Once the calendar moves beyond Labour Day, the landscape at the movie theatre changes as well. Instead of being inundated with popcorn flicks and blockbuster fare, September is a dumping ground for for lesser titles as this month tends to have the lowest theatre attendance each and every year.
As the calendar changes to October through the rest of the calendar year through the holiday season, the theatre becomes split really between two kinds of films. First off we have the start of the Award Season, as films begin to jockey for nominations for major awards like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Secondly, we have a late year blockbuster season, where some films now go in hopes of earning a big box office take for their studios, as evidenced by the fact that the last six November’s have all seen over $1 billion dollars for films released that month.
The first films on tap are going to look at some of the bigger films that will be coming out between now and the end of the year, and the hopes of the studios with those films. The films as always will be listed according to release date.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – September 27
After a summer heavy with family aimed animated fare, it will be interesting to see how ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ will do in late September. The original ‘Cloudy’ opened with a solid $30 million in mid-September of 2009 and anything above and beyond that will be considered a win this year.
A return of most of the voice actors from the first film and a hilarious premise of foodimals trying to escape the setting of the original film, the sequel should be in line to be a hit as well. The one thing that it does need to be wary of is the fatigue that hit families with successive films aimed at them all summer long. If ‘Cloudy 2’ can draw in the family audiences, it seems set to challenge the recently set September opening weekend mark from last year’s ‘Hotel Transylvania’.
Ender’s Game – November 1
October doesn’t have a film that is poised to own the box office combination of big opening with sustained legs, so the next film on tap that could muster that is ‘Ender’s Game’ at the start of November. Based on the book by Orson Scott Card, ‘Ender’s Game’ is the last gasp for Sci-Fi this year from Hollywood, so it will be interesting to see if it can turn around a very so-so year in that genre.
Due the up and down nature of big budget Sci-Fi from Hollywood this year, and the fact that ‘Ender’s Game’ does have a main character that is in his teens and with a downturn this year when it comes to the Young Adult genre, it could be a tough sell for ‘Ender’s Game’, although the Young Adult genre is definitely aimed more at the teenage girl demographic. The one thing that could save this film is the 30 years of young boys reading the book that it is based on, and the fact that it is recommended reading for United States Marines.
Thor: The Dark World – November 8
‘Thor: The Dark World’ is a huge film for Marvel Studios and parent company Disney. On the heels of last year’s ‘The Avengers’ and this summer’s ‘Iron Man 3’, both of which were North American and International box office behemoths, this film will tell wether only Robert Downey Jr. is the sell, or if other characters and actors can pull the trick as well.
2011’s ‘Thor’ finished 10th in the North American box office with $181 million, so Marvel is clearly hoping for an ‘Avengers’ boost to that number, and looking at isolating the film’s Norse Mythology aspects by placing it in November as winter starts to hit may be a key to that. The downfall to that placement comes with the next film on the list and the fact that it is a sequel to the second biggest film of 2012. If ‘Thor: The Dark World’ can overcome that, it could be another huge hit for Disney and Marvel.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – November 22
I don’t think anyone, even the studio and producers, expected last year’s ‘The Hunger Games to become the third biggest film of 2012 and, at that time, just the 14th film to cross the $400 million North American box office line. And to do it as a March release was practically unheard of.
Hit with a quick turnaround due to Jennifer Lawrence’s participation in one of 2014’s most anticipated blockbusters, ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ will be looking to work off of the massive success of the first film, but that could be hard to live up to in a jam-packed mid-November to mid-December season. This will be a big test for Lawrence’s ability to draw in the Young Adult crowd.
Frozen – November 27
Disney has had some success with November releases of animated features in the last few years, including last year’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and 2011’s ‘Tangled’. More of the same is expected from this year’s ‘Frozen’, featuring a wintery tale with supporting characters like a talking snowman and a pet reindeer.
A lot of Disney’s recent animated success has come as a result of not taking the films too seriously, and the comedic tones of ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ will need to continue if ‘Frozen is going to be able to stand out in a year with a lot of family animated features. Coming out almost two months after ‘Cloudy 2’ should allow ‘Frozen to have a strong run at theatres, as long as it is a good film.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13
The first entry into the return to Middle Earth, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ met with lukewarm praise from critics and less than stellar word of mouth, yet still managed to go above $300 million in North America and over $1 billion worldwide. As a result of the word of mouth situation, there is a possibly that the second entry in what is now a trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ could finish under those numbers.
That being said, for fans of the book and fans of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and books, the second instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ will give us our first look at the much teased design of the dragon Smaug, and being voiced by current mega-star Benedict Cumberbatch will help with the marketing.
Filmed in 48fps, one of the biggest knocks against ‘An Unexpected Journey’ was that at times it looked too fake, a result of the human eye not being used to the format it was shot in. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ follows suit and getting over this hurdle will be critical for the success of this middle chapter.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – December 20
I don’t know if there has ever been a more anticipated sequel to comedy ever, in the history of film. The original ‘Anchorman’ was a modest hit in 2004 but has grown immensely in popularity since then, which will be a massive boon to the sequel and its chances at the box office.
While December is not know as a time of year for a comedy of this nature, ‘Anchorman 2’ will be used as counter-programming against the slate of Oscar-bait films that will be released around the same time period, so expectations will be high that the sequel will be able to pull in ‘The Hangover’ type numbers.
Jack Ryan – December 25
Quite possibly the biggest unknown of all the films on this list, ‘Jack Ryan’ has no official trailer released yet, despite being scheduled for theatres just over three months from now. The title of the film is also rumoured to be changing, with a couple of prospective changes rumoured for almost a month now.
Should this film still see its Christmas Day release date, it would be the fifth film to feature the main character from a number of Tom Clancy espionage and world politics books, but as a reboot to feature a younger John Patrick Ryan with reboot expert Chris Pine in the title role. An attempt by Paramount to get a second franchise rolling with a younger case, ‘Jack Ryan’ sadly is not based on any of the pre-existing books, which could make things unnecessarily cumbersome. That being said, if done correctly, this could be a surprise hit for late 2013.
In the end, various companies such as Sony, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. are hoping to bolster their revenues late in the year with films such as these, and in a counter programming role, many of these films should have long profitable runs in theatres.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.