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2010 Preview: October

October 1st, 2010

September is nearly over and the Fall box office season is about to begin in earnest. September wasn't too bad this year, with more films matching or exceeding expectations than missing them, and we managed to keep pace with last year, more or less. Can October do the same? Well, last year there was only one $100 million hit, Couples Retreat (not counting Paranormal Activity, which opened in September). We might not see any film hit $100 million this time around. In fact, we might not even see any that come all that close. On the other hand, there were also five wide releases that clearly bombed last year, and on that end, 2010 looks a lot better. Not every film that opens over the next five weekends will be a mid-level hit or better, but most should get there.

Weekend of October 1st, 2010

It's the beginning of October, so it should come as no surprise that we are starting to see an influx of horror films opening up. However, while there are two films with supernatural overtones debuting this week, the widest release is The Social Network, which could lead the way at the box office. On the other hand, the buzz surrounding Let Me In is huge and has been huge for months. With amazing early reviews, this could be the film to beat. Then there's the oft-delayed Case 39, which may or may not open truly wide and will likely not make much of an impact at the box office. It will be interesting to see where the overall box office winds up compared to last year, but it shouldn't be above or below by too wide a margin.

Case 39

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Case39Movie.com
Distributor: Paramount Vantage
Release Date: October 1st, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for violence and terror including disturbing images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Demons, Dysfunctional Family, Scary Kids, and more
Directed By: Christian Alvart
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Bradley Cooper, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $27 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

The earliest story we have for this film is nearly four years old. Back then, the release date was August 12th of 2007. That should tell you a lot about the film's chances at the box office. The film suffered through a number of release date changes before it was pulled from the schedule for a long, long time. Now it is finally opening, but it might not be opening truly wide. None of this suggests the studio has any real faith in the film.

It's hard to blame them.

After all, the film has been released in a number of international markets and it hasn't exactly been a major hit in many. It was a middling hit in Mexico and Spain, but struggled in Russia and Brazil, and bombed just about everywhere else. Add in reviews that are just shy of tragic and this movie has little hope at the box office. In fact, it could open below the Mendoza Line and disappear before Halloween. Even the best case scenario has it failing to be a midlevel hit.

Let Me In

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LetMeIn-Movie.com/
Distributor: Overture Films
Release Date: October 1st, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, language and a brief sexual situation.
Source: Remake
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Vampire, Scary Kids, Foreign Language Remake, and more
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Kode Smith-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Let the Right One In is an amazing movie that should please even those that are not fans of Vampire movies, or even horror films in general. Remaking it after just two years seemed like a really bad idea, even if the original was a foreign language film, which limited its target audience.

However, initial skepticism melted away when it was learned Matt Reeves would direct and the cast would include up-and-comers like Chloe Grace Moretz and Kode Smith-McPhee, as well as veterans like Richard Jenkins. Skepticism turned to amazing buzz and now the early reviews are in and they are 100% positive with many critics saying it is better than the original.

So why is the potential box office so low? First of all, there is a chance the early reviews are overly complimentary; after all, studios tend to allow their films to be reviewed by those critics they think will give their film a good review in order to set the narrative. (For instance, horror films tend to be shown to genre critics first.) Secondly, it is being released by Overture Films, which is a new studio that hasn't had a lot of hits so far. Thirdly, the film is only opening in 2000 theaters, which is barely enough to be considered truly wide.

Finally, this is a geek film, and like Kick Ass, Scott Pilgram vs. The World, and countless other films have shown, when it comes to geek films, massive hype and strong reviews are just not enough to guarantee success.

The Social Network

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheSocialNetwork-Movie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: October 1st, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, drug and alcohol use and language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Internet, Entrepreneurs and Inventors, and more
Directed By: David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Rooney Mara, Justin Timberlake, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

This film was directed by David Fincher and based on a script by Aaron Sorkin, who both have amazing track records. Also, it has an amazing cast of young actors, including a few that are on the precipice of breakout success. And so far its reviews are perfect! So why am I not excited by this movie?

Perhaps it's because I have zero interest in Facebook. I don't have a Facebook account, or any social media account. I also don't text people, instant message people. I don't even have a cell phone.

They need to create an Anti-Social site where you can send messages, but the only two choices to respond are "Ignore" and "Block".

But my personal apathy aside, the buzz for this movie is strong and the reviews suggest it will have mainstream appeal. In fact, there are some who think it will be the first, and perhaps the only $100 million hit of the month. I don't think that's likely. David Fincher doesn't have a lot of $100 million hits under his belt, and even his films that are critical successes usually have trouble at the box office. Fight Club and Zodiac are prime examples of that.

Maybe it will hit the century mark, but I think becoming a midlevel hit is far more likely.

