As holidays go, Thanksgiving is one of Hollywood's top favorites.
That's because over the years, Thanksgiving has evolved from being a day for families and friends to gather, celebrate and overeat to being a time for people to shop till they drop. And over this festive five-day holiday period, catching a movie is now a tradition.
Moviegoing's become the perfect Thanksgiving accompaniment--like cranberry sauce is to turkey. With that in mind, Hollywood's serving a Thanksgiving movie buffet with all the trimmings, but no box office turkeys. As is typically the case these days, there will be something playing for everyone, which means people can see what they want to see. Or, at least, they can compromise on something close enough to what they'd like to see if they didn't have to deal with spouses, children and siblings.
Naturally, Hollywood is starting the holiday weekend early--with four high profile films hitting theaters Wednesday, including two 3D features targeted to families.
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's PG-rated animated 3D family adventure Rise of the Guardians
is from first time feature director Peter Ramsey and stars the voices of Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher. It's tracking best and equally well with under-25 males and females.
, an evil spirit, Pitch, voiced by Jude Law, wants to take over the world. To prevent that, the immortal Guardians must unite for the first time ever to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children everywhere.
Family audiences will also be heading for 20th Century Fox and Fox 2000 Pictures' live action PG-rated 3D adventure Life of Pi
. Directed by Ang Lee, it's based on the best selling book by Yann Martel and stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain. Pi
is tracking best with under-25 females.
Its story revolves around Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper, whose family leaves Pondicherry, India for Canada by hitching a ride on a freighter. When Pi's shipwrecked, he winds up drifting in the Pacific on a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger.
Adult moviegoers with an eye on likely Oscar contenders will be checking out The Weinstein Company and Mirage Enterprises' R-rated awards contender comedy drama Silver Linings Playbook
. After opening last weekend to an encouraging $458,430 at 16 big city theatres, Silver
's widening its run to over 400 theatres for Thanksgiving. It's tracking best and equally well with under-25 females and 25-plus females.
Directed by David O. Russell, a best directing Oscar nominee in 2011 for The Fighter
, it stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. Cooper plays an ex-teacher who's been in a mental hospital and returns home to live with his parents after which he meets Tiffany, Lawrence's mysterious character, who's got her own problems.
won the People's Choice Award last September at the Toronto International Film Festival and has been generating a strong early Oscar buzz. In particular, Lawrence's being talked about as a likely Best Actress nominee. And with the movie in the capable Oscar marketing hands of TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein it has to be regarded as having a solid shot at a Best Picture nom.
Action movie fans are ready for MGM and Contrafilm's PG-13 action adventure Red Dawn
from first time feature director Dan Bradley, who directed second unit filming on The Bourne Legacy
and Mission: Impossible – The Ghost Protocol
Starring are Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas and Josh Hutcherson. It's tracking best with under-25 males and nearly as well with 25-plus males.
's a remake of the PG-13 1984 action adventure of the same name, directed by John Milius and starring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Lea Thompson. The original opened Aug. 10, 1984 to $8.2 million and did $38.4 million in domestic theatres.
In the first film a band of teens fought off a U.S. invasion by Soviet Union troops as World War III dawned. In the remake, the kids are battling an invasion by North Korean forces.
, opening in limited release at 16 major market theatres Friday, Nov. 23, is another potential awards contender awaiting Thanksgiving weekend moviegoers. The PG-13 biographical drama is a Fox Searchlight presentation in association with Cold Spring Pictures of a Montecito Picture Company production and a Barnette/Thayer production.
Directed by Sacha Gervasi, its screenplay by John J. McLaughlin is based on Stephen Rebello's book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of 'Psycho'
. Starring are Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's wife and longtime silent collaborator Alma Reville, and Scarlett Johansson as Psycho star Janet Leigh.
In addition, several big films that opened earlier in November will also be competing over Thanksgiving for moviegoers' time and money.
Teens and young adults who want to hook up for another look at Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate's PG-13 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2
, will have time off from school and work to do so. The blockbuster series' final chapter opened last weekend to about $141.3 million in domestic theatres and to about $199.6 million internationally. Directed by Bill Condon, it stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. The franchise's previous four episodes going back to 2008's Twilight
grossed a total of $1.1 billion in domestic theatres and about $1.4 billion in international theatres. The first half of the two-part conclusion to the series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
, opened Nov. 18, 2011 to $138.1 million and grossed $281.3 million domestically and nearly $424 million internationally.
James Bond returned to Nov. 9 in Skyfall
, the 23rd episode in the Eon Productions franchise and the episode marking the series' 50th anniversary. It's actually Bond #25 if you include the two non-Eon episodes produced in the past.
The PG-13-rated action adventure from MGM, Danjaq and Eon Productions is being released through Sony's Columbia Pictures. Since opening to $88.4 million, it's grossed about $161.3 million in domestic theatres.
Directed by Sam Mendes, it stars Daniel Craig as Bond for the third time. Javier Bardem plays the villain, Silva, a former British agent who now has a serious bone to pick with M. Judi Dench returns as M for the seventh time while Ben Whishaw takes over as Q, the gadgets and gizmos guru who hasn't appeared since 2002's Die Another Day
, when John Cleese played the role. Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe are the new Bond Girls, Eve and Severine.
Another likely Oscar best picture contender in wide release for Thanksgiving is Steven Spielberg's PG-13 biographical drama Lincoln from DreamWorks, Fox, Reliance Pictures and Participant Media and distributed by Walt Disney Studios. After kicking off in limited release against Skyfall Nov. 9, it expanded last weekend with a very encouraging $21 million in domestic theatres.
Daniel Day Lewis stars plays Abraham Lincoln who as the Civil War rages battles with his cabinet members about freeing the slaves.
Spielberg, who won the best directing Oscar in 1994 for Schindler's List and in 1999 for Saving Private Ryan, is a likely best directing nominee for Lincoln
. Day Lewis, who won the best actor Oscar in 1990 for My Left Foot
and in 2008 for There Will Be Blood
, is likely to be a Best Actor nominee.
Although it might seem as though everyone has already seen a blockbuster like the latest Twilight
episode, Hollywood knows there always are people out there who haven't seen it yet. At today's average national ticket price of $7.94, Twilight
's $141.3 million opening gross translates into about 18 million tickets sold. Skyfall
's $161.3 million cume translates into about 20 million tickets sold. Lincoln
's $22.4 million cume translates into just under 3 million tickets sold. Clearly, there are many more people who have now heard about these movies and want to see them when they have time--which for many of them will mean Thanksgiving weekend.
By serving something for everyone, Hollywood has a tasty recipe for Thanksgiving box office success.