Steve’s Box Office Report: November 2008
Top 10 Films for the Month of November:
- Twilight – $192,769,854
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – $180,010,950
- Quantum of Solace – $168,368,427
- Four Christmases – $120,146,040
- Bolt – $114,053,579
- Role Models – $67,294,270
- Australia – $49,554,002
- Transporter 3 – $31,715,062
- Soul Men – $12,082,391
- The Polar Express (IMAX Re-Release) – $1,705,694
November Winners: Twilight, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Four Christmases, and Role Models
So as we head into the penultimate month of the year 2008, it has been clear that the fall has been on a solid level coming off a pretty hot summer and this fall was so much more successful than the previous fall. So unlike 2007 where November was seen as trying to salvage what had become of the fall, this year is in a lot better shape and given the films that were set to come out this month it looked like this could be a pretty successful November. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the fantasy romance film Twilight, based on the first novel in the series of a vampire who falls in love with a mortal girl and looks to protect her from an evil coven. While the idea of vampires and romance mixing together was a pretty risky venture and the reviews for the film were mixed to negative, but it came out at the right time with Harry Potter nearing the end of its run and it would find a big audience to make near $200 million while kicking off the next big YA franchise. The second film from this month that makes it into this category is the animated film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the second in the Madagascar franchise where Alex and his friends are stranded in Africa and try to survive while looking for Alex’s parents. I had mentioned back in June that Dreamworks was struggling to create new franchises aside from Shrek and while Kung Fu Panda exceed expectations, the fact that a new Madagascar was coming out was a good sign for this potential franchise. Sure enough, the film would having a solid run and was the highest grossing animated film of the month despite the mixed reviews and competition from THREE different Disney films which would more than likely ensure a third film. The third film from this month that makes it into this category is the comedy film Four Christmases, a film about a couple who are forced to visit their divorced parents while coming to grips with their own relationship. Despite the negative reviews from critics, the film did benefit from coming out over Thanksgiving weekend and with a dearth of comedy films out at the time, it would go on to have a decent run by finishing with just over $120 million which was head and shoulders better than Vince Vaughn’s outing last year. The fourth and final film released this month that makes it into this category is the comedy film Role Models, a film about two salesmen who have to help pair kids with adult role models to fulfill their community service. Unlike Four Christmases, the film would end up receiving positive reviews from critics though it would end up falling off fairly quickly by the end of the month and would be lapped by Four Christmases pretty easily. While there ended up being the same amount of winners this November as there were last November, I think it’s safe to say that these films were slightly more successful than the ones from last year and this November ended up finishing on a higher note than last November.
November Losers: Quantum of Solace, Bolt, Australia, and Soul Men
So much like the winners category having the same amount of films back-to-back years, the same thing happens here as we have same number of losers this month as we did last November. Even though this November produced 6 films that made over $100 million as compared to last November, the losers from this month might be even worse than last November because of that fact. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is the spy film Quantum of Solace, the newest James Bond film which sees 007 try to avenge his lover’s death while uncovering a conspiracy by a businessman to stage a coup in Bolivia to control the water supply. This was the second film to feature Daniel Craig as James Bond following 2006’s Casino Royale which ended up being the underachiever of that month, and though Quantum finished slightly ahead of Casino Royale it still ended up being underwhelming partially due to the mixed reviews and now the question was if the next potential film could turn things around for the franchise. The second film from this month that makes it into this category is the animated film Bolt, a film about a dog who plays a superhero on TV for so long that he believes he is a superhero and he tries to save his human who he believes has been kidnapped. While this was considered a step up from previous Disney films released this decade and also received better reviews than Madagascar, it still underperformed despite coming out on the weekend before Thanksgiving and was yet another disappointment for Disney in terms of their animated films. The third film from this month that makes it into this category is the romantic drama film Australia, a film about a couple who try to make a living during certain historical events in Australia prior to World War II. Coming out during Thanksgiving weekend alongside Four Christmases, it was seen as potential counterprogramming to several of the big films though the combination of middling reviews and failure to find an audience caused to fall off fairly quickly and it would be one of the bigger losers of the year. The fourth and final film released this month that makes it into this category is the musical comedy film Soul Men, a film about two backup soul singers who had a falling out and end up coming together for a reunion concert. Coming out at the beginning of the month, it would end up being crushed under the weight of Madagascar and in addition to the mixed reviews, it would fail to find an audience and would pretty much taper off by the end of the month. This was an interesting month in that two of the films in this category finished with over $100 million while the other two finished with under $50 million, but it just goes to show that even making over $100 million is not always a guarantee that you will be a winner as you could end up being a loser as well.