Weekend of October 8th, 2010

Huh... There are some weeks where it is really hard to figure out what film will be the big hit of the week, and this is one of them. There are four candidates: Buried, Life As We Know It, My Soul to Take, and Secretariat. Secretariat probably has the best shot at box office success; however, the studio has had an inconsistent year. Life As We Know It stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, who are not exactly box office powerhouses. My Soul to Take has had a troubled production, including cast changes, delays, re-shoots, release date changes, name changes, etc., and all of this suggests there's almost no chance it will be a hit, even with Halloween boosting the box office chances of all horror films. Meanwhile, Buried already opened in limited release, and while it is the film I'm most interested in seeing, I don't think it will be the big hit. Worse still, this time last year saw the release of Couples Retreat, the biggest hit of the month. Odd are this will be a week we will want to forget.

Buried

Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ExperienceBuried.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 24th, 2010 (limited)
Release Date: October 8th, 2010 (expands wide)
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Suspense
Keywords: Underground, Surprise Twist, Kidnap, Rescue, and more
Directed By: Rodrigo Cortés
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Production Budget: Reported at $3 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

Ryan Reynolds stars as Paul Conroy, a man that wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin without any idea how he got there. Now he has to figure out who was behind this, and more importantly, how he can get out.

Buried already opened in limited release and did very well for this type of release opening with $100,000 in 11 theaters. It also earned excellent reviews, including more than a few comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock. That said, it is still going to be a hard film to sell to a wide audience, and opening in limited release is tricky to pull off. If it struggles during its second weekend of release, many theater owners will balk at booking it when it expands.

Assuming it can expand truly wide, it should be able to ride its reviews to some measure of success, especially when compared to its miniscule production budget. It could even see its word-of-mouth carry it far enough to become a solid midlevel hit. But if it sees a sharp drop-off during its second weekend of release, it will disappear quickly. The office potential, listed above, is a weighted average of the two extremes.

Life As We Know It

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: LifeAsWeKnowItMovie.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 8th, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material, language and some drug content.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Romance, Unexpected Families, and more
Directed By: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel
Production Budget: Estimated at $30 to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel star as two people with mutual friends who set them up on a date. A date which goes very, very poorly. However, when their mutual friend dies, they are informed that she left them in charge of raising her newborn baby. Now they are forced to be together, despite their incredible desire not to see each other ever again.

Since this is a romantic comedy, you probably can guess what happens next.

Neither Katherine Heigl nor Josh Duhamel have a strong track record when it comes to critics and I expect this film to struggle in that department. On the other hand, Katherine Heigl's last four films have averaged nearly $100 million. Josh Duhamel hasn't been as successful, with more than 80% of his lifetime box office coming from one franchise. Split the average of the two and you get a midlevel hit, nothing more, nothing less.

My Soul to Take

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: IAmRogue.com/MySoulToTake
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 8th, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, and pervasive language including sexual references.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Serieal Killer, 3D, maybe Hauntings, maybe Reincarnation, maybe possessed, and likely more
Directed By: Wes Craven
Starring: Max Thieriot and a bunch of teenage victims
Production Budget: Reported at $50 million, but that seems high
Box Office Potential: $35 million

My Soul to Take was written and directed by Wes Craven. This should be really good news; however, it is causing an unfortunate side effect where a lot of people are calling this film a Nightmare clone. (One of the characters has nightmares, which as far as I can tell is the only connection.) Given the release date and the pedigree, if it earns good reviews, it could be a sizable hit, at least for the genre. On the other hand, if the studio had faith in the movie, why did it take so long to come out?

There were some delays in filming, it was shot in 2008, there were re-shoots in 2009, etc. I'm not sure the studio is exactly on board with this film. Add in the competition and it could get squeezed out at the box office.

Secretariat

Trailer: Click Here
Official Site: Disney.com/Secretariat
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: October 8th, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Miscellaneous Sports, Horse Racing, Animal Lead?
Directed By: Randall Wallace
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Otto Thorwarth, and a horse
Production Budget: Estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Diane Lane stars as Penny Chenery, who takes over the family horse stable when her father becomes ill. She then turns it around, with the help of Secretariat, a horse; John Malkovich, the trainer; and Otto Thorwarth, the jockey.

It's an inspirational story that could draw in a lot of audience members. On the other hand, it is being released by Disney, which has has had two $1 billion movies, and a bunch of disappointments. Also, perhaps more relevantly, it is about horse racing. Sports movies tend to do as well as the sports they represent, and horse racing is way down the list of sports that have major box office drawing power. The director only made two previous films, The Man in the Iron Mask and We Were Soldiers, neither of which were major box office hits. Diane Lane has been more miss than hit at the box office lately, as has John Malkovich.

Perhaps if the film earns Oscar worthy reviews it will be a hit. However, there's also a chance it will disappear just like Amelia did last year.

Weekend of October 15th, 2010

There are possibly just two wide releases this week, both of which could be sizable hits. Jackass 3D will likely win the weekend; in fact, it could be the biggest hit of the month. The prospects for Red are not as rosy, but it should have much better legs. Meanwhile, Conviction may or may not open in wide release. Jackass will likely top last year's number one film, but the overall box office might be in a little trouble.

Conviction

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com/Conviction
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: October 15th, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent images.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Courtroom Drama, Wrongfully Convicted, and more
Directed By: Tony Goldwyn
Starring: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $18 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

One word: Amelia.

