November 2015 Box Office Recap: String of Underperformers Dampen Prospects of Record Year

I missed out on the October 2015 recap, but here’s a summary- it was horrible. Yes, it was the second biggest October ever, if you don’t account for inflation, just 5.8% behind 2014’s record setting $758 million (2015 brought in $714.2 million at the turnstiles), but in terms of brand new film releases, the 73 movies that opened over the course of the one month duration (according to Box Office Mojo) only brought in a collective $563 million. That’s a 35.9% drop from 2014’s $878.7 million (record setter), and without inflation, the previous year one can remember that failed to earn that alarmingly low figure would be (still searching… found it!!) 2007, where the 66 new films in circulation brought in a combined $529 million. In other words, since 2002 (every year prior to that lost to 2015’s figures, but hey, that was a really different time at the box office, without the blockbusters and all), there has only been one year- 2007- that failed to meet that eye-poppingly low benchmark.

So, is November any better? I mean, not compared to October, since its a ‘duhhh’ that November would naturally be bigger, with blockbusters like Hunger Games, James Bond, Pixar (Pixar’s a blockbuster by itself, shush), Rocky and Snoopy infiltrating the theaters. I can’t really comment about how much the wide releases are on track to earn just yet, after their theatrical runs, since Good Dinosaur and Creed have barely started their 3-week domination (before Star Wars), and Hunger Games is still in the run for first for two more weeks, before going RIP to Star Wars. However, October would naturally help tame 2015’s November down (see how October came in?), due to lackluster non-Martian films, and hence, yeah, theaters are feeling the ripple effect- in terms of calendar grosses, over the course of November, theaters brought in a combined $888.9 million, when accounting for holdovers and everything. That’s an 8.0% drop from 2014’s $966.4 million, which was already a 9.8% dip from 2013’s $1071 million, which was already a 1.8% dip from 2012’s $1091 million. That’s a downright shame, since one can argue that Hunger Games: Final Chapter AKA other YA’s biggest moneymaker and 007 and Pixar are far more enticing offerings, as compared to Hunger Games: One Chapter before the Final, Interstellar and Big Hero 6.

spectre

Many will probably start blaming the fall of theatrical entertainment for this, one which we did quite a lot last year, just because 2014 was a quieter year after a bunch of ‘screechingly loud’ years at the box office. After analyzing it a bit, you can probably identify the reasons- a weaker slate of October holdovers, as well as a variety of reasons for new November openers which I will kinda explain in detail at the bottom. Or maybe its just theater fatigue after what has been an intense first half which saw three films- Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7 and Jurassic World, become the 6th biggest, 5th biggest and 3rd biggest film of all time worldwide, while Minions was shamelessly chugging away at kids and families, earning over $1.1 billion. Yeah, 4 $1 billion movies so far, with Star Wars and potentially Spectre still to come. In comparison, last year had only one- Transformers, 2013 had two- Iron Man and Frozen, 2012 had 4- Avengers, Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit, but the latter 3 barely earned around the ballpark of $1.0-$1.1 billion (whereas we see an average of $1.5-1.67 billion this year, with Star Wars all but set to dash pass the $2 billion mark, or fear attaining disappointment status). Okay, maybe Star Wars is yet another reason, since many are probably saving up for the one and only film that’s probably inhabiting everyone’s mind.

Year to date (till November 30), its really sad to see that we’re currently lagging behind 2013 and 2012’s $9874.8 million and $9877.3 million respective figures, especially since we were previously commanding leads of up to 10% as compared to those years. We are currently at $9817 million, which is 0.6% behind 2012 and 2013, and only 3.8% ahead of 2014’s $9456.4 million, which isn’t worthy of comparison. I’m seriously hoping (for the sake of the health of the box office and theatrical business), that Star Wars opens really big and holds up really well in December, since its 2 week domination can help to even out this year with past years, while also potentially breaking past the $11 billion domestic barrier that has never been hit.

peanuts movie

Enough with the general talk, since we’re already 700 words in and I don’t want to scare you off with my incessant blabbering. Let’s go in depth and study some of the reasons why November didn’t break out as much as many hoped for, while also acknowledging the various success stories:

