It's been a cruel summer and flimsy fall for theater chains. AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC -5.36%) and its smaller rivals have been experiencing weak ticket sales since mid-July, and it's throwing the industry's recovery into question. Domestic box office receipts are 34% lower this year than they were at this point in 2019, and down 38% compared to the year before that. 

Last month was even more problematic. October ticket sales plunged 25% over the previous year, when we were much earlier in the pandemic's recovery process. Exhibitors need a hit, and thankfully November has a lot of promising theatrical releases. Let's check out some of the flicks that can help AMC and its peers turn things around this month.

Two couples enjoying a date at the movies.

Image source: Getty Images.

Nov. 11

There's little doubt that this month's top draw will be Disney's (DIS -2.68%) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The first film in the Marvel franchise topped $700 million in domestic ticket sales to become the highest grossing film of 2018. Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman unfortunately left us too soon, but the movies will continue. 

The new movie is highly unlikely to exceed the original entry's financial success. Industry experts are modeling between $450 million and $550 million in the U.S. market, making it this year's second-biggest winner behind May's Top Gun: Maverick. But it will still bring crowds back to theaters next weekend. 

Another film of note that opens in select Los Angeles and New York City theaters is The Fabelmans. Steven Spielberg directed and co-wrote this one, and it's already generating heavy Oscar buzz. It's about a young filmmaker growing up, making this one personal for Spielberg. Will this be our country's Cinema Paradiso? It will start playing nationwide two weeks later.     

Nov. 18

Wakanda Forever will be a hard act to follow, and studios know that putting up potential blockbusters a week later is a bad move. We still have a couple of interesting debutantes in the star-studded The Menu and She Said, the story of the New York Times reporters that cracked open the Harvey Weinstein accusations and kicked off the #metoo movement. 

The two premieres are in genres that haven't been big box-office winners in the era of streaming services. However, they should still find their mid-November audiences. With Wakanda Forever screenings likely still selling out by then, this could also find other moviegoers opting for one of these two new movies.

Nov. 23

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is a big deal for exhibitors. Families are gathering, and there's only so much turkey and football that a home can take. A trip to the multiplex is a popular diversion, and here is where the biggest movies outside of the Black Panther sequel will emerge.

Some of the big movies opening that weekend -- beyond The Fabelmans going into wide distribution -- include Devotion, Strange World, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. All three will be interesting in their own way. Devotion is based on the story of two elite U.S. Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War. With the huge success that Top Gun: Maverick had this year, it could translate into interest for Devotion even if the latter naturally lacks the franchise and nostalgic power of this year's top draw. Strange World is Disney's latest full-length animated theatrical feature, but the House of Mouse has proven mortal on this front lately.  

Glass Onion will also be interesting. Netflix (NFLX -0.95%) acquired the sequel to the popular 2019 sleeper whodunit hit Knives Out. It will begin streaming the movie on its platform on Dec. 23, but it struck a deal with AMC and other leading theater chains to screen the film for a week over Thanksgiving, a month ahead of its streaming debut. Will folks turn out knowing they can stream the film on Netflix a few weeks later? If patrons do peel this Glass Onion at the local multiplex later this month during this one-week engagement, it could find more on-demand video platforms going this route as an incremental revenue stream.    

This year has been a dud for movie theater stocks, but we still have two more months before 2022 comes to a close. November should provide a surge in ticket sales that's been largely absent since early July.