Long Range Forecast: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,’ ‘Arrival,’ ‘Almost Christmas’ & ‘Shut In’

November 11 will see four new wide releases. Sony/TriStar debuts their war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and could collect several Oscar nominations along the way. Paramount’s new science-fiction flick Arrival “arrives.” The Yuletide movie season begins in earnest with Universal’s comedy Almost Christmas. And EuropaCorp opens their thriller Shut In.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Sony/TriStar)

PROS:

  • The story of a military veteran being honored at a sold-out football game’s halftime, interspersed with flashbacks to his harrowing military service, hits what are arguably Americans’ two favorite themes — football and the military — with the range of emotions from inspiring to scary to tragic. Seems like it could potentially be one of the films of this season with the most cross-demographic appeal.
  • This could land several Oscar nominations, with Gold Derby, a website used to predict award nominations and winners, currently listing it as one of the top three most likely contenders for Best Picture, Ang Lee for Best Director, Kristen Stewart for Best Supporting Actress, and Steve Martin (of all people) for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Ang Lee is one of the few directors, along with Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, who excels at directing films that earn great money and are top awards contenders — often mutually exclusive categories. See Life of PiBrokeback Mountain, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for previous examples of Lee achieving the balancing act.

CONS:

  • Not enough social media buzz yet for this to indicate a hugely anticipated film. It might be more of a long-term player than a big opener.
  • Could face competition on the military front from Hacksaw Ridge, opening the weekend before. If that film ends up being a breakout, it could significantly cut into the box office here. (Of course, vice versa is also true.)

Arrival (Paramount)

PROS:

  • The sci-fi drama about aliens coming to earth features an impressive ensemble cast of Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. All three know a thing or two about high-grossing ensemble films: their other 2016 ensemble films include Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice for Adams, Captain America: Civil War for Renner, and the already-sure-to-be-a-blockbuster Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for Whitaker in December.
  • The trailer has been building huge buzz, with the “What is this movie really about?” vagueness that has proven such effective marketing this decade for everything from Inception to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • This is projected to maybe be an awards contender as well. If it does, that would be a big rarity for the sci-fi averse Academy to embrace such a movie, with them not having done so since District 9 in 2009, and could build an audience among older demographics.

CONS:

  • Director Denis Villeneuve has only helmed dark dramas, never a sci-fi aiming for a larger audience. His Sicario earned $46.8 million last year and his Prisoners made $61.0 million in 2013 — decent sums, but ones that may be considered disappointments for Arrival.
  • Although alien or alien-invasion films are often held up by cynics as Exhibit A for the kind of movie Hollywood produces too many of purely in the name of profit, the genre has not always uniformly had success over the past few years. Recent examples include this year’s The Fifth Wave with $34.9 million, Earth to Echo with $38.9 million, Ender’s Game with $61.7 million, and arguably even Independence Day: Resurgence which did top $100 million but was still largely considered a disappointment given its high expectations and the huge success of its predecessor.

Almost Christmas (Universal)

PROS:

  • This holiday movie with a largely African-American movie has been posting better-than-expected activity on Facebook, and is serving a largely underserved audience.
  • Fellow “black Christmas” movies in the past few years have included Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas which earned $52.5 million and The Best Man Holiday which made $70.5 million. To be fair, those two films also had the added advantages of an at-the-time-still-hot Madea series and a sequel factor as a follow-up to The Best Man, neither of which this movie has.

CONS:

  • This may be released too early, opening on November 11 and almost certain to be out of theaters by December 25 itself.
  • May face solid competition from fellow Christmas-themed comedies Bad Santa 2 and Office Christmas Party.

Shut In (EuropaCorp)

PROS:

  • The thriller is about a widowed woman played by Naomi Watts caring for her paralyzed son during a blizzard, when she starts to suspect that somebody unwanted is inside their house. That kind of horror/thriller plot of “unwanted guests” has done surprisingly well with several films this year, like Don’t Breathe.

CONS:

  • The distributor is the relatively new EuropaCorp, which has yet to achieve a breakout hit. Their two other wide releases to date have been Nine Lives which earned about $19.1 million and The Transporter Refueled with $16.0 million. Don’t expect this to do much better, and it may even do worse.
  • The film was originally scheduled for release in February, then pushed back to June, then against to September, then again to November. Hardly a great sign of studio confidence in the film.
  • The film’s title Shut In seems to be literally telling audiences to stay home instead of going out to see this movie!

Check out the official Boxoffice Pro long range forecast predictions in the table below.

Title Release Date Distributor Opening Weekend Cumulative
Almost Christmas Nov 11, 2016 Universal $16,500,000 $46,000,000
Arrival Nov 11, 2016 Paramount $27,000,000 $95,000,000
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Nov 11, 2016 Sony / TriStar $22,000,000 $103,000,000
Shut In Nov 11, 2016 EuropaCorp $5,500,000 $13,000,000
Doctor Strange Nov 4, 2016 Disney $88,000,000 $255,000,000
Trolls Nov 4, 2016 Fox / Dreamworks $28,000,000 $92,000,000
Hacksaw Ridge Nov 4, 2016 Lionsgate $11,000,000 $37,000,000
Inferno Oct 28, 2016 Sony $36,000,000 $100,000,000
Rings Oct 28, 2016 Paramount $16,000,000 $34,000,000
Ouija: Origin of Evil Oct 21, 2016 Universal $12,000,000 $29,000,000
Keeping Up with the Joneses Oct 21, 2016 Fox $11,000,000 $32,000,000
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Oct 21, 2016 Paramount $22,000,000 $62,000,000
I’m Not Ashamed Oct 21, 2016 Pure Flix $4,500,000 $17,000,000
Boo! A Madea Halloween Oct 21, 2016 Lionsgate $10,000,000 $26,000,000
The Accountant Oct 14, 2016 Warner Bros. $17,000,000 $60,000,000
Kevin Hart: What Now? Oct 14, 2016 Universal $11,500,000 $25,000,000
Max Steel Oct 14, 2016 Open Road Films $7,000,000 $24,000,000
The Girl on the Train Oct 7, 2016 Universal $24,000,000 $80,000,000
The Birth of a Nation Oct 7, 2016 Fox Searchlight $19,000,000 $78,000,000
Friend Request Oct 7, 2016 Freestyle Releasing $3,500,000 $8,000,000
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Oct 7, 2016 Lionsgate $5,500,000 $16,500,000
Deepwater Horizon Sep 30, 2016 Lionsgate $24,000,000 $80,000,000
Masterminds Sep 30, 2016 Relativity Media $10,000,000 $26,000,000
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Sep 30, 2016 Fox $29,000,000 $95,000,000
The Magnificent Seven Sep 23, 2016 Sony $49,000,000 $150,000,000
Storks Sep 23, 2016 Warner Bros. $33,000,000 $113,000,000
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