The similarities are many. Both star Hilary Swank, both are based on real life events, both are opening at roughly the same time of year, both are clearly Oscar-bait, and both are opening with uncertain futures. Amelia earned terrible reviews, opened in select cities, and disappeared rather quickly. I fear this is the fate in store for Conviction. It should earn better reviews, but there's also a greater chance it will open in limited release and its reviews won't be strong enough for it to thrive.

On the other hand, if it does earn Oscar-worthy reviews, it could be a midlevel hit.

Jackass 3D

Trailer: Click Here
Official Site: JackassMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 15th, 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Very Likely R
Source: Based on TV
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Reality TV and 3D
Directed By: Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville and his roving band of idiots
Production Budget: Reported at $37 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

For most people, hearing the word Jackass is all that's needed to describe this film's plot, box office potential, and their personal opinions of the film. If any film is critic-proof, this one is it.

This film is in 3D, which means it will likely top its predecessors at the box office, perhaps by enough to reach the century mark. Since it might be the only film opening this month to get there, I'm rooting for it, but I'm not convinced it will get there. It's a tossup for sure.

Red

Trailer: Click Here
Official Site: Red-TheMovie.com
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: October 15th, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence and brief strong language.
Source: Based on a Comic
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agents, Hitman, D.C. Comics, Conspiracy Theory, and more
Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $50 to $70 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

While it is very unlikely this film will be the biggest hit of the weekend, it is the film I'm most interested in. Bruce Willis stars as a retired secret agent, whose quiet life is interrupted by an assassin. The only way to survive and protect his wife is to assemble his old team: Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich. And I do mean old. The four of them have a combined age of roughly 250 years.

I loved the trailer, but it might have a vibe that's a little too similar to The Losers, A-Team, and The Expendables. A special ops teams is betrayed and must assemble to find out who is responsible. Granted, the age is a rather unique factor, as is the acting talent, but I worry this won't be enough for it to thrive at the box office. And depending on how much it cost to make, it could be forced to rely on its international and home market numbers to break even.

Weekend of October 22nd, 2010

Just the one wide release this week, Paranormal Activity 2, although Hereafter might open wide this week, or it might open in limited release before expanding wide next week. While both have a supernatural angle to them, I don't think there will be a huge crossover audience, which will help maximize box office potential. This is good news, as this time last year was a disaster. Four wide releases, four disappointments. Make that one disappointment and three complete bombs.

Hereafter

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: Hereafter.WarnerBros.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 22nd, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Hauntings, Psychics, Disaster, Twins, and more
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile de France, Frankie and George McLaren, and more
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Clint Eastwood shows no signs of slowing down.

His latest film stars Matt Damon as a blue-collar worker, who just happens to see ghosts; Cécile de France as a journalist, who survived a tsunami, and Frankie and George McLaren, twins, one of whom was killed in a car crash. Their three stories intersect in minor ways building to the finale. Since Clint Eastwood has directed six Oscar nominated films in the past seven years, anything he touches is instantly an Awards Season player. This film is no different, but while the early reviews are promising, they are also way too early to make any prediction. If it does become one of the favorites, it would easily stick around in theaters long enough to reach $100 million at the box office.

On the other hand, there are some reports that it will open in limited release. If it does, the film could struggle just to make half the above prediction.

Paranormal Activity 2

Trailer: Coming Soon
Official Site: ParanormalActivity-Movie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 22nd, 2010
MPAA Rating: Not yet Rated - Like R
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings, Demons, Possession, and more
Directed By: Tod Williams
Starring: Katie Featherstone, maybe
Production Budget: Reported at $2.75 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Depending on how you measure these things, Paranormal Activity could be the most profitable movie ever made. There's no way the sequel will do the same. In fact, in terms of raw dollars it likey won't make the same amount. This film won't have the same novelty factor as the first, the expectations are much higher, etc. That said, even if it makes just half as much, it will be a huge financial success.

On the other hand, a drop-ff that great, might convince the studio to not press its luck and turn the franchise into a trilogy.

Weekend of October 29th, 2010

If it's Halloween, it must be Saw. This time last year, Saw VI opened the weekend before Halloween, so Saw 3D will have to compete with This Is It to make sure 2010 maintains its pace over 2009. I don't think it has what it takes.

Saw 3D

Trailer: Click Here
Official Site: Saw3DMovie.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: October 29th, 2010
MPAA Rating: R for equences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Serial Killer, 3D, Gratuitous Cameos, Torture Porn, and more
Directed By: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Practically everyone who has ever been in the franchise
Production Budget: Reported at $17 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

It's Saw. At this point that's practically all that needs to be said. Actually, there is one important note. This is supposedly the final installment in the franchise, but I'm not sure I believe them. If this beats expectations and returns the franchise to its glory days, I can almost guarantee there will be another film.


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Filed under: Monthly Preview, Secretariat, Life as We Know It, Case 39, Paranormal Activity 2, Let Me In, Saw 3D, The Social Network, Buried, Conviction, My Soul to Take, Red, Hereafter, Jackass 3D