Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of the biggest box office weekends of the year, and 2016 is looking to be no exception. Disney surfs with their latest Hawaiian-themed animated musical Moana, Paramount releases their war drama Allied and hopes to ride the latest gossip that it may have contributed to the divorce of Brad Pitt, Broad Green Pictures joins this year’s trend of R-rated comedy sequels with Bad Santa 2, and Fox tries to break the rules with Rules Don’t Apply.
(Note: all four of the below films premiere on Wednesday, November 23, but our predictions reflect the traditional Friday-Sunday three day weekend, in this case November 25-27.)
- Disney is coming off Frozen, their top-grossing animated musical since their early 1990s heyday with Aladdin and The Lion King. With Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame composing the songs for this new installment, if this soundtrack gets played on repeat in every home in America with young children as Frozen did, Moana could potentially even approach that film’s $400 million box office.
- On the inflation-adjusted top Thanksgiving opening weekends of all time, Disney has posted seven of the top eight. That’s an incredible run for one studio dominating a weekend, perhaps unparalleled for any other combination of distributor and weekend. Their Thanksgiving hits including such classics as Frozen, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, the 101 Dalmatians live-action remake, Tangled, and Flubber.
- Voicing one of the two lead characters is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is on one of the hottest box-office streaks in the past three years for any Hollywood star, with all three of his most recent films grossing at least $125 million: Central Intelligence, San Andreas, and Furious 7. Meanwhile, unknown 15-year-old Auli’i Cravalho has already garnered attention for her voice casting as the title character — a notable change from Disney’s usual tactic of hiring famous singers (Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Mandy Moore) for their animated female leaders.
- If the original music and songs turn out to be underwhelming, this could end up more like Disney’s 2009 animated musical The Princess and the Frog, which earned a middling $104.4 million following a general audience reaction that the music was fine but nothing special.
- Let’s start with the elephant in the room first. Obviously a divorce is a terrible thing and shouldn’t be celebrated, but in this case the recent Brad Pitt – Angelina Jolie divorce may be a positive for Paramount’s box office. Rumors abound that Pitt may have had an extramarital affair with costar Marion Cotillard, although Cotillard recently took to Instagram to deny the rumors. Still, audiences may want to see if the on-screen chemistry between the two is “real,” much as they did in 2005 for the then-rumored couple of Pitt and Jolie.
- Similarly, Pitt has not appeared in public or spoken publicly since releasing a brief statement on the day the divorce was announced. But he can’t avoid publicity interviews in the run-up to this film. As a result, much more attention will be paid to his appearances on talk shows and elsewhere than for the typical celebrity interview, especially if he talks about his divorce, which could in turn feed further publicity for the film.
- Now onto the pros for the actual film itself. The tale of two spies who fall for each other during World War II could appeal to everyone from teenagers to adults. Cotillard is an Oscar winner, Pitt is a three-time Oscar nominee, and director Robert Zemeckis is an Oscar winner for directing. The talent is certainly there for a great film and a possible awards contender.
- The film comes out three weeks after fellow World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge. Current box office projections are fairly average for that movie, but if it unexpectedly proves to be a huge success, that could hurt Allied. The combination of romance and survival story is also similar to Passengers, which comes out a few weeks later.
- Allied in some ways seems similar to The Tourist: with the romantic angle, holiday release, and star power — in that case also featuring one half of the Jolie-Pitt couple alongside Johnny Depp. But after weak reviews, that film only grossed $67.6 million in 2010 (and arguably started Depp’s downward slide this decade in both critical reviews and box office). Could something similar happen here?
Bad Santa 2 (Broad Green Pictures)
- The original film was a surprise sleeper hit in 2003, earning $60.0 million or about $85.6 million adjusted for ticket price inflation.
- Noteworthy, the original also had a cumulative-to-opening multiple of 4.8 to 1, which is very high for a wide release and indicated positive word of mouth as time went along. So even if the sequel opens low — perhaps fourth place after Moana, Allied, and the holdover Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — it may still hold on solidly at the box office in weeks to come.
- An old man swearing and misbehaving badly could potentially get elected in November — perhaps it could be a winning box office formula this November too.
- This year, by some measures, sets the record for most sequels released. While some were definitely follow-ups that were eagerly anticipated by audiences like Finding Dory, this may be one of the year’s preeminent examples of “sequels that nobody asked for.”
- While several R-rated comedies have been box office hits in the past few years — like the Hangover series, Trainwreck, Bridesmaids, and The Heat — R-rated sequels haven’t faired as well. For example, The Hangover Part III, Zoolander 2, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising all came in below expectations.
- The title character is played by Billy Bob Thornton, who arguably hasn’t had a live-action box office hit since Eagle Eye in 2008 — and even in that film, he played a supporting role. A comparison could be made to the recent Bridget Jones’s Diary starring Renee Zellweger, which earned by far the lowest in the trilogy after Zellweger hadn’t been in a wide-release film since 2010.
Rules Don’t Apply (Fox)
- The romantic drama about an actress and her driver in the 1950s could appeal to an adult demographic as counterprogramming.
- The movie marks the long-awaited return of the legendary Warren Beatty, in his first directed film since 1998’s Bulworth and his first film at all since acting in 2001’s Town & Country.
- The “adult drama set in the mid-20th century” is also a description of Allied, which comes out the same weekend and should likely beat it at the box office by stealing away much of this film’s potential audience.
- Buzz has been relatively muted. Most dramas released in November or December are angling for awards contention, but so far this one is barely factoring on the list of possible awards contenders.
Check out the Boxoffice Pro official long range forecast predictions in the table below.
|Title||Release Date||Distributor||Opening Weekend||Cumulative|
|Moana||Nov 23, 2016||Disney||$65,000,000||$285,000,000|
|Allied||Nov 23, 2016||Paramount||$14,000,000||$68,000,000|
|Bad Santa 2||Nov 23, 2016||Broad Green Pictures||$10,000,000||$34,000,000|
|Rules Don’t Apply||Nov 23, 2016||Fox||$5,000,000||$19,000,000|
|Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them||Nov 18, 2016||Warner Bros.||$78,000,000||$210,000,000|
|The Edge of Seventeen||Nov 18, 2016||STX Entertainment||$13,000,000||$58,000,000|
|Friend Request||Nov 18, 2016||Freestyle Releasing||$2,500,000||$5,000,000|
|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|
|Almost Christmas||Nov 11, 2016||Universal||$16,500,000||$46,000,000|
|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|
|Jack Reacher: Never Go Back||Oct 21, 2016||Paramount||$22,000,000||$62,000,000|
|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|
|Boo! A Madea Halloween||Oct 21, 2016||Lionsgate||$10,000,000||$26,000,000|
|I’m Not Ashamed||Oct 21, 2016||Pure Flix||$4,500,000||$17,000,000|
|The Accountant||Oct 14, 2016||Warner Bros.||$17,000,000||$60,000,000|
|Kevin Hart: What Now?||Oct 14, 2016||Universal||$13,500,000||$31,000,000|
|Max Steel||Oct 14, 2016||Open Road Films||$4,500,000||$10,000,000|
|The Girl on the Train||Oct 7, 2016||Universal||$24,000,000||$82,000,000|
|The Birth of a Nation||Oct 7, 2016||Fox Searchlight||$10,000,000||$34,000,000|
|Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life||Oct 7, 2016||Lionsgate||$5,500,000||$15,000,000|