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2011 Preview: October

October 1st, 2011

There is a little bit of good news going into October, as September did help close the year-to-date deficit, even if it was by a small amount. Unfortunately, we really needed a better result to be optimistic about our chances of closing that gap entirely by the end of the year. Even worse, this month represents the last chance 2011 has to catch up to 2010. I know there are two additional months left in the year, but October of 2010 was a soft month with four of the five weekends showing year-over-year declines. If October 2011 is even weaker, the odds of making up the $300 million deficit will be all but gone. It becomes even more troubling that there are no movies opening in October that are guaranteed to be monster hits. So, while October of 2010 was weak compared to October of 2009, it looks like it will be stronger than October of 2011. Hopefully I'm just being pessimistic. There are a couple films that have a shot at $100 million and I will be surprised if none of them at least come close to that milestone, but the slate of films is weaker than I would like.

Weekend of October 7th, 2011

Real Steel is the only saturation level release of the week, while Ides of March might not open truly wide. Fortunately, the two films have very different target demographics, with the former being Rocky with robot boxers and the latter being a political behind-the-scenes drama. Because they won't be poaching each others audience members, they have a better shot at reaching their potential. Also, while last October had four films that earned more than $80 million at the box office, none of them opened during this particular weekend last year, so hopefully the month can start on a strong note.

Ides of March

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: IdesOfMarch-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: October 7th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language.
Source: Based on a Play
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Politics, Corruption, Directing Yourself, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

George Clooney returns to the director's chair for the first time since Leatherheads. This film should be a bigger success. It is earning better reviews and with the GOP primary starting to heat up, it could benefit from the timing of its release. (It's a little early in the year to talk about Awards Season buzz, but I wouldn't be too surprised if the film grabbed the odd nomination.)

As for its box office chances, it is definitely playing counter-programing to Real Steel and has almost no chance at opening in first place, but it should have far better legs. Assuming it didn't cost too much more than expected, it should make enough to show a profit sometime during its home market run.

Real Steel

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SteelGetsReal.com
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: October 7th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, intense action and brief language.
Source: Based on a Short Story
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Boxing, Robots, Comeback, Underdog, and more
Directed By: Shawn Levy
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $80 million
Box Office Potential: $85 million

I have high hopes for this film for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's directed by Shawn Levy. Say what you will about his average Tomatometer Score, which isn't good, but you can't doubt his box office record. He's never had a box office flop in his career, while his box office average is over $120 million. Hugh Jackman should also help the film's bottom line, even though the majority of his box office success has come playing one character. Finally, it has boxing robots, which has cool written all over it.

On the other hand, I am a little more bullish than most. Hopefully early reviews are a good indication of the quality and the film is a surprise hit. It doesn't need to be Oscar-worthy to sell tickets, but if it can maintain an overall positive score, it will certainly help. We could really use some good news at the box office to start the month.

Weekend of October 14th, 2011

Three wide releases this week: The Big Year, which I've heard almost no buzz about; Footloose, which is generating some positive and some violently negative reviews; and The Thing, which is a prequel to one of the best remakes of all time. With very diverse target demographics, all three films could do well enough to be considered midlevel hits. However, none of them look to have the potential to be anything more and $50 million might be as much as any of them makes. Even worse, this weekend last year was the weekend Jackass 3D debuted in theaters, and that film made more than $50 million during its opening weekend alone. This could be a really bad weekend at the box office in the year-over-year comparison.

The Big Year

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheBigYearMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: October 14th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG for language and some sensuality.
Source: Based on a Magazine Article
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Delayed Adulthood, Midlife Crisis, Road Trip, Ensemble, and more
Directed By: David Frankel
Starring: Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This is a hard film to predict. It is directed by David Frankel, whose previous two films both cracked $100 million at the box office. The three main stars, Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson, have all had their share of $100 million hits. On the other hand, it's about birdwatching. Okay, it's more about men dealing with different stages in their lives, pointless competition between men, and a road trip, than it is about birdwatching, but that might still have a drag on the box office numbers. Also, while the three leading actors have had their share of hits recently, they've also had their share of misses as well.

