November movies — everything but “Harry Potter!”

Just as Hollywood extends its summer movie season by kicking things off in early May rather than waiting for Memorial Day, it also extends its holiday season by starting it in early November instead of holding back until Thanksgiving.

By launching big movies with broad playability several weeks before the holiday weekend, Hollywood is able to generate more boxoffice gravy than it could by stuffing more films into the long Turkey Day weekend where they’d wind up competing with each other.

Here at ZAMM.com we're always keeping an eye on what’s in the movie pipeline so we can help you keep up-to-date on the choices you’ll have at the boxoffice in the coming months. Our focus today is on the wide releases opening in November. The month is filled with a wide range of movies so no matter what you’re looking for there’s likely to be something you’ll enjoy — unless you’re a “Harry Potter” fan and thought the next episode was opening for Thanksgiving. It’s not (see below) and you’ll have to sit tight until next July 17!

November will get off to a busy start (Nov. 7-9) with three wide openings competing for moviegoers’ time and money. The weekend’s highest profile release is the animated family comedy “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” from DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Eric Carnell & Tom McGrath, who directed the 2005 blockbuster “Madagascar,” the sequel boasts an all-star voice cast — including Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Andy Richter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, Sherri Shepherd and Alec Baldwin.

“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” film revolves around the continuing adventures of Alex the Lion and his best friends Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The original “ Madagascar ” opened May 27, 2005 to $47.2 million at 4,131 theaters ($11,431 per theater). It wound up grossing $193.6 million domestically (U.S. and Canada) and $339.1 million internationally for a worldwide total of $532.7 million. “ Madagascar ” was the ninth biggest film on the domestic boxoffice chart for 2005. The year’s top grosser was Fox and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars — Revenge of the Sith” with $380.3 million.

The R-rated comedy “Role Models” from Universal Pictures is targeted to a young adult demo and, therefore, isn’t likely to suffer from its family appeal animated competition. Directed by David Wain, who directed the 2007 comedy “The Ten” starring Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), “Role Models” stars Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as two salesmen who trash a company truck while on an energy drink fueled bender.

After they’re arrested, the court offers them a choice — jail time or devoting 150 service hours to working with troubled kids in a mentorship program. After one day with the kids, however, jail doesn’t look half-bad. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The comedy “Soul Men” from Dimension Films, The Weinstein Company’s genre label, and MGM is directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins”) and stars Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac. It’s about two backup singers from a famous group who haven’t seen each other or even talked in 20 years but reluctantly agree to travel together to do a tribute performance after their former band leader dies.

This weekend should also have seen the arrival of the R rated action thriller “Killshot” from The Weinstein Company and MGM, but in early October TWC pulled it from release and said it probably won’t open now until early 2009. Directed by John Madden, an Oscar nominee for directing the best picture Oscar winner “Shakespeare in Love,” the film stars Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke. “Killshot” is the story of a husband and wife who witness a shakedown and then discover that the Witness Protection Program is no match for a pair of ruthless killers who want them dead.

Rourke’s career, by the way, is suddenly very hot again thanks to his performance in Darren Aronofsky’s critically acclaimed drama “The Wrestler,” which Fox Searchlight Pictures picked up in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and is opening in limited release Dec. 19. If all the best actor buzz that Rourke’s getting now turns out to generate Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, “Killshot” could benefit from moviegoer interest in Rourke when it finally hits theaters next year.

The boxoffice should really heat up the weekend of Nov. 14-16 when the James Bond epic “Quantum of Solace” from Sony and MGM opens wide. Understandably, no other wide releases are going to risk going up against 007.

Directed by Marc Forster, a Golden Globe nominee for directing “Finding Neverland,” “Quantum” once again stars Daniel Craig as Bond and Judi Dench as spy chief “M” and also stars Mathieu Amalric, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Jesper Christensen, Gemma Arterton and Olga Kurylenko.

Continuing the story of the last Bond film, “Casino Royale,” this time around 007 is seeking revenge after having been betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved. In “Quantum” Bond comes up against a ruthless businessman, Dominic Greene (Amalric), and a dangerous and beautiful woman, Camille (Kurylenko). It’s the same basic recipe that’s worked brilliantly for the previous 21 films in the Bond franchise based on Ian Fleming’s books and short stories that producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman started with 1963”s “Dr. No.”

Not included in that total of 21 Bond films is 1983's 007 adventure “Never Say Never Again,” which was produced outside the Broccoli-Saltzman franchise thanks to a complex legal situation involving rights to one of novelist Ian Fleming’s books. All told, the 22 Bond movies have grossed over $1.4 billion domestically.

“Casino Royale” opened Nov. 17, 2006 to $40.8 million at 3,434 theaters ($11,890 per theater). It went on to do $167.4 million domestically and $426.8 million internationally for a worldwide gross of $594.2 million. That made it the most successful Bond film ever in the domestic market (the U.S. and Canada), beating the $160.9 million gross for 2002’s “Die Another Day.” On the other hand, “Casino” only ranked ninth for the year at the boxoffice — far behind 2006’s top grossing domestic release, Disney's “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest” with $423.3 million.

