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2014 Preview: October

September 30th, 2014

Fury poster

September is over and while it got off to a bad start, a really, really, truly terrible start, it actually ended on a bit of a strong note. Granted, no film has yet to reach $100 million, but The Maze Runner and The Equalizer both could get there in the end. As for October, we might go another month without a $100 million hit. There are a couple of films that have the potential to reach the century mark, Gone Girl and Fury. Hopefully they will get there, but given the recent box office woes, it is probably best to keep expectations low. Last October, there were two films that earned more than $100 million. Bad Grandpa just made it passed that mark. On the other hand, Gravity was a monster hit earning nearly $275 million. It you compare its run to this year's batch of films, it only ranks behind Guardians of the Galaxy. ... There's no way any film opening this month is going to match that. ... There no way the top two films will match that. ... The top three films might not match that. ... 2014 is going to get crushed in the year-over-year comparison and by the end of the month, it will be safe to say its chances of ever catching up to 2013 will be over. It is going to be a depressing month.

Weekend of October 3rd, 2014

Gone Girl poster

October gets off to a good start with Gone Girl potentially becoming the biggest hit of the month. Annabelle is a spin-off of The Conjuring, which earned more than $300 million worldwide last year. If this film earns half of that amount, I think the studio will be happy. The final wide release is Left Behind, which has a "so bad it's good" buzz building. That's not a good sign for its box office chances. This weekend last year was the weekend Gravity debuted. At least Gravity didn't have a monster opening, so 2014 won't lose too badly this weekend.

Annabelle

Annabelle poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AnnabelleMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 3rd, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.
Source: Spin-Off / Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Cults, Demons, New Parents, Pregnant Woman, Prequel, Living Toys, and more
Directed By: John R. Leonetti
Written By: Gary Dauberman
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Annabelle is a spin-off of The Conjuring, a film that cost just $20 million to make, but earned more than $100 million domestically and more than $300 million worldwide. It comes as no surprise that the studio would turn that success into a franchise; however, it is a little strange that they would use the doll from the prologue of the first film to be the jumping off point for this movie. The buzz is much weaker this time around, thanks in part to the lack of returning cast. That said, it is October, so it should get a boost thanks to its genre. I don't expect it to open in first place, but odds are it will become a midlevel hit and break even during its initial push into the home market, if not sooner.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FindAmazingAmy.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: October 3rd, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.
Source: Based on a Novel
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Missing Person, Relationship Gone Wrong, Fired, New York City, In-Laws, Twins, Infidelity, Surprise Twist, Novel Adapted By Author, and more
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and otherts
Production Budget: Rumored at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike play husband and wife. He is a journalist, but he is fired and they have to move out of New York City to a smaller town, which she hates. The marriage continues to deteriorate and on their anniversary, she disappears. He is seen as the most likely suspect in her disappearance.

Gone Girl is based on a very popular novel and while changes had to be made from the book to the movie (it has an unusual story structure) the buzz is very strong. Gillian Flynn wrote both the novel and the screenplay, so you know you don't have to worry about the adaptation process butchering her work. David Fincher also has an incredible track record, at least with critics. The last time he directed a movie that didn't earn overall positive reviews was Alien 3, which was also his first movie. So far this film's reviews have been fantastic with a Tomatometer Score of 88% positive. That is high enough to be considered Oscar-worthy and I would be surprised if it didn't earn some some major nominations at the very least. It should also help it at the box office and it could be the first $100 million hit of the month.

Left Behind

Left Behind poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LeftBehindMovie.com
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Release Date: October 3rd, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements, violence/peril and brief drug content.
Source: Based on the Novel
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Remake, Faith-based, End of the World, Religious, Post-Apocalypse, Prophecy, Rapture, and more
Directed By: Vic Armstrong
Written By: Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Paul Lalonde, and John Patus
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Cassi Thomson, Chad Michael Murray, and others
Production Budget: $16 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Left Behind is the first film being made by Stoney Lake Entertainment and it is being released by Freestyle Releasing. Freestyle Releasing is the same company that released The Identical. That film made less than $3 million in theaters, but is still one of their biggest box office draws ever. Their biggest box office draw so far has been An American Haunting which made $16 million. Not everyone thinks this film will top that low, low bar.

There are multiple reasons for the pessimism. Granted, there have been many faith-based films that have done well recently, like Heaven is for Real or God's Not Dead, but both of those were dramas. Faith-based outside of that genre tend to perform a lot worse. Secondly, Left Behind is a remake and the original is really bad. Finally, this is the smallest movie of the weekend and it will likely fall between the cracks.

