Particularly for moviegoers who travel in related packs.
For all the castigating they take, family films — even live-action movies not propelled by computer-generated effects and toy tie-ins — remain the industry’s most bankable pictures.
That’s more than most genres can claim this year. Superheroes fizzled, 3-D faded and many sequels failed to match their predecessors, commercially or critically.
Despite dwindling returns, though, family movies found a foothold in 2011. The Help served up $166 million, the 11th biggest movie of the year. Despite being 17 years old and hand-drawn, The Lion King in 3D mustered $93 million. Real Steel, the Hugh Jackman family story about boxing robots, has done $67 million so far and taken the top spot at the box office two weekends in a row.
Here’s how serious family movies are getting: Martin Scorsese has made one for this season (Hugo). Steven Spielberg has made two (The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse).
Not that teen films, action and adult drama will get short shrift. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 invades theaters Nov. 18 with the beginning of a farewell that could challenge Harry Potter’s. Mission: Impossible returns for a fourth installment and Sherlock Holmes for a second. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo arrives with what Sony hopes is the first of at least three films.
Oscar Hopefuls in the Mix
And it wouldn’t be the holidays without some yuletide Oscar offerings, especially biographies. Clint Eastwood casts Leonardo DiCaprio as FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar, and Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
But movies safe for Grandma and the grandkids will arrive undeterred. “Family time is clearly prime time” at the cineplex this time of year, says columnist Anne Thompson of the blog Thompson on Hollywood. “It’s been the one thing in the marketplace that’s still appealing to a wide denominator.”
So brace yourself. Over the next two months, studios will be hawking, on average, a family movie every weekend. Sometimes two. Three are set for Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s the only genre that’s delivering any kind of a profit margin, which is why we’re going to be seeing so many of them,” says Jeff Bock of the industry tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. “Most movies this year have been showing up in theaters and are gone within four weeks. We’re seeing family movies stick around for two months or more.”No tags for this post.