mrs. Claus. I assume that much high-jinx ensues. The holiday season (starting awfully early with this November 1st release) is most always kind to family fare, and the obvious Christmas tie-in is to its benefit. A lot of time has passed since the original, and with the first film's core audience now in their teens, The Santa Clause 2 will be dependent on newer viewers who are unfamiliar with the original or only familiar with it through video viewing. Tim Allen is also not quite the name he was in 1994. Despite all this, a good holiday film should bring in some green for the Christmas season...except, of course, if some wizards put a hex on Santa Claus and his elves.

4. 8 Mile

Eminem may prove to be a huger draw than I'm giving him credit for, but I can't in good conscience rate this film higher than Disney, Bond and Potter. However, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong. This movie has Hollywood cred behind it (Curtis Hanson is its director and Oscar-winner Kim Basinger co-stars), and it has an appeal to a demographic not normally drawn to Curtis Hansen films. Much has been made of the rapper's acting chops and the films gritty, realistic view of life in down-and-out Detroit. Whether that's enough to bring in audiences who don't listen to rap or watch MTV remains to be seen. However, Eminem has a really large fan base and viewers in their teens tend to see films more than once if they like it (see: Titanic). This film may just conquer Treasure Planet, just like Eminem conquered the Billboard charts.

3. Treasure Planet

Disney's animated version of Treasure Island, set in outer space, debuts just in time for the holidays. As stated above, family fare is usually successful this time of the year, and Disney is the king of marketing animated features. Just how much Treasure Planet will be affected by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and The Santa Clause 2 is the real question mark. There are only so many free weekend days during November and December for parents to take their kids to the movies. If choices need to be made, one of these films will suffer. Word-of-mouth on Treasure Planet's quality, and the marketing strategy of Disney (which is usually first-rate) will be the key to ensuring that Treasure Planet is one of the choices in a very tight family-film box office race.

2. Die Another Day

There's nothing like a sure thing, and James Bond is one of the surer bets in the movie business. Each of Pierce Brosnan's Bond films has done remarkably well at the box office, and this time around you get the added bonus of an Oscar winner in a bikini (Sorry to disappoint you, Judi Dench fans! I'm referring to Halle Berry). Look for the 20th Bond film to earn the biggest first-weekend take for the series.

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Do I really need to explain why this movie will be the biggest grosser of November?? Hopefully, you're all saying "No, Calvin. It's perfectly obvious. You've done a great job with your forecast, go have a cocktail on us." For those of you who are insisting on a little reasoning, I'll give you the Forecasting for Dummies version: Harry Potter is a hugely popular book series. The first film had the second-biggest opening weekend of all time. Sequels tend to do better than the first film in a series. Family fare does well at holiday time. Do I need to go on? No? Good. I'm getting that drink now; a martini, shaken, not stirred, in honor of my old friend Bond.

  • 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 Stephanie Star Smith's November forecast

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    Monday, December 18, 2017
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