Weekend of October 10th, 2014

The Judge poster

The second weekend of October is a little busier with four wide releases, but none of them are expected to be monster hits. Depending on who you talk to, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day will top the chart, while others think The Judge will come out on top. I'm in the latter group. While there might be a two-way race for the top, most people think the other two films will bomb. Addicted might not open truly wide, or if it does, it will barely open wide with a theater count around 2000 theaters. Finally there's Dracula Untold, which many think will bomb hard costing the studio a bundle. By comparison, this weekend last year was led by Gravity, again, with Captain Phillips being the only wide release worth mentioning. There are more new releases this year, but I don't think any of them will do as well as those two films, meaning 2014 will again lose in the year-over-year comparison. On a side note, there are some sources that say One Chance will open wide, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Addicted

Addicted poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/Addicted
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: October 10th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and brief drug use.
Source: Based on a Novel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: African-American, Interracial Romance, Relationship Gone Wrong, Addiction, Infidelity, Obsessive Love, Erotic Thriller, and more
Directed By: Bille Woodruff
Written By: Zane, Ernie Barbarash, and Christina Welsh
Starring: Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Sharon Leal stars as a married woman who is addicted to sex and cheats on her husband, Boris Kodjoe. However her infidelities may cost her everything. This is as generic an erotic thriller as No Good Deed was a generic home invasion thriller. Then again, No Good Deed will finish with between $50 million and $60 million, so I don't think the studio would be upset with that comparison. Given the competition and the lack of buzz, this film will be lucky to earn half of that amount. On the other hand, this sounds like the kind of film that does well on the home market.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Movies.Disney.com/Alexander-And-The-Terrible-Horrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day/
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: October 10th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language.
Source: Based on a Novel
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: I think I'm going to have to watch this one to come up with keywords.
Directed By: Miguel Arteta
Written By: Judith Viorst and Rob Lieber
Starring: Ed Oxenbould, Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Kerris Dorsey, Dylan Minnette, and other
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Ed Oxenbould stars as the titular Alexander, who is cursed with bad luck. Everyone else in his family is blessed with good luck, so they don't understand the concept of having a bad day. Then one day, everyone in the family gets a taste of what Alexander goes through.

Family films are one of the biggest genres at the box office and every year there are usually one or two near the top of the charts. However, they are almost always animated family films. Live action family films rarely find success at the box office. There have been some $100 million movies, like two of the Spy Kids films, but even $50 million would be a success compared to a lot of the competition. Additionally, The Book of Life is opening the weekend after and it is earning much stronger buzz. I think it should earn between $50 million and $60 million in total, which might be the most any of the four wide releases opening this weekend. However, as a family film, it will get off to a slower start, but will ride long legs to box office success.

Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DraculaUntold.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 10th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing images, and some sensuality.
Source: Based on a Novel / Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Origin Story, Monster Movie, Vampire, Faustian Deal, and more
Directed By: Gary Shore
Written By: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Samantha Barks, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

I've heard reports that Universal wants to turn their movie monsters franchise into a massive crossover universe, sort of like how The Avengers works with Marvel. If so, it seems strange they would start with this film. The buzz around Dracula Untold is really bad. Luke Evans isn't exactly a proven box office star. Sure, his total domestic box office is nearly $800 million and worldwide the movies he has been in have pulled in more than $2.5 billion, but half of those totals come from two films where he jumped into the middle of already successful franchises. Additionally, a lot of fans of Dracula are not happy with the PG-13 rating. Maybe this movie will be a surprise hit, but it is more likely that it will be the most expensive bomb of the month.

The Judge

The Judge poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheJudgeMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 10th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Lawyers, Courtroom Drama, Funeral Reunion, Dysfunctional Family, Ensemble, You Can't Go Home Again, and more
Directed By: David Dobkin
Written By: Bill Dubuque and Nick Schenk
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $60 million

Robert Downey, Jr. plays a big-city lawyer who returns home for his mother's funeral. Once there, he learns his father, Robert Duvall, who is also the town judge, is suspected of murder. This movie has an amazing cast, but its early reviews are only mixed at 50% positive. As long as the reviews don't dip below 40% positive, I think the strong cast will help the film open well enough to earn first place. And while its legs won't be long, they should be long enough for the film to become a midlevel hit keeping the studio somewhat happy.