First up in November is Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2, which was already kinda expected. However, that doesn’t really mean much, since it was down 11.9% over the same period of time compared to Mockingjay Part 1, which was already itself a 22.8% decline from Catching Fire. Mockingjay Part 2 only earned $201.1 million over the 11 days it had in theaters during the calendar month of November, down from Mockingjay Part 1’s $228.3 million. One can blame it on a couple of reasons- first up, the latter two films in the quadrilogy/tetralogy weren’t as well received as the former two, mainly due to the decision to break up the final book into two, akin to what Harry Potter and Twilight did prior to that. That turned out to be a horrible move (as my review will talk about really soon, when I get about writing it), but one really can’t blame the cast and crew whom were passionately trying to bring out the best of the books. Second reason can be blamed on the fact that the last two films aren’t as audience friendly as the first two- the last film, especially, requires fans or people who have actually watched the prior films, since contextual information is necessary for the basic sake of understanding the film. That really sucks, since that pretty means that there can only be cases of fans jumping ship, without any replacements at hand. Third problem can mainly be attributed to the shift in storyline- blame the books for it, but the latter two films didn’t really have the Hunger Games arena in play, which was pretty much why some people even bothered turning up at theaters in the first place for parts one and two. All these, combined with Spectre’s presence and Star Wars fever in the horizon, really sucked out huge bits of life from Mockingjay Part 2. Such a shame, considering Young Adult film series usually make their biggest chunks of revenue in their final installments. Seriously, I feel real sad that The Hunger Games, which was previously crowned domestic champion of 2013 and second in 2014, has now been relegated out of the top 5. Such a shame.

That was a real drag. Anyways, second for the month goes to Spectre, which has earned $176.8 million to date. Once again, as compared to its prior installment ‘Skyfall’, Spectre suffered a 28.3% dip, only bringing in $176.8 million over the course of 25 days. Yes, still bigger than Mission: Impossible, but not a cause to celebrate. Spectre’s downfall was predictable- Skyfall had the honor of celebrating its 50th anniversary during its year of release, and was one of the best Bond movies to date with an iconic villain at its helm. Spectre, meanwhile, was one of the more divisive James Bond films to date, only attracting a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which in other words, is even lower than Quantum Solace’s 65%. Nonetheless, that’s an improvement over an prior Bond film to date save Skyfall, and this film is easily set to cruise past the $200 million mark in no time.

The Peanuts Movie took third for the month, with $117.1 million since opening at the start of the month. The animated film market at that moment happened to be undersaturated, with Hotel Transylvania 2 and Goosebumps pretty much already fading into hindsight by then. Its a triumph for Fox and Blue Sky Studios, serving as fantastic counter-programming against Spectre. Nostalgia definitely helps too, especially for those Charlie Brown and Snoopy fans out there.

good dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur earned $56.8 million, after only 6 days in release. The Peanuts Movie might have hurt it, but dinosaur craze sticking around after Jurassic World’s worldwide domination certainly wasn’t as much as I had thought. During its 3-day weekend proper, it only earned $39.2 million, which by a long mile happens to be Pixar’s smallest opening in a long time. That comes after Inside Out became the studio’s second biggest grosser of all time domestically, with $356.4 million in receipts. This film, sadly, might have problems passing the $200 million mark domestically when all is said and done, but here’s hoping for the best, especially after production woes have plagued this film for years.

Creed was fifth, with $44.044 million. Also opening over the Thanksgiving frame, Creed, amidst fantastic reviews, managed to over perform. At the moment, Creed looks set to blast past the $100 million mark, but whether its gets to scale the heights of the fourth Rocky film without accounting for inflation (with $127.87 million) remains to be seen. However, it seems like Rocky IV will stay as the champion when ticket price inflation has been accounted for.

creed

The rest of the top 10 can be glimpsed in the table below, alongside comparisons with last year’s top 10. Meanwhile, this same month last year, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 earned $225.7 million, which as explained above, was already termed a let-down. Big Hero 6 and Interstellar dominated in second and third respectively, with $167.2 million and $147 million. Without any more blabbering, here’s the top 10 of the month, based on their respective calendar grosses over the 30 day period:

(Non-holdovers/films which opened in the month of November will be bolded)

Rank Film (2015) Gross Film (2014) Gross
1 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 $201,091,347 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 $225,680,904
2 Spectre $176,837,257 Big Hero 6 $167,219,558
3 The Peanuts Movie $117,124,540 Interstellar $147,035,482
4 The Good Dinosaur $56,818,937 Dumb and Dumber To $72,237,610
5 Creed $44,044,832 Penguins of Madagascar $35,438,847
6 The Martian $39,254,194 Gone Girl $31,145,680
7 The Night Before $24,921,080 Fury $28,617,162
8 Goosebumps $24,450,859 St. Vincent $25,799,755
9 Bridge of Spies $24,446,827 Nightcrawler $25,477,308
10 Love the Coopers $20,627,088 Ouija $22,827,795

Here’s the overall gross managed by all the films collectively, in the month of November, versus 2014:

2015 Accumulative Gross 2014 Accumulative Gross Change
$888,853,250 $966,369,916 -8.0%
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