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Box Office Odds: Battle of the Holiday Flicks

It’s officially the holiday season and with that comes eggnog, awkward family gatherings, and — most importantly — holiday films!

When measuring holiday box-office supremacy, the “holiday season” starts on the first Friday in November and ends on New Year’s weekend. In other words, right now! So forget about Academy Awards and critical acclaim, it’s time for easy-going, light-hearted holiday flicks.

Whatever you thought of it, the 2015 holiday season was an uncontested win for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which raked in a whopping $937 million. Those numbers definitely won’t be reached this year, that’s for sure.

In fact, the 2016 holiday flicks might not even be able to rival The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, which raked in $282 million over the holidays last year.

As it stands, Doctor Strange, the new Marvel superhero movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch, leads with $182 Million. But hot on its tail is Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the Harry Potter spin-off that just opened on November 18 and has already pulled in $74 million.

Also doing well is Fox Studio’s Trolls, which opened on the same day as Doctor Strange. The kid-friendly offering has grossed a little under $116 million. Still, there is a chance for those numbers to improve during winter break when the littl’uns are off from school. 

Further down the list is the sci-fi flick Arrival, which is based on the short story, “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. The film has been well received by critics, but has failed to make the impact it was hoping for at the box-office. So far, Paramount Studios is just looking to break even with $43 million.

Making similar numbers is Mel Gibson’s World War II offering Hacksaw Ridge, which suffered from a lackluster opening week but has since made up ground.

If we’re going to narrow the field, it really comes down to two films — Fantastic Beasts and Doctor Strange. Both are examples of the recent trend of risk-averse decision-making by studios.

Fantastic Beasts is a Harry Potter spin-off and therefore an almost certain success, while Doctor Strange is yet another Marvel superhero movie, whose predecessors have all turned big profits. But it looks to me that the draw of superhero flicks is waning and the desire for more Harry Potter is burning brighter than ever. Bank on Fantastic Beasts taking the prize.


Odds on the highest-grossing film in the 2016 holiday season

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: 1/1

Doctor Strange: 2/1

Trolls: 17/3

Arrival: 39/1

Hacksaw Ridge: 39/1


Photo credit: “Udderbelly Box Office” by Garry Knight, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.

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