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2015 Preview: October

October 1st, 2015

The Martian

September ended on a record note with the debut of Hotel Transylvania 2. Additionally, there was great depth and 2015's lead over 2014 grew to nearly $500 million. How do things look going forward? The month starts out with The Martian, which should have no trouble becoming the biggest hit of the month and might even top $200 million. On the other hand, no other film is expected to get to $100 million. There's only one or two that will even come close. Fortunately, last October was very similar with one $100 million hit, Gone Girl, while two other films came close, Annabelle and Fury. It looks like it will be up to the depth films from both years to determine which year comes out on top.

Weekend of October 2nd, 2015

The Martian

There is only one true wide release, The Martian. It is expected to be the biggest hit of the month and may in fact make double its nearest competitor. It is also earning stunning reviews and might be an early contender for Oscar glory. There is one other film opening this weekend, The Walk, but it is opening in limited release, before expanding nationwide next week. Likewise, Sicario opened in limited release a couple of weeks ago and is scheduled to expand wide this week. However, it is already in the top ten, so it is too late to do a preview for a film that has been out in theaters for two weeks. This weekend last year, Gone Girl and Annabelle opened with a combined $75 million. I don't think The Martain will open that fast; however, Hotel Transylvania 2 will still be doing well at the box office, so their combined numbers should give 2015 the edge.

The Martian

The Martian poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheMartianMovie.com
Distributor: Fox
Release Date: October 2nd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Space Program, Mars, Marooned, Rescue, and more
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Drew Goddard and Andy Weir
Starring: Matt Damon and others
Production Budget: Reported at $108 million
Box Office Potential: $190 million

Matt Damon plays one of a group of astronauts on a mission to Mars. While the mission starts as a success, during the mission, he is separated from the group, presumed dead, and left behind. He then has to use the remaining gear to try and survive, and also try and contact the Earth so he can be rescued.

On a side note, this is the second movie in a row for Matt Damon where he is stuck alone on a planet. I say if it happens a third time, we just leave him there. He has to learn not to get himself in these situations.

The Martian is earning stellar reviews and incredible buzz. There's a chance this film will be a major Oscar player. Although, as a Sci-fi film, it is more likely to pick up a lot of technical nominations, but will be ignored for the more prestigious awards. Too many Oscar voters are snobs when it comes to genre films. These factors should help it open strong and last in theaters a long time. $200 million is a solid goal, but I'm not convinced it will get there.

Weekend of October 9th, 2015

Pan

There is also only one wide release this week, Pan, which began its international run with a third place debut in Australia. That doesn't bode well for its debut here. The Walk is expanding wide after a week in IMAX. This is the same plan as Everest, but that didn't turn out so well. On the other hand, The Walk does have amazing early reviews. Also opening this week is Steve Jobs, which opens in limited release this week before expanding wide on the 23rd. I think. There seems to be confusion on its release date. This weekend last year, Dracula Untold was the biggest new release. It wasn't a box office hit, but still bigger than Pan appears to be. Unless The Martian's legs are really good, 2015 will lose in the year-over-year comparison. I'd call it a coin-toss.

Pan

Pan poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: PanMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 9th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Origin Story, Orphan, Pirates, 3-D, and more
Directed By: Joe Wright
Written By: James M. Barrie and Jason Fuchs
Starring: Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, reported at $150 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

Pan looks like this month's big "Who thought this was a good idea?" movie. I know Disney has been able to turn a number of their classic cartoons into live-action films and have earned a lot of success in this sub-genre. So it makes sense that other studios would try to capitalize on this trend. However, we've already had a live-action Peter Pan movie. It was called Hook and it was thoroughly mediocre, to be kind. Pan's early reviews are better, but still well below the overall positive level. Worse still, its buzz isn't just quiet, which would be bad enough, but it is actively negative. Maybe it will be a surprise hit, as family films are notoriously hard to judge. However, I wouldn't bet on it. This could be one of the worse flops of the year for Warner Bros. and it is not like the studio has been putting out hit after hit.

Last minute update: The reviews are trending downwards and if it keeps dropping, its box office potential might drop along with it.