The Surprise/Story of November 2008: Twilight sparkles its way to the top of November 2008
So coming into the month of November, there was a lot of question as to which film would end up finishing at the top of the month and which would make best use of the Thanksgiving weekend. Of the big films released during the month, there were two animated films that both did fairly well and a movie with a holiday tie-in that also did well, and we also had the newest James Bond film which did decent though it did end up being a loser of the month. However, there was a lot of question as to how Twilight would do given that the idea of vampires and romance being brought together seemed like such a risky venture. While the novels were very popular amongst the young adult community, it was clearly garnered more towards teenage girls as opposed to Harry Potter which was marketed towards a broader audience in general. But with the Harry Potter series nearing its end in terms of being on the big screen, it was clear that Twilight was in a prime spot to fill the void and it ended up delivering in spades as it would finish at the top of the month with almost $200 million and being one of the better success stories of the year.
Overachiever of November 2008: Twilight
As I had mentioned in the previous category, there was a lot of question has to how Twilight was going to play out and if it can draw in a mainstream audience along with its core young adult audience. The film would end up receiving mixed reviews from critics who believed that it would satisfy the core audience, but would not be able to branch out beyond that and thus it wouldn’t be that successful. But for whatever reason, the film managed to resonate with a bigger audience and became the highest grossing vampire movie of all time which is quite remarkable since it was billed more as a romance film as opposed to a vampire film. It would go on to have a solid run through Thanksgiving and into December which would lead to it finishing with just under $200 million, and while it does rank below all of the Harry Potter films this was a significant win and pretty much guaranteed that the franchise would continue on with the remaining 3 books in the series being adapted into films as well. It will be interesting to see if the series can build on this momentum and if it becomes the new norm for November with Harry Potter moving to the summer, but I guess that we will see what happens over the next few years.
Underachiever of November 2008: Bolt
As I had mentioned back in March of 2007, the 2000s were not very kind to Disney in terms of their animated films as they were far removed from the glory days of the 90s and the Disney Renaissance. The majority of their films have not done particularly well with Meet the Robinsons being their most recent flop, but in a bit of a twist their live action films have had better luck with Enchanted doing well a year ago and their double shot of High School Musical and Beverly Hills Chihuahua doing well the previous month. So Disney did have momentum going into this month with the release of Bolt which had receive positive reviews from critics, so it appeared that this would be the one to finally turn the tide for the animated side of Disney. However, that did not end up happening as it would debut well behind Twilight in its opening weekend and while it did have a solid Thanksgiving weekend, it would slowly tail off throughout December and faded into obscurity. At the end of the month, it would end up finishing in the top 5 of the month though it was well behind what Madagascar made, and as a result Bold ends up not only being one of the losers of the month, but it also ends up being the underachiever of the month and yet another loss for Disney. Do not fret for Disney though as this was a step in the right direction for them and they seemed to be on the brink of a turnaround, but we will see how long it would be before the page turns for them.
November 2008 Awards Watch: Bolt and Australia
So in the short time that I’ve been doing these recaps, I have mentioned constantly that this was the timeframe when the majority of films being considered for the big three awards usually come out. The last two years has seen the month of November have numerous films included in this category, but in a bit of a weird change this year there are surprisingly only two films that make it into this category. It’s interesting in that this month did have some successful films on top though considering that most of them had mixed reviews with none swaying one particular way, and it was a bit disappointing to see this month have so few films make it into this category. The first film that makes it into this category is Bolt which wasn’t surprising given how positive the reviews were for it, and it would be nominated for one Academy Award (Best Animated Film) which it wouldn’t win and it was also nominated for one Golden Globe Award (Best Animated Film) which it wouldn’t win simply because WALL-E and Pixar were on a higher ground to Disney at this point. The only other film from this month that makes it into this category is Australia which is a bit surprising given the mixed reviews it receive, but it would receive one Academy Award nomination (Best Costume Design) which it wouldn’t win. Again, it is a bit disappointing to see this month have so few films make it into this category and it makes you wonder if this month would not see many award contenders be released going forward throughout the years.
Overall Thoughts of November 2008:
So overall, the month of November of 2008 ended up being a pretty successful month and was a clear step up from the previous year. Unlike the previous year which saw some tepid films come out and nothing really standing out, this year November had a few films stand out particularly at the top of the list with films like Twilight and Madagascar. We did have five films from this month that made over $100 million which was pretty big for November, but at the same time the bottom half of the list was not that good as they are crushed under the weight of the top 5 films of the month. 2008 has been a very interesting year in that it started pretty poorly, peaked during the summer, and tailed off a bit throughout the fall though it was still above what 2007 was at a year ago by a considerable margin. As for the month of November of 2008, it ended up being one of the better months of the year and we will see if the year ends on a high note.
Final Grade: B+