29 November 2011

War of the Months: November

Well people, it's the Fourth Tuesday in November, which means the penultimate installment of the War of the Months, NMW's year-long look at the best and brightest flicks to ever premiere in each month of the year. Today we take a gander at November, the Month of Turkeys, Politicians, and Shopping. It's actually a pretty exciting month. It's also generally the month wherein some quality flicks return to the Box Office after the terrible October and September months. Let's take a closer look:

One of the long line of movies where Common's character isn't important...

November: Month of Christmas

It's a weird trend but more and more it seems that November is a month for preparing for Christmas. As Black Friday shopping hours get pushed farther and farther forward so that Thanksgiving Day is now basically a Shopping Day and with the advent of yesterday's Cyber Monday in recent years past, it's all about getting the goodies ready for Santa Day. At the same time it's a time for more and more Christmas movie premieres, which is bizarre and terrible in its own right. There should be no Christmas preparation until after T-Gives. The rest of the month really should be devoted to Thanksgiving Preparation, instead! Thanksgiving is such a wacky holiday. Why do we still celebrate this obscure gathering between Pilgrims and Native Americans? Because Turkey tastes amazing, that's why.

November is also a fairly traditional month. Not a whole lot has changed in the past twenty-five Novembers. 1988 featured broad, big family fare like The Land Before Time and Olivier & Company as well as a Christmas movie, Scrooged, and 1989 featured the franchise installment Back to the Future Part II. 1990 featured Oscar-primed Dances with Wolves, fulfilling the four distinct kinds of November movies: Broad Animation, Christmas Movies, Franchise Installments, and Oscar bait. It's really a month that has something for everyone, and that hasn't changed in decades.

November Box Office: Gaining Returns

November is a pretty decent month at the Box Office, averaging a bit above August and the second highest-non-summer Month of the year behind december. The greatest November on record is 2009, primarily because of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, but also with strong blockbusters like 2012 and A Christmas Carol, but also due to the huge sleeper hit The Blind Side.

It's November, buddy. Bundle up.
Twilight virtually rules November. How...has that come to be? It basically occupied a niche that Harry Potter had held for the past decade - that early holiday, family viewing come-together period of November. Of course, Twilight isn't really family viewing...at all. November works for these big franchises with many quickly released and sometimes simultaneously filmed movies. It's a good seasonal pit-stop before the Summer Months come around again. That is, it allows franchise follow-ups to be released with ideal timing that neither over-saturates the public's appetite nor lets them forget.

That said, seven out of the Top 10 November Releases EVER have been either Twilight or Harry Potter, the top again being New Moon at $142,839,137 back in 2009. Other big films in this month really demonstrate November's status as a Box Office Alternative to Summer. It's a bit cozier month and it's a bit friendlier for Family Releases such as The Incredibles (2004), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008), and Monsters, Inc (2003). There are also a few big Blockbusters like the latest Bond Flicks, where November has become pretty traditional, as well as Charlie's Angels (2000), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), and National Treasure (2004). This trend is actually much older, incorporating films like Alien: Resurrection (1997) and Starship Troopers (1998) as well as the late Arnold films End of Days (1999) and The 6th Day (2000). Finally, November will occasionally see the big Blockbuster release that is trying to get some Oscar notice, because it fits in well with the season. This includes American Gangster (2007) and 8 Mile (2002).

November Quality: That's Super

November tends to be a pretty good month for critically appreciated movies. It's situated well for mainstream films to appeal to a wide number of audiences and gain buzz before the year ends. It's also a good opportunity to films that have done previously well on circuits or small releases to gain momentum through either wider releases or DVD buzz. November's Top 10 is, then, as follows:

#10: Plains, Trains and Automobiles - 11/25/1987
#9: Walk the Line - 11/18/2005
#8: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - 11/30/2007
#7: Toy Story - 11/22/1995
#6: Cape Fear -11/13/1991
#5: They Live - 11/04/1988
#4: No Country for Old Men - 11/07/2007
#3: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -11/19/1975
#2: Raging Bull - 11/14/1980
#1: Network - 11/27/1976

It's a steep list when No Country for Old Men ranks fourth. Raging Bull here was released on this date in 4 theaters and had a wider release a month later, but it felt right here. Other Best Picture Winners that have been released in November include Rocky (1976), Terms of Endearment (1983), Dances with Wolves (1990), The English Patient (1996), Slumdog Millionaire (2008) and The King's Speech (2010). Other prestigious films include Finding Neverland (2004), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Cinderella Man (2005), I'm Not There (2007) and The Road (2009).

Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color
Some of my favourite comedies of all time have also been released here that cannot go without mention. These include Space Jam (1996), Dogma (1999), Out Cold (2001), Just Friends (2005), Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005), Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), Role Models (2008), and of course, The Muppets (2011).

Like I said earlier, November is Christmas Month. It has seen the release of three of my Top 5 Christmas Movies to Watch Instead of Talking to your Family along with the aforementioned Scrooged, Home Alone (1990), The Santa Clause (1994) and Jingle All the Way (1996). Wonderful times.

Finally, other notables include one of the best Rocky Films, Rocky IV (1985) as well as what some consider one of the best films ever made, Babe: Pig in the City (1998). November also launched two huge revivals in the 1990s, the first was Disney Animation through Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992) and the second was James Bond through the excellent GoldenEye (1995).

That's a lot of good movies! So cut open that bird and hit the theater this month - you won't regret it!

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