There’s an avalanche of holiday movies coming your way this season, beginning most prominently this weekend with Breaking Dawn, Part 1, the fourth film in the Twilight franchise. Taking its cure from the holiday shopping season, the holiday movie season is creeping up ever earlier on the calendar. This gives studios room to jockey their films for optimum position. But it also gives Hollywood a head start to make up for a down year at the box office.
Through Nov. 17, box office receits are down 4.4 percent over the same period last year; $8.7 billion to date compared with $9.1 billion at this time in 2010.
Part of this is due to Avatar, which was still going strong in 2010 on its way to becoming the biggest box office hit of all time. That’s a hard act to follow. But much of it, reflects Bruce Nash, founder and president of Nash Information Services, which publishes The Numbers (www.the-numbers.com), is that Hollywood this year did not offer moviegoers much in the way of something new that could excite them.
Six of the year’s Top Ten hits thus far are sequels (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, The Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Hangover 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Fast Five, Cars 2). The only original film among the 10 is Bridesmaids, a raunchy comedy that some called the female equivalent of The Hangover. Original fare such as Super 8 (which was well received critically) and Cowboys vs. Aliens (which was not) failed to engage audiences.
This holiday movie season promises more reboots (The Muppets), remakes (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and sequels (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocal, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked). But this is also the time of year when the studios release films they are positioning for Academy Awards, adult-oriented counter-programming such as The Descendents, We Need to Talk About Kevin, the black and white silent film The Artist, and Albert Nobbs.
But with school out, this is also a time of family films. This season brings the animated Happy Feet Two with an all-star voice cast including Brad Pitt and Robin Williams, Martin Scorsese’s first film in 3-D, Hugo, the British animated Arthur Christmas, and Steven Spielberg’s epic War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin: Chasing the Univorn, which is based on a character internationally beloved, but relatively unknown in this country.
Do you plan to hit the multiplex this holiday season? What movies are you most looking forward to?
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.