In Theaters This Weekend: November 16, 2012

A bit different week than the last, where we only saw one new film hit in wide release (though, at the same time, it's also kind of the same). "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is officially the only new film opening in wide release this weekend, though Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" expands to a wide release from last weekend's 11 theater count. So for all intents and purposes, I consider that a new wide release this weekend as well, at least for the purposes of this post. One other film, "Silver Linings Playbook", starts its limited release this weekend as well, and even though it too will get a wide push a week from now, there are already plenty of films lined up for a wide release then, so this seems as good a time as any to discuss it.

Hit the jump for a full rundown on each of the titles mentioned above, as well as what we might expect from this weekend's box office numbers.

Though it's easily at the bottom of my own personal list this week, I'll start with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2". This is the fifth and final installment for the franchise, which returns all notable characters from the previous films, and introduces a slew of new ones. In plot alone, the film seems decent. The old-school vampire elders are after Edward and Bella's baby (they want to kill it for some reason), so the Cullen clan has to band together and scour every corner of the earth for vampire brethren to help them in their fight against the Volturi. It looks like Bella is a vampire now too, so we have that (has she been a vampire the whole time?). I apologize for my ignorance here. I saw the first film and part of the second. Then I was done. Look, it's the fifth film. This is one of the highest American grossing franchises of all-time; odds are your familiar with what it has to offer and have your opinions on it one way or another. I'll try to refrain from too much of my one-sided opinions on the film (if you really want them you can give a listen to last week's CinemaCast), but overall, the series is a brilliant moneymaker, that has to put little effort into actors, script, effects, etc., but turns out massive profits time and time again. It's a great system they've discovered, and as businessmen, I don't fault anyone involved with this series at all.

Amazingly, the film has so far reviewed to an impressive 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's still early and there are only 25 or so reviews in so far, but still, this is currently the only film from the series breaking the 50% mark, so if it's able to hold anything close to this, it will be a success. My gut is that if you've watched the entirety of the series up to this point, you'll surely find at least bits of enjoyment in seeing resolution with these characters and storylines. Regardless of the franchise, I am always a sucker for a good wrap-up film. That being said, as this post is written by me personally, I cannot recommend this film to anyone over the age of 12. If you're a tween and fell in love with this story, go for it. I'm sure you'll love it. Outside of that though, I'm not sure how much there is to gain with this film. I can't even sit through the trailers without being embarrassed for the quality in front of me (and I'm not just saying that to be dramatic). Your opinions on this film were made a few years ago, and there's nothing that anyone will say to change them, for better or worse. If you do venture out, I hope it's an enjoyable experience.

The second film opening in wide release this weekend is "Lincoln". The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others. It's Spielberg's dramatic telling of the days leading up to the conclusion of the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln's fight to also abolish slavery. It tells the story of the man and the power he had on the country.

This is a film I've been looking forward to all year, and from everything I've heard so far, it's fantastic. It's currently at a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that's already amongst more than 100 reviews. I haven't really read any specific reviews yet, but what I'm hearing so far is that it's a wonderful and heartfelt telling of this man and our country, and the cinematography especially is some of the best ever from a Spielberg film. Many expect this will be a front-runner at the Academy Awards, vying for the top prize of Best Picture. Daniel Day-Lewis also seems a shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination, and might very well become the first person to ever win the award three times. I'll hold off any predictions until I actually see the film, but this is one of the easier films to recommend to audiences across all demographics. It carries a PG-13 rating, so no worries there; this is a great telling of one of the pivotal moments in our country's history. Parents should show this to their kids, and while adults will be able to appreciate the history as well, it looks as just about every facet of this picture is near masterful in craftsmanship. Go soak this one in; it looks like a sure-thing.

Lastly, I'll touch on "Silver Linings Playbook", though it will only get started in 15 theaters this weekend. The film is directed by David O. Russell ("The Fighter", "Three Kings"), and stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver. After a stint in a mental institution, Cooper's character, Pat, moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. He soon meets Tiffany (Lawrence), who has problems of her own; but together they learn again how to live.

Sounds a little cheesy and generic, but the cast and director involved with this film are top-notch, and with the tones I've seen in the trailers, this really looks like it could be one of my favorite films of the year. I love character dramedies like this, and I'm really excited to check this one out. Reviews just started coming in for this one (currently 84%), but already there's Oscar buzz around it. While it doesn't look like a film that could win Best Picture (at least not this year), a nomination wouldn't be surprising. More than anything though, this appears to be an actors film, and should garner nominations in at least thee of the four acting categories. Jacki Weaver hasn't had much buzz for a Supporting Actress nomination, so that might not happen - though it's a weak field for that category this year, so who knows. And with The Weinstein Company behind it, who knows what kind of awards lobbying they'll push for the film's various categories. Cooper seems like a fringe nomination, but people seem to like his turn here, and since he's so likable, my gut says he gets in. As for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, many say that Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro are the names to beat right now. Nominations seem assured for them, with wins entirely possible for both.

I apologize for getting off on a tangent, but awards season is soon upon us; that part of me is starting to creep out! This is a film I'm very much looking forward to, and even though I'll have to wait for its expansion next weekend, it will be a film I see as soon as I'm able. There's nothing for the kiddos in this one, but most young adults should be able to appreciate the aspects that this film has to offer. I think it will be a heartwarming story, but not in a sappy/cheesy way. If you get a chance at this one this weekend, I highly recommend checking it out.

As for some quick box office predictions. Last week, "Skyfall" blew the rest of the field away and recorded $87MM. It's been dominating box offices across the globe, and with its strong reviews and amazing word-of-mouth, I don't much expect it to stop now. However, there are other quality films hitting theaters this weekend, and they will eat away some at its totals. Twilight doesn't seem to have much cross-over crowd to me, so I think those can both flourish independently; "Lincoln", on the other hand, feels pretty similar in top demographics to "Skyfall", so while both should do fine, "Lincoln" probably will eat away a little at what "Skyfall" could make in week-two (and vice versa). Even with something like a 40% drop, that's still more than $50MM this weekend. That feels so high with other big titles in theaters, but percentages don't lie. Out of my personal discomfort I'm going to say it makes something closer to $40MM this weekend, though I don't see where it loses that much traction.

As for the new releases, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" will take the top spot this weekend, probably close to doubling what "Skyfall" made last weekend. The previous installment opened with $138MM (same time of year), and I wouldn't expect anything less this time around. If anything, probably more, as this is the last film they're making. Dare we say, $150MM? What I don't like already though is that between two films we now have more total box office dollars than all of the films last weekend combined - and last weekend's box office was already at its highest point since July when "The Dark Knight Rises" released. And we're not even taking into account Spielberg's "Lincoln", which should clear $16MM-$18MM, similarly to projections for "Argo" and "Flight". Plus you throw on that "Wreck-It Ralph", in its third week, is still in-line for something like $15MM itself. Are we going to see another gigantic spike in box office numbers, or is one of these films going to get passed up? We've seen the latter happen plenty before, but I don't see it with these titles. Everything's been so positive for all of them, and expectations seem solidly in place.

I'm at a loss this week, so I'll just leave it at that. We'll find out on Sunday what happened and dissect from there. For now, these are the films we can look ahead to this weekend. Which will you be checking out?