There's a slim chance the film will surprise and be a solid hit with box office around $75 million, but it could also earn less than half that. Unfortunately, the lower end seems more likely than the higher.

Footloose

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FootlooseMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 14th, 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely aiming for PG-13.
Source: Remake of an Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama / Musical
Keywords: Dancing, Rock 'n' Roll, City Mouse / Country Mouse, and more
Directed By: Craig Brewer
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $25 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

After a drunken party leads to the death of several kids, including his son, Reverend Shaw Moore gets the small town of Bomont to ban all dancing and Rock 'n' Roll. Some time later, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), moves from big city Boston to this small town and immediately begins to conflict with these strict rules. Dancing ensues.

I've always felt the original Footloose was incredibly silly, but the film earned better than average reviews and was a huge hit back in 1984. If you adjust for inflation, the film made close to $200 million. There's almost no chance this film will do the same. There have been plenty of dancing films that have come out, but most have been little more than midlevel hits. There's also a problem with just being a remake. The filmmakers have to walk a tight line between living up to the original film, while adapting it to a more modern audience. I'm also concerned about the behind-the-scenes problems. The film went through a couple of leading actors and a director before filming started, which is not a good sign. The fact that their lead is a professional dancer helps, but the fact that he has no real acting experience is a troubling sign.

That said, it will likely be the biggest hit of a soft week.

The Thing

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheThingMovie.net
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 14th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.
Source: Remake of a Remake that was Based on a Book or perhaps a Prequel to a Remake that was Based on a Book
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Alien Invasion, Doppleganger, One Location, Marooned, Foreign Language, Delayed Sequel, Prequel, Changling, and more
Directed By: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen, Davetta Sherwood, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $35 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

One of two remakes opening this week, depending on how you look at things. Some consider this film a remake of the 1982 film of the same name. Others consider it a prequel of that film. Of the three films opening wide this week, this one has the most buzz going for it, but it's internet buzz and we've seen many times in the past that internet buzz doesn't translate into ticket sales all the time. Also, despite being seen as one of the best remakes of all time, the 1982 film wasn't a big box office hit. If this version of The Thing doesn't make more during its opening weekend than the earlier one made in total, it will be a bit of a disappointment. It won't be a total shock, on the other hand.

The Thing is one of the few wide releases this month I'm really looking forward to, but I fear it will struggle at the box office. Maybe I'm being pessimistic. Maybe the proximity to Halloween will help as people will be looking for a horror film to check out. Maybe it will be a surprise hit.

Weekend of October 21st, 2011

We getting close to Halloween, so it should come as no surprise that the biggest release of the week is another horror film. However, I'm a little troubled Paranormal Activity 3 is just replacing Saw. By that I mean next year I will be saying, "If it's Halloween, it must be Paranormal Activity." There's a chance the films will become routine and moviegoers will lose interest. Hopefully this won't be the case this year, because we need the win at the box office. The only other major release for the weekend is The Three Musketeers 3D, but while that film has a monster $100 million budget, the buzz is terrible. Also opening this week is The Mighty Macs, which might not even open wide. This weekend last year saw Paranormal Activity 2 open with just over $40 million. There's a small chance Paranormal Activity 3 will match that opening. The only other opening of note was Hearafter, which expanded wide with $12 million. The Three Musketeers 3D should open with that much. The Mighty Macs might not make that much in total. Perhaps if last week's batch of new releases is better than expected, we might pull out a victory this week, but I'm not overly optimistic. Last Minute Update: Johnny English Reborn was moved up to the 21st, but it is also not opening truly wide.

