Box Office Flashback: November – Christmas Antics And Deathly Magic

Looking at box office history reveals the shifting or non-shifting trends of movie audiences. Thirty years ago, comedy took home all the money; twenty years ago, it was the same story, but ten years ago, the action-packed end of an epic saga won the day.

November releases typically come without much fanfare and for a long time was a month reserved for family films, drama, and maybe an Oscar contender or two. November paves the way to December’s releases of Oscar-bait and box office dominators, but both months have seen the decades change the type of movie that shows up on screens. There aren’t enough months for the kinds of films releasing today.

So, who took the box office crowns in our analysis this month? Let’s take a look back ten, twenty, and thirty years ago at the biggest movies released in November.

1990 • Home Alone • 143.5 million

home alone-film-box office

November 1990 is a pretty epic year when it comes to memorable, money-making films. The champ this year, Home Alone, was a blockbuster that made Macaulay Culkin a super-star. Home Alone shattered records on its way to a massive haul of nearly 500 million worldwide. Anthony Edwards and Joe Pesci are classic hapless villains who suffer booby trap after booby trap set by Kevin McCallister, the kid who’s home alone. By the time it’s theatrical release was over, Home Alone was the third highest-grossing film behind Star Wars and E.T.

Home Alone‘s box office numbers blew away the competition released in November of 1990. But the distant second-place finisher, Dances With Wolves, took home a lot of gold at the Oscars (winning 7 out of 12 nominations). Three Men And A Little Lady came in third, just ahead of Steel Magnolias, Rocky V, and Little Mermaid. Whoa. What a year! It doesn’t end there; Misery, the Stephen King adaptation that made Kathy Bates an icon, wasn’t too far behind, and neither were Predator 2 or Child’s Play 2. November 1990 was a cavalcade of film releases that left a lasting impression on pop culture.

2000 • How The Grinch Stole Christmas • 251.6 million

the grinch-jim carrey-dr seuss

Ten years after the epic November of 1990, How The Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey took the box office crown. Like Home Alone, The Grinch was far ahead of all the other films released in November 2000. Carrey was at the peak of his star-power, having done Liar, Liar, The Truman Show, and Man on the Moon before playing the titular Grinch. Ron Howard, the man who famously finished Star Wars: Solo and brought Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code to the screen, directed the to an impressive nearly 400 million dollar box office haul.

Charlie’s Angels from director McG came in second with roughly fifty percent less domestic box office than The Grinch. Charlie’s Angels was a hit powered by its stars Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu. It also spawned a sequel and later, a reboot with Kristen Stewart. M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable became the third straight hit for the director and may have had a subtle but notable impact on how a superhero movie could operate. Rugrats In Paris came in fourth, which proves just how much power the cartoon had at the start of the 21st century. 102 Dalmatians, the sequel to Disney’s classic animated film with the iconic Cruella Deville, came in the fifth spot.

2010 • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 • 177 million

harry potter-film-box office

November 2010 features the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter films. Sort of. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint returned for the first half of the final chapter in JK Rowling’s epic tale of the boy who lived. Harry Potter is a franchise, unlike few others that spanned eight cohesive films. It was mostly faithful to the book, and it’ll be a long time before anyone attempts to put those books on film again. The Harry Potter universe continues to deliver by expanding the universe with theme parks and spinoff films.

Harry Potter safely took the box office crown, and there was little doubt it wouldn’t. Two animated films battled for second and third place. Tangled, the movie loosely based on the German fairy tale “Rapunzel” took second place with 161.2 million. Just behind at 143 was Megamind, the superhero animated film with the voice talents of Will Ferrel, Tina Fey, and Brad Pitt. The comedy Due Date starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifinakis came in a distant fourth, beating out the Chris Pine, train gone crazy film Unstoppable.

November 2020 & Predictions

Covering the box office this year is dismal, and the impact on an entire industry is dire. Exhibitors like AMC And Cobb weren’t doing all that great pre-COVID, as evidence by falling domestic ticket sales for nearly two straight decades. Now, the long, grueling fight against the virus has effectively crushed the industry. There’s no telling where things will go from here. In August, a judge removed the Paramount Decree of 1948, which barred studios from owning theater chains. The future of movie theaters may end in the hands of studios like Disney, who will be able to own the experience, from production to distribution, once things get “back to normal.” However, streaming, video games, and V.R. aren’t going away and further dominate the entertainment landscape.

Which of these films do you still watch today?
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Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.