Weekend of October 17th, 2014

Fury poster

The third weekend of October could be the host to the biggest hit of the month, Fury. It is certainly earning the loudest buzz of the month. On the other hand, The Book of Life's buzz is rather weak. It is an animated film with a macabre, but colorful, look to it and it is opening just before Halloween. Why are more people excited about its box office chances? The final wide release of the week is The Best of Me, which is the latest film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. There's one final release this week worth mentioning, Birdman. It isn't opening wide, but the buzz and the early reviews suggest it could expand wide. This weekend last year was led by Gravity, again. The best new release was Carrie, which earned third place. I think 2014 will come close to matching 2013 at the box office. It could be a coin toss, but I think 2014 will come up short yet again.

The Best of Me

The Best of Me poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: http://www.facebook.com/BestOfMeMovie.com
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: October 17th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, violence, some drug content and brief strong language.
Source: Based on a Novel
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Romance, You Can't Go Home Again, Funeral Reunion, Dysfunctional Family, Organized Crime, Romeo and Juliet Romance, and more
Directed By: Michael Hoffman
Written By: Nicholas Sparks, J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters, and Michael Hoffman
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden, Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million, more or less
Box Office Potential: $45 million

The Best of Me is the latest Nicholas Sparks film to come out in theaters. His box office track record has been great, for the most part, while critics despise his films, again for the most part. The buzz for this one suggests it won't be as strong as his previous films. His most recent film was Safe Haven, which was also released by Relativity. It earned just over $70 million, but most think this film will earn less than half of that amount. Granted, Safe Haven was given a boost by opening on Valentine's Day and The Best of Me won't be as strong due to the weaker release date. But even so, I don't think this film will flop quite as badly as many are predicting.

The Book of Life

The Book of Life poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BookOfLifeMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: October 17th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Love Triangle, Romance, Gambling, Underworld, Undead, and more
Directed By: Jorge R. Gutierrez
Written By: Jorge R. Gutierrez and Doug Langdale
Starring: Diego Luna, Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

The Book of Life is made by the same animated studio that made Free Birds. That film cost $55 million to make and earned $55 million during its box office run. It was also released by Relativity, while this movie is coming out under the Fox banner. I think that will result in a bigger marketing push. It has certainly resulted in louder buzz. Additionally, it is a scary kids movie opening right around Halloween, which should boost its numbers. It likely won't be a monster hit, as kids movies with horror elements rarely do get to the $100 million milestone. For instance, Monster House earned nearly $75 million with a less topical release date. On the other hand, family films tend to perform better in July than in October. Back to the original hand, there has been 8 years of ticket price inflation to help boost the box office numbers. Overall, I think the factors balance out and $75 million is a reasonable target. Granted, I am a little more bullish than most, so keep that in mind.

Fury

Fury poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/Fury
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: October 17th, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: World War II, Behind Enemy Lines, and more
Directed By: David Ayer
Written By: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Micheal Pena, Jon Bernthal, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $80 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Brad Pitt leads his tank crew deep behind enemy lines in this World War II flick. The film is earning arguably the best buzz of the month. Right now, Gone Girl has louder buzz, but that's because it is opening in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, there are no early reviews to judge the film by, while David Ayer's track record is mixed. He wrote and directed End of Watch, which was amazing. He also wrote and directed Sabotage, which was not. If the reviews are closer to the former than the latter, then I think Fury will cross $100 million with relative ease. If not, it might have trouble matching its production budget.

Weekend of October 24th, 2014

Ouija poster

This could be a busy week, as there are as many as four films opening or expanding wide. Or it might be a really slow week, as only one film is 100% opening wide. Ouija is definitely opening wide and should become the biggest hit of the weekend. Its buzz isn't good, but it is better than the rest. I'm 90% sure John Wick is opening wide, but you couldn't tell based on the buzz. On the other hand, it appears Laggies is opening semi-wide, at most. A24 has yet to open a film truly wide and I doubt this film will be the first. Finally there's St. Vincent, which is opening in limited release on the 10th of the month with a planned "nationwide" expansion this weekend. This could mean it is expanding truly wide, or it could mean it is expanding into the top 50 markets. I think the latter is more likely than the former. This weekend last year, Bad Grandpa opened with just over $32 million. This is more than either of this year's two new releases will make during their opening weekend. It could be more than both of them make combined. It looks like another losing week for 2014 in the year-over-year comparison.