Johnny English Reborn

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JohnnyEnglishReborn.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action violence, rude humor, some language and brief sensuality.
Source: Sequel to an Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action / Comedy
Keywords: Out of Retirement, Secret Agent, Hitmen, Spoof, and more
Directed By: Oliver Parker
Starring: Rowan Atkinson, Gillian Anderson, Rosamund Pike, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $27 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Some people here might be asking themselves, "Why are they making a Sequel to a film that bombed?" The answer is simple, it didn't bomb, at least not worldwide. Johnny English may have only made $28 million here on a $45 million budget, but it made $130 million internationally, which is more than enough to pay for itself. So far, Johnny English Reborn is showing considerable growth internationally, which could bode very well for its run here. On the other hand, the first film earned bad reviews and it looks like the second won't be much better, and there may also be enough bad will that people won't even give it a chance. Back to the original hand, the film has already matching its production budget internationally and it has barely begun its international run. So it will be a hit no matter what happens here.

Last Minute Update: Despite nearly $100 million internationally, Johnny English Reborn was moved up to the 21st at the last minute and it is also not opening truly wide. That puts added strain on the film's box office chances and it's potential has been lowered to $20 million.

The Mighty Macs

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheMightyMacs.com
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Release Date: October 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: G for General Admission.
Source: Original Screenplay / Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Baseketball, Inspirational Coach, Religious, Based on Real Life Events, Underdogs, and more
Directed By: Tim Chambers
Starring: Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, Ellen Burstyn, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $7 million
Box Office Potential: $10 million

Just a quick note about this movie, as I'm not sure it will open wide. In fact, given the distributor, it's unlikely. Freestyle Releasing's last truly wide release was The Haunting of Molly Hartley, which opened more than three years ago. If it does open wide, the combination of inspirational real life sports story and the religious theme could help it with churchgoers. Perhaps if Courageous is a hit, they will have an easier time convincing theater owners to book the film. However, even then it will struggle to get to $20 million in total. Plus, there's a good chance that the film won't open wide and it will barely made a peep at the box office.

Paranormal Activity 3

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: ParanormalMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely aiming for R
Source: Sequel / Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings, Prequel, Found Footage, Prologue, and more
Directed By: Henrey Joost and Ariel Schulman
Starring: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden, and others
Production Budget: Reported $4 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

The latest installment in the Paranormal Activity franchise is a prequel focusing on Katie and Kristi while they were kids. While early reviews are promising, I don't think it will make as much as the first two, but it should still be one of the biggest hits of the month and should make more than enough to show a profit, possibly on opening weekend. It will depend on the P&A budget and how large a share of the box office the studio gets.

The Three Muskateers 3D

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Three-Musketeers-3D.com
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: October 21st, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong brutal violence including a sexual attack, menace, some sexual content, and pervasive language.
Source: Remake / Base on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Revenge, Political, Religious, Royalty, Streampunk, Ensemble, 3D, and more
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Christoph Waltz, Freddie Fox, Juno Temple, and more
Production Budget: Reported at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

This is one of the most expensive films of the fall, having cost $100 million to make. However, the director, Paul W.S. Anderson, has never made a $100 million film. Also, the studio, Summit, has never released a $100 million movie outside of the Twilight franchise. The film has a big cast and combined they've made plenty of huge hits, but I don't think there are enough that are solid box office draws on their own to really carry the movie. Finally, the buzz is bad. Really bad. Some are saying this will be the biggest financial misstep of the fall and the early reviews suggest the buzz is right.

On the other hand, with 3D ticket prices and an international cast and setting, it should perform better internationally and could eventually break even.

Weekend of October 28th, 2011

The final weekend of October will likely be better than the same weekend last year, because last year Halloween landed on a Sunday, which hurt the box office pretty badly. (Not as badly as when it lands on a Friday or Saturday, but it certainly isn't helpful.) Additionally, there was only one wide release this time last year, Saw 7, which struggled compared to the franchise average. This time around, there are four wide releases, although I'm not entirely sure all of them will open truly wide. And even if all four of them do open truly wide, one or two of them will likely really struggle at the box office. The best bet for box office success is In Time, which is a high concept action film. The Rum Diary is almost a spiritual sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Anonymous feels more like an art house film than a multiplex blockbuster, but very early reviews suggest it could earn some Awards Season buzz. Finally, Johnny English Reborn is a sequel to a film that failed to connect with audiences here when it was released eight years ago. Last Minute Update: Puss in Boots was moved from the first week in November to the last week in October. While it should easily be the biggest hit of the week, the short notice could hurt its box office chances.

