The cinema business has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. This same month last year, November 2020, only one film released theatrically earned more than $10 million total — The Croods: A New Age. That amount would now make for a low opening day for some of the November 2021 films listed below.
Here are some of the wide release films arriving in cinemas next month.
Friday, November 5
Premise: Disney and Marvel Studios’ superhero teamup comes from director Chloé Zhao, the reigning Academy Award for Best Director winner for 2020’s Nomadland. Starring Angelina Jolie, the film takes the same “first weekend of November” frame that propelled the success of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) releases Doctor Strange in 2016 and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.
Box office comparisons: Marvel’s most recent title, September’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, surpassed all expectations with a $221.5M domestic gross to date, likely to finish somewhere around $230M total. The aforementioned Doctor Strange earned $232.6M total, while Thor: Ragnarok made $315.0M (although it also had the benefit of being a sequel).
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Wednesday, November 10
Premise: Paramount adapts the bestselling children’s book series by Norman Bridwell and animated PBS Kids television series from the 2000s for the big screen, in this tale of a girl named Emily Elizabeth and her giant pet. Director Walt Becker is no stranger to the subject matter, directing the 2009 Disney comedy Old Dogs with Robin Williams and John Travolta.
Box office comparisons: Another “live-action kid and their giant animated pet” movie, 2016’s Pete’s Dragon earned $76.2M. However, box office comparisons may be inexact because of Clifford‘s day-and-date simultaneous debut on Paramount+.
Friday, November 12
Premise: Focus Features presents this black-and-white tale of a boy’s life in 1960s Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, previously Academy Award-nominated for directing 1990’s Henry V, and who also directed such 2010s box office hits as Thor and Murder on the Orient Express.
Box office comparisons: The independent film subsidiary of Universal Pictures, Focus Features has released 14 films theatrically in 2021, with the highest grossing being Stillwater at $14.4M, so that’s probably the target to beat here. Most other Focus Features titles this year have earned in the $1M-$6M range, including Roadrunner ($5.2M), Boogie ($4.1M), and The Card Counter ($2.6M). Belfast‘s most apt recent comparison — another semi-autobiographical film shot in black and white and released late in the year as an awards contender — is Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 Roma, but that was a Netflix original and received only a token theatrical release, rendering a box office comparison impossible.
Friday, November 19
Premise: Sony Pictures / Columbia releases the fourth cinematic installment of the decades-long Ghostbusters franchise, this one combines new characters played by Paul Rudd and Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard with returning characters from the original installment, including Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman and Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett. Twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for 2007’s Juno and 2009’s Up in the Air, Jason Reitman directs, after his father Ivan Reitman helmed the first two installments back in the 1980s.
Box office comparisons: 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot vacuumed up $128.3M. For another decades-later sequel to a family-friendly 1980s sci-fi movie, Tron: Legacy raced to $172.0M. And another recent ’80s-nostalgia sci-fi title was Steven Spielberg’s 2018 Ready Player One with $137.6M.
Friday, November 19
Premise: Awards prediction website Gold Derby currently has Will Smith has the overwhelming Academy Award for Best Actor favorite for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of future tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, in this Warner Bros. sports biopic.
Box office comparisons: The question is, will this perform more like an “inspirational sports movie with an A-list star,” or like a “tennis” movie? The former category includes 2000’s Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington at $115.7M, 2005’s Coach Carter with Samuel L. Jackson at $96.1M, and 2009’s The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock at $312.6M (a staggering number that nobody expects King Richard to touch).
But those films all centered on the most massive sports in the U.S. like football and basketball. Among films centered on the comparatively less-popular tennis, the box office isn’t anywhere in the same level: think 2017’s Battle of the Sexes with $12.6M, 2004’s Wimbledon with $16.8M, or 2005’s Match Point with $23.0M.
Box office comparisons may also be in exact because Warner Bros. is releasing this title day-and-date simultaneously on HBO Max.
Wednesday, November 24
Premise: Lin-Manuel Miranda of Broadway’s Hamilton fame provides the original songs for this newest Walt Disney Animation Studios animated musical, about an ordinary teenage girl who lives in a large extended family in Colombia where everybody else has magical powers.
Box office comparisons: Disney released five animated musicals in November during the 2010s. Even excluding Frozen II because it’s a sequel, it tentatively seems unlikely that Encanto will match the $200M+ earnings of 2010’s Tangled ($200.8M), 2013’s Frozen ($400.9M), 2016’s Moana ($248.7M), or 2017’s Coco ($210.4M). On the other hand, Encanto seems guaranteed to earn more than this year’s other Lin-Manuel Miranda big-screen musical, June’s In the Heights, with $29.8M. Indeed, Encanto may eclipse that on its opening weekend alone.
House of Gucci
Wednesday, November 24
Premise: Ridley Scott, one of the most acclaimed directors ever, helms this crime drama from United Artists Releasing (UAR) about the 1995 murder of Maurizio Gucci, head of the eponymous luxury fashion house Gucci. All five of the actors on the poster have either won or been nominated for an Academy Award: Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, and Al Pacino.
Box office comparisons: Scott’s October film The Last Duel (also starring Driver) disappointed at the box office, with $9.3M to date, likely to earn somewhere around $12M-$15M total. Scott’s 2017 fellow awards contender crime drama All the Money in the World opened with $5.5M on the Christmas weekend and ultimately earned $25.1M.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Wednesday, November 24
Premise: Despite the sixth installment in the action-horror franchise explicitly being titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, they’re back with a seventh installment. This one, a reboot, does not feature Milla Jovovich who starred in the first six films.
Box office comparisons: The franchise lost steam at the box office with its two most recent entries. The first four installments earned increasing amounts: 2002’s original Resident Evil ($40.1M), 2004’s Apocalypse ($50.7M), 2007’s Extinction ($50.6M) earned just less than its predecessor but essentially the same, then peaking with 2010’s Afterlife ($60.1M). But then 2012’s Retribution made $42.3M while 2017’s The Final Chapter fell even further with $26.8M, the lowest-grossing entry in the series to date. (And that’s without even adjusting for ticket price inflation, which would only increase the gap.)
Friday, November 26
Premise: Paul Thomas Anderson directs this United Artists Releasing (UAR) / MGM coming-of-age dramedy about 1970s California, starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s 18-year-old son Cooper Hoffman in the lead role. Bradley Cooper and Sean Penn fill out the supporting cast.
Box office comparisons: Anderson’s other most recent films include 2017’s Phantom Thread ($21.1M), 2014’s Inherent Vice ($8.1M), and 2012’s The Master ($16.2M).