John Wick

John Wick poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JohnWickTheMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate Release Date: October 24th, 2014
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Could be PG-13 or R
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Organized Crime, Russian Mafia, Revenge, Retired, Out of Retirement, Hitmen, and more
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Written By: Derek Kolstad
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Keanu Reeves plays a retired hitman, who comes out of retirement when his dog is killed by some Russian Mobsters.

The buzz for John Wick is among the quietest of the month. There are limited releases opening this month that are earning much louder buzz. The buzz is quiet enough that I think it might not open truly wide. The first trailer was only released a few weeks ago, so that partially explains why the buzz is just not there, but then one has to ask why the studio didn't promote the movie earlier? Maybe they don't have faith in the movie. I certainly don't think it will be a hit.

Ouija

Ouija poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: OuijaMovie.com
Distributor: Universal Release Date: October 24th, 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing violent content, frightening horror images, and thematic material.
Source: Based on a Game
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Haunting and more
Directed By: Stiles White
Written By: Stiles White and Juliet Snowden
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, Douglas Smith, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

A horror film opening the weekend before Halloween. This could be a surprise hit, but the buzz suggests it won't be. There are more people complaining about the PG-13 rating than they are talking about the quality of the movie. Hell, there are more people talking about whether or not Ouija boards possess any real magic than there are people talking about the quality of the movie. (They don't, by the way.) Additionally, most of the cast have little to no box office drawing power. That said, it only cost $5 million to make and the genre and release date should result in a respectable opening regardless of the buzz.

Weekend of October 31st, 2014

Nightcrawler poster

The final weekend of the month begins on October 31st, Halloween. This is a terrible day to open a movie, which explains why there is only one film risking it. There is almost no chance Nightcrawler will become a hit, but the lack of competition could help it earn first place. The only other film of note this week is the original Saw, which is getting a tenth anniversary one week re-release. This weekend last year was actually the first weekend in November, so the misalignment will really hurt the year-over-year comparison. The number one film was Ender's Game, which opened with $27.02 million. That was disappointing, but still far more than any film will make this weekend. In fact, it is likely more than Nightcrawler will make in total. Worse still, last year there were five films to earn more than $10 million at the box office over the weekend. This year, there will likely be none. 2014 is going to end October on a tragically low note and it is likely the total deficit will be far too high to recover before the end of the year.

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: NightcrawlerFilm.com
Distributor: Open Road Release Date: October 31st, 2014
MPAA Rating: R for violence including graphic images, and for language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Crime Thriller, Journalism, TV Industry, News, Photography, Los Angeles, and more
Directed By: Dan Gilroy
Written By: Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who stumbles into the world of underground crime journalism where people race around the city trying to be the first to cover crimes as they happen. The buzz isn't very loud, at least not yet, but the early reviews are excellent, so much so that Jake Gyllenhaal is earning a bit of Oscar buzz. That said, this is a really bad time to open a movie and the film will likely open below $10 million and unless it does earn some major Awards Season buzz, will fade quickly once the November monster hits start coming out.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Dracula Untold, The Equalizer, Ouija, No Good Deed, The Maze Runner, Fury, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Judge, Addicted, Gone Girl, The Best of Me, The Identical, Spy Kids, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal, Steve Carell, Dominic Cooper, Willem Dafoe, David Dobkin, Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, David Fincher, Jennifer Garner, Jake Gyllenhaal, Boris Kodjoe, Shia LaBeouf, Sharon Leal, Logan Lerman, Diego Luna, James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Chad Michael Murray, Adrianne Palicki, Bill Paxton, Michael Peña, Rosamund Pike, Rene Russo, Zoe Saldana, Douglas Smith, Channing Tatum, Billy Bob Thornton, Bille Woodruff, Luke Evans, Riz Ahmed, Miguel Arteta, Liana Liberato, Luke Bracey, Ernie Barbarash, Will Fetters, Kerris Dorsey, Sarah Gadon, Dan Gilroy, Chad Stahelski, David Ayer, Vic Armstrong, Juliet Snowden, Nick Schenk, Samantha Barks, Stiles White, Nicholas Sparks, Gary Shore, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Annabelle Wallis, Michael Hoffman, John R. Leonetti, Doug Langdale, Dylan Minnette, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Olivia Cooke, Gillian Flynn, J. Mills Goodloe, Ward Horton, Bianca Santos, Derek Kolstad