The Walk

The Walk poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheWalkMovie.com
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: September 30th, 2015 (IMAX)
Release Date: October 9th, 2015 (Expands Wide)
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements involving perilous situations, and for some nudity, language, brief drug references and smoking.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: New York City, Extreme Sports, World Record Attempt, Biography, 3D, and more
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Philippe Petit, Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others
Production Budget: $35 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

The Walk is a film based on real life events in which someone does an extreme sport, of sorts. This is very similar to Everest. Additionally, like Everest, The Walk is opening on IMAX a week before its wide release. It is impossible to know if opening in IMAX hurt Everest, because we can't look at an alternative dimension where it opened wide right away. However, it really doesn't look like it worked. The Walk has earned better early reviews. On the other hand, I think a movie about a disaster on Everest would be easier to market than a movie about a tightrope walker attempting to walk across the two World Trade Center towers. Overall I think the factors balance out and the two movies will make about the same at the box office. The Walk did cost a lot less to make, so a $50 million domestic run will help it become profitable a lot sooner.

Weekend of October 16th, 2015

Goosebumps

The third weekend of the month has three wide releases. The first week there was one wide release. The second weekend there were two. And the third has three. Does that mean week four has four wide releases? Stay tuned. Of the three wide releases coming out this week, I think Goosebumps will be the biggest hit. It is a live action family film and those rarely have breakout success, but it won't need to reach $100 million to become the biggest hit of the week. Its biggest competition is from Bridge of Spies, which reunites Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for the first time in just over a decade. Unfortunately, the buzz isn't as strong as I would expect, given their track record at the box office. Finally, there's Crimson Peak, a horror film directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I want this to be the biggest hit of the week, mainly because I really want At the Mountains of Madness to be made into a movie and I think Guillermo Del Toro is one of the few directors that could pull it off. Meanwhile, this weekend last year, Fury earned first place with just under $24 million. I'm hoping the two biggest film both open with $25 million giving 2015 the win in the year-over-year comparison. It could be close.

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BridgeOfSpies.com
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: October 16th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Thriller
Keywords: Spies, CIA, Cold War, 1960s, Inspired by a True Story, and more
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, and Matt Charman
Starring: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $50 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Tom Hanks plays a lawyer sent to negotiate with release of downed American pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was flying a U2 spy plane over the Soviet Union. The film is written by the Coen Brothers and is directed by Steven Spielberg. Why is this movie not earning a ton of buzz? It should certainly be earning some Awards Season buzz, a lackluster trailer seems to have killed any talk of Oscar glory. This has also dampened the film's box office chances, but there are two weeks for that to change. Hopefully it does.

Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: CrimsonPeakMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 16th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, some sexual content and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Haunting, Haunted House, Isolation Horror, Newlyweds, Costume Drama, and more
Directed By: Guillermo Del Toro
Written By: Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $55 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Tom Hiddleston takes his new wife, Mia Wasikowska, to his family home, where his sister, Jessica Chastain, also lives. However, this home has many dark secrets. This is a horror film opening just two weeks before Halloween, which is a great release date. It is also the first horror film opening in October and is co-written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who is an amazing visionary. Unfortunately, these visions tend to be expensive to put onto film and horror films rarely have breakout success. Additionally, the film will have direct competition just a week later when Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension debuts. Granted, that franchise is clearly not as strong as it once was, but it will still take away some of its target audience. On the high end, it could have a run similar to Mama, but that's probably asking too much. It will likely have to wait till the home market to break even, if it gets there.

Goosebumps

Goosebumps poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SonyPictures.com/Goosebumps
Distributor: Sony
Release Date: October 16th, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor.
Source: Based on a Book
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Young Adult Adaptation, Monsters, Creature Feature, Killer Inanimate Objects, Werewolves, Yeti, Fiction / Reality Crossover, and more
Directed By: Rob Letterman
Written By: Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, and R.L. Stine
Starring: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minette, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, reported at $85 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million

A horror movie aimed at kids. There are not a lot of movies like this made, which could mean it is an under-served market. Or it could mean there are not enough people in the target audience to make movies like this profitable. Additionally, the movie cost $85 million to make, which is a lot for a live action kids movie. Goosebumps reminds me of two films the most: Gulliver's Travels and Pixels. I'm not expecting much when it comes to the film's reviews, but it appears to be the biggest film of the weekend. Not sure if it will be big enough to break even any time soon.