There certainly are high hopes at Sony for “Quantum” to outperform “Casino.” There’s a good chance of that happening since Daniel Craig is now well established as Bond whereas he’d just debuted in that role in “Casino” and no one knew whether Bond fans would accept him as the successor to Pierce Brosnan.

The weekend of Nov. 21-23 will see a return to big competition as distributors position their films to enjoy a Thanksgiving boost in business the following week. This wasn’t going to be the case originally because Nov. 21 was the intended release date for Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth episode in the studio’s blockbuster franchise based on J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books.

Last Aug. 14 Warner surprised fans by the series and everyone else in Hollywood by announcing it was pushing its next “Potter” episode back to July 17, 2009. The studio said the move was intended to give it a guaranteed blockbuster for the summer of ’09 since other potential blockbuster titles had been delayed due to the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike that interrupted production.

Other studios may not be as fortunate as Warner when it comes to having this kind of tentpole product to get them through the summer of ’09. The fewer big summer tentpole movies in theaters, the more business “Potter” can do. On the other hand, when Warner took “Potter” out of November that opened up this prime pre-Thanksgiving weekend for films that would otherwise have avoided going up against an 800-pound boxoffice gorilla. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

What was originally a very crowded weekend became a lot quieter when two other films also changed their opening dates — Overture Films’ family appeal drama “Nothing Like the Holidays” and DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures’ biographical drama “The Soloist.”

“Holidays” was pushed back in late September to Dec. 12, which is better timing for a film that takes place at Christmastime. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

As for “Soloist,” in mid-October Paramount announced its opening was being moved to Mar. 13, 2009. The film, directed by Joe Wright, a Golden Globe nominee for directing “Atonement,” a best picture Oscar nominee in 2008, had been expected to be an awards contender. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at what's still opening wide Nov. 21. The animated family film “Bolt” from Disney is directed by former Disney animators Chris Williams & Byron Howard in their first feature directing assignment. It stars the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus.

Bolt (Travolta) is a TV star dog who’s living a great life until he’s accidentally shipped from his soundstage in Hollywood to New York where he begins his biggest adventure yet — a cross-country journey through the real world to reunite him with his owner and co-star Penny (Cyrus).

Along the way Bolt’s helped by two unlikely companions — a jaded abandoned housecat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voiced by Mark Walton). Ultimately, Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The suspense thriller “Twilight” from Summit Entertainment is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, director of the 2005 drama “Lords of Dogtown,” and stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.

Its story revolves around Bella, a high school girl (Stewart), who falls in love with Edward, a “vegetarian”-style vampire (Pattinson) who doesn’t drink human blood. He's waited 90 years for his soul mate to arrive and now she has. Complications arise when other vampires turn up, forcing Bella to decide if she wants to become one of the undead, too.

Hollywood is launching five wide releases to compete over the five day Thanksgiving period from Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Nov. 30. And just like a good Thanksgiving dinner, there will be something at the boxoffice to satisfy everyone’s taste.

20th Century Fox's romantic period piece drama “Australia” is directed by Baz Luhrmann, whose 2001 musical “Moulin Rouge” was a best picture Oscar nominee, and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

Set in Northern Australia prior to World War II, “Australia” is the story of an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a ranch the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of rough terrain, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor a few months earlier. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The romantic comedy “Four Christmases” from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema is directed by Seth Gordon, director of the 2007 documentary “The King of Kong,” and stars Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Jon Favreau and Mary Steenburgen.

In “Four Christmases” an upscale happily unmarried couple (Vaughn and Witherspoon) find themselves socked in by fog on Christmas morning. Their exotic vacation plans suddenly go out the window and are replaced by the sort of family-centric holiday they had, until now, gleefully avoided. Unable to escape, they wind up having to attend four relative-choked festivities. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The action-adventure “The Transporter 3” from Lionsgate is directed by Olivier Megaton, director of the 2000 sci-fi thriller “Exit,” and stars Jason Statham as ex-Special Forces operative Frank Miller, who specializes in high-risk deliveries — human or otherwise. To see our ZammCam preview, select the movie from the playlist above.

The comedy “Fanboys” from The Weinstein Company and MGM is directed by Kyle Newman, director of the 2004 television horror film “The Hollow,” and stars Dan Fogler and Kristen Bell. It's the story of a group of avid “Star Wars” fans from the Midwest who are determined to take their dying friend to Skywalker Ranch so he can see “Star Wars” in its perfect setting before he dies.

The fantasy drama “The Road” from Dimension Films and MGM is directed by John Hillcoat, director of the 2005 western drama “The Proposition,” and stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Robert Duvall. It's a post-apocalyptic tale about a man on a nightmarish road trip attempting to get his son to safety while dealing with marauding packs of cannibals.