Anonymous

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Anonymous-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: October 28th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and sexual content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Political, Royalty, Conspiracy Theory, Narration, Costume Drama, Based on an UNTRUE story / Inspired by Real Events, Prologue, Writers, Performing Arts, and more
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Rhys Ifans, Joely Richardson, Rafe Spall, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $34 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

This is a film that's going to need amazing reviews to be a hit. It's a costume drama based on the conspiracy theory that William Shakespeare didn't write his own plays. This is something that might do well with art house crowds, but I'm not sure how much mainstream appeal it has. If it can earn some Awards Season buzz, then it could be a surprise hit. The early reviews are promising, but "early" is the key word here. If the film ends up being an Awards Season contender, or even a favorite, then it could double or even triple the above box office potential. On the other hand, if the early reviews turn out to be an aberration, it could open low and collapse quickly.

In Time

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: InTimeMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: October 28th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality and partial nudity, and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Corrupt Cops, Dystopian Future, Gangs, Suicide, Digital Cinematography, Fugitive, and more
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Arguably the only sure thing for the weekend, but now that I've said that, I've probably cursed the film. The film is set in a dystopian future were the gene that causes aging has been identified and can be turned off. After you hit 25 years old, you never age, but you have to pay for every minute of time. The rich can practically live forever, while the poor have to work themselves to death just to live another day. Justin Timberlake is one of the lower class workers living day-to-day when he meets a man (Matthew Bomer) who is over a century old, and still has a century left on his clock. When this man gives Justin Timberlake all of his time, he becomes a threat to powerful people and he has to go on the run.

It's a high concept film, which can be tough to sell to moviegoers. A good ad campaign backed up by good reviews could help it reach $100 million. On the other hand, people might think its silly and it will be D.O.A. Fortunately, the early buzz suggests it will be closer to the former than the latter, but it is still way too early to tell.

Puss in Boots

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PussInBootsTheMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 28th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG for some adventures, action and mild rude humor.
Source: Spin-Off
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Directing Yourself, 3-D, Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Prequel, Swashbuckler, Voiceover/Narration, and more
Directed By: Chris Miller
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million to $125 million
Box Office Potential: $150 million

Originally scheduled for a November 4th release, this film was moved up to October 28th mid-month. The studio could be hoping this will help stretch the holiday season one more week, but it is also the weekend right before Halloween, so its target audience may have their attention directed elsewhere. The Shrek spin-off should easily win the weekend and should have little trouble becoming the biggest hit release in October. That said, few expect it to match Shrek Forever After, which was the weakest installment in the franchise. Its international prospects are a lot better and unless it cost more to make than Shrek Forever After Did, it will break even before it reaches the home market.

The Rum Diary

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RumDiaryTheMovie.com
Distributor: FilmDistrict
Release Date: October 28th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R for language, brief drug use and sexuality
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: News, Writers, White Collar Crime, Addiction, Relationships Gone Wrong, and more
Directed By: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $45 million to $65 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Johnny Depp stars in his second Hunter S. Thompson adaptation, the first being Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That film earned mixed reviews and never made a major impact at the box office. This film will probably earn better reviews, although it is way too early to know for sure. Meanwhile, its box office chances are also better for a few reasons. Johnny Depp's box office drawing power is higher now than it was then. Also, It will have better support from the distributor, FilmDistrict, which is trying to make a mark at the box office. On the other hand, FilmDistrict's average box office is only about $35 million as of this weekend. (Drive is still in theaters, so that average is going up.) I don't know if this film will improve on that number or not, and given its reported production budget, that's a bad sign.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, The Rum Diary, Puss in Boots, Footloose, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, The Big Year, Anonymous, Real Steel, Johnny English Reborn, In Time, Paranormal Activity 3, The Ides of March, The Mighty Macs