Weekend of October 23rd, 2015

Steve Jobs

The fourth weekend of October is the busiest with five films opening or expanding wide. Five. And that doesn't include Burnt, which is probably opening in limited release, but might open semi-wide. This is just way too busy and the competition is going to kill a couple of films. The biggest film is ... your guess is as good as mine. Steve Jobs should be the biggest hit, assuming it does well enough in limited release that it does actually expand wide this week, but that's not a sure thing. Besides that, the rest of the films look terrible. Combined they might not reach $100 million. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and The Last Witch Hunter are going after a very similar target demographic, which will likely result in neither film doing particularly well at the box office. Rock the Kasbah is likely opening barely over 2,000 theaters, perhaps not even that many. Meanwhile, Jem and the Holograms looks like the weakest wide release of the month. This weekend last year there were only two wide releases, Ouija and John Wick. Neither film earned more than $20 million, but five films overall earned more than $10 million. We are looking for results that are about this same this year, but a little weaker.

Jem and the Holograms

Jem and the Holograms poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JemTheMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 23rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language.
Source: Based on a Toy
Major Genre: Musical
Keywords: Musicians, Big Break, Orphan, Young Child Dealing with a Death of a Parent, Inventor, Robots, and more
Directed By: Jon M. Chu
Written By: Christy Marx and Ryan Landels
Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

This film is earning some of the worst buzz of any October release. It is based on a 1980s cartoon of the same name, but the first trailer made it seem like nearly all of the major plot elements of the cartoon were dropped and replaced with a standard big break / the cost of fame plot. This has led to a lot of fans of the cartoon to be upset at the movie, while the movie itself doesn't look good enough to draw in audiences on its own. On the positive side. It only cost $5 million to make, so even if it bombs completely, the studio won't lose a lot of money.

The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheLastWitchHunter.com/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: October 23rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Action
Keywords: Witches, New York City, Plague, Good vs. Evil, and more
Directed By: Breck Eisner
Written By: Burk Sharpless, Matt Sazama, and Cory Goodman
Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Julie Engelbrecht, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

This movie stars Vin Diesel and is based in part on his D&D character. That's a really unique origin story for movie and part of me wants it to thrive for just that reason. On the other hand, that seems unlikely. Outside the Fast and the Furious and the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises, he hasn't had a $100 million hit in a decade. That film was The Pacifier, while this film feels more like Babylon A.D., which bombed in theaters. Add in the competition and the quiet buzz and this film could bomb. Even the high end has it barely becoming a midlevel hit.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ParanormalMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 23rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language and some horror violence.
Source: Original Screenplay / Sequel
Major Genre: Horror
Keywords: Hauntings, Haunted House, Found Footage, and more
Directed By: Gregory Plotkin
Written By: Jason Harry Pagan and Oren Peli
Starring: Katie Featherston and others
Production Budget: Estimated at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

The Paranormal Activity franchise started with a $100 million hit. However, by the fourth film, the domestic numbers fell to just over $50 million. The spin-off, The Marked Ones, performed even weaker. Granted, that was a January release and this is an October release, so I think this movie will bounce back a little. But I still think it will be the weakest film in the core franchise. It might be weak enough to kill the franchise for good. It doesn't matter that these movies cost $5 million to make, because it costs $20 million to advertise, so less than $40 million domestically and $80 million worldwide might not be enough to justify further installments.

Rock the Kasbah

Rock the Kasbah poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: RockTheKasbahMovie.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: October 23rd, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Musicians, Singers, Talent Agent, Afghanistan, War, Afghanistan War, Big Break, Road Trip, Comeback, Reality TV, and more
Directed By: Barry Levinson
Written By: Mitch Glazer
Starring: Bill Murray, Leem Lubany, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $15 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

Bill Murray stars as a washed up talent agent, who takes his last remaining client, Zooey Deschanel, on a USO tour in Afghanistan. When she learns the details of the tour, she bails on him taking his money and his passport. While trying to make it home, he meets a young Afghan lady, Leem Lubany, who has real talent. He tries to help her get on TV so she can become a star.

Barry Levinson had back-to-back monster hits in the late 1980s. Since then, he hasn't had the same level of success. He hasn't even come close as a director. On the one hand, I don't think this film will be his return to form. On the other hand, St. Vincent had similar low-key buzz, but it earned more than $40 million domestically after opening in limited release. This film has a shot at doing the same, but I wouldn't bet on it. Assuming it opens truly wide, it should top its production budget and might do well enough to break even early in its home market run.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SteveJobsTheFilm.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 9th, 2015 (Limited)
Release Date: October 23rd, 2015 (Expands Wide)
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Source: Based on a Factual Book
Major Genre: Drama
Keywords: Biography, Inventor, Dysfunctional Family, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and more
Directed By: Danny Boyle
Written By: Walter Isaacson and Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and others
Production Budget: Reported at $30 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

Out of all of the films on this list, this one might be the hardest to predict. The film is opening in limited release on the 9th, with a planned wide expansion on the 23rd. This is never an easy path to box office success and there's a chance it will stumble out of the gate and never expand truly wide. That would result in a box office potential of less than $10 million. On the other hand, the early reviews are amazing and there's some talk of Michael Fassbender earning an Oscar for his performance. If that's true, then the film could have incredible legs and top $100 million, after a re-release to coincide with the Oscars. Anything in-between is possible, but saying "$10 million to $100 million" isn't really acceptable, so I'm going with $75 million.

Weekend of October 30th, 2015

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Halloween is a dead zone for the movie business, as there are so many families going out trick or treating that even those not interested in dressing up want to stay at home. This year, Halloween lands on the Saturday. Ouch. There are only two films opening wide this week: Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Our Brand is Crisis. The former is a horror / comedy, which makes sense and Halloween gives horror films a boost. Assuming it didn't cost a lot to make, it could pay for its production budget opening weekend. On the other hand, Our Brand is Crisis just looks like a mess being dumped in theaters. It does have more star power, but that's the only thing going for it. As for this weekend last year, only two films earned more than $10 million, including newcomer Nightcrawler. I think 2015 should beat that.

Our Brand is Crisis

Our Brand is Crisis poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: OurBrandIsCrisisMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 30th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references.
Source: Based on a Documentary
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Political, Political Campaign, Bolivia, Professional Rivalry, and more
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Written By: Peter Straughan
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Sandra Bullock plays a political consultant who goes to Bolivia to help the current president win re-election. Her nemesis, Billy Bob Thornton, joins the other side's campaign. Sandra Bullock is earning some early praise for her performance, but the rest of the movie is being pummeled by critics. Additionally, this is a terrible weekend to release a film. There's almost no chance the film will become even a midlevel hit.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ScoutsAndZombiesMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: October 30th, 2015
MPAA Rating: R for zombie violence and gore, sexual material, graphic nudity, and language throughout.
Source: Original Screenplay
Major Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Zombies and more
Directed By: Christopher Landon
Written By: Christopher Landon, Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, and Lona Williams
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, and others
Production Budget: Unknown, estimated at $5 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

A horror comedy about three friends who are about to go on their last Scout camping trip when zombies attack their town. Horror comedies are tough to pull off, because it is really hard to balance the comedy and the horror. Additionally, even when they do work, there's not a large enough audience for them to really thrive. It should do well its first two days, but once Halloween is over, it will quickly fall down the chart and likely won't last long in theaters.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Hotel Transylvania 2, Crimson Peak, Pan, Everest, Goosebumps, The Martian, The Walk, Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Bridge of Spies, Burnt, The Last Witch Hunter, Rock the Kasbah, Our Brand is Crisis, Jem and the Holograms, Steve Jobs, Sicario, Fast and the Furious, Paranormal Activity, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Danny Boyle, Jessica Chastain, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Guillermo Del Toro, Zooey Deschanel, Vin Diesel, Michael Fassbender, Katie Featherston, Jason Fuchs, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Gordon Green, Garrett Hedlund, Tom Hiddleston, Kate Hudson, Hugh Jackman, Rob Letterman, Barry Levinson, Rooney Mara, Bill Murray, Oren Peli, Seth Rogen, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, Ridley Scott, Amanda Seyfried, Steven Spielberg, Billy Bob Thornton, Mia Wasikowska, Elijah Wood, Joe Wright, Robert Zemeckis, Aaron Sorkin, Christopher Landon, Peter Straughan, Matthew Robbins, Darren Lemke, Gregory Plotkin, Mitch Glazer, Cory Goodman, Christopher Browne, Drew Goddard, Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Breck Eisner, Jon M. Chu, Odeya Rush, Sarah Dumont, Stefanie Scott, Tye Sheridan, James M. Barrie, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Logan Miller, Leem Lubany, Dylan Minette, Rose Leslie, Aubrey Peeples, Matt Charman, Ryan Landels, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Walter Isaacson, Jason Harry Pagan, Andy Weir, Julie Engelbrecht, Levi Miller, Philippe Petit, R.L. Stine