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2016 Preview: September

September 1st, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

August continued to pad 2016’s lead over 2015 in the year-over-year comparison. It managed this feat almost entirely due to Suicide Squad, which is on pace to hit $300 million. The next best film was Sausage Party, which might make $100 million, if it gets a push over the top. September won’t be as strong as that. This is no surprise, as the month is one of the biggest dumping grounds on the calendar. That said, studios have been working to make the end of the month a lot more productive and there are a few potential hits. The biggest of these is The Magnificent Seven, which is expected to crack $100 million, maybe even $150 million. Meanwhile, Sully and Storks both have a limited chance at $100 million. Last September, the biggest release of the month was Hotel Transylvania 2 with pulled in $169.70 million. I don’t think The Magnificent Seven will match that, so we might need a surprise $100 million hit for 2016 to come out on top.

Weekend of September 2nd, 2016

Morgan

The month begins with the Labor Day long weekend, which is historically one of the slowest long weekend’s at the box office. It’s so slow that studios rarely even dump movies here. This year, there are two films opening wide, or semi-wide, during this weekend. Morgan is a horror film in a year where there have been a number of such films that have become solid midlevel hits. It has a much weaker release date, but it likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so it should still break even. The Light Between Oceans has a great cast and if it didn’t come out for a couple of months, I would think it was aiming for Oscars, but it is too soon for Awards Season and the estimated theater count is well below 2,000. This weekend last year, no movie made more $10 million over the three-day weekend. Morgan should top that mark and that should be enough to put 2016 head of 2015 in the year-over-year comparison.

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: facebook.com/TheLightBetweenOceans
Distributor: Walt Disney
Release Date: September 2nd, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sexual content.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Unexpected Families, Missing Child, Adopted Family, Australia, Death of a Spouse or Fiancée / Fiancé, 1920s
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Written By: Derek Cianfrance, M.L. Stedman
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander
Production Budget: Estimated at between $20 million and $30 million
Box Office Potential: $20 million

This film has a terrific cast and is based on a well-received book. It was even supposed to play at Cannes Film Festival. Everything about this suggests Oscar-bait. However, it was pulled from Cannes and given one of the worst release dates of the summer with an estimated theater count of just 1,500. This suggests it's busted Oscar-bait. There’s a chance it will miss the Mendoza Line ($2,000/theater); even the high end has it struggling to match its production budget.

Last Minute Update: The reviews are coming in and while they are improving, they are still below the overall positive level. This is about what I expected, so there’s no need to change our prediction.

Morgan

Morgan
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Foxmovies.com/Movies/Morgan
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 2nd, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for brutal violence, and some language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Scientific Breakthrough, Scientific Experiment Gone Awry, Corporate Malfeasance, Psychics
Directed By: Luke Scott
Written By: Seth W. Owen
Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor Joy
Production Budget: Estimated at $10 million to $20 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A corporate trouble-shooter is sent to a remote scientific lab after an accident there. The project the scientists were working on was an artificially created human being and she might have to decide to put it down. The film has an impressive cast and horror films are the one genre that tends to do well on Labor Day long weekend. Furthermore, the summer has been good to this type of film with several midlevel hits. On the other hand, perhaps we have reached market saturation and this film will bomb. I choose to be cautiously optimistic.

Last Minute Update: Like the above film, this film’s reviews are not good, but they are no weaker than expected.

Weekend of September 9th, 2016

Sully

The weekend after Labor Day is often the worst weekend of the year. (The weekend after Thanksgiving is usually the other contender for that title.) Despite this, there are three films opening wide this weekend. (The Disappointments Room was going to open wide, but it appears to have been down-graded to semi-wide / select theaters.) Sully feels like an Awards Season contender, but its release date says Busted Oscar-Bait. When the Bough Breaks is a thriller aimed at African-Americans. There have been several that have been released during this time of year and they tend to do well, or at least well compared to their budgets. Finally there’s The Wild Life, which is a second-tier animated film. Worse still, Storks opens just two weeks later and it already has better buzz. This weekend last year, the double-shot of The Perfect Guy and The Visit earned a combined $50 million. The new releases this year have a 50/50 shot of matching that figure.

Sully

Sully
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Sully-Movie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: September 9th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: In a Plane, Disaster, Autobiographical, 2000s, New York City
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Todd Komarnicki, Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow
Starring: Tom Hanks
Production Budget: Estimated at between $40 million and $60 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

This is the latest biopic directed by Clint Eastwood, who has made three such movies in a row. This includes American Sniper, which was easily the biggest hit in his career. Coincidentally, this is the third biopic for Tom Hanks since 2013. In this movie, he plays the real-life pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his plane in the Hudson saving everyone on board. However, afterward he was investigated by the experts and journalists who suggest that while everyone lived, what he did was the much riskier move. This nearly cost him his career. If this film was coming out in November, I would assume it would be an Oscar contender. But as a September release, it might fade before going anywhere. I’m going to be a little more optimistic than that, but I’m not overly bullish about its box office chances. If it does earn serious Awards Season buzz, then it could cross the century mark.

When the Bough Breaks

When the Bough Breaks
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: WhenTheBoughBreaks-Movie.com/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: September 9th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexuality/partial nudity, thematic elements, some disturbing images, and language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: African-American, Unconventional Pregnancies, Obsessive Love
Directed By: Jon Cassar
Written By: Jack Olsen
Starring: Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Jaz Sinclair
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

An African-American couple, John and Laura have trouble getting pregnant, so they turn to surrogate, Anna. However, Anna becomes obsessed with John and that puts the couple’s lives in danger.

Thrillers aimed at African-Americans have been an annual tradition for September and When the Bough Breaks looks to fill that role admirably. I don’t expect it to be a monster hit, but it could reach $50 million with a little luck.

The Wild Life

The Wild Life
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheWildLife.movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 9th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action/peril and some rude humor.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Marooned, Talking Animals, Animal Lead, Revenge, Pirates
Directed By: Ben Stassen, Vincent Kesteloot
Written By: Christopher Lee, Domonic Paris, Graham Weldon
Starring: Yuri Lowenthal
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

There is almost nothing here that suggests this film will be a hit. It has a terrible release date and quiet buzz. The early reviews are not good, while there’s direct competition opening just two weeks later. The film has only made about $20 million internationally, including about $5 million in its native Germany. There are some who think it will barely make more than that here. I don’t want to be that pessimistic, but I have to admit bombing is a real possibility.

Weekend of September 16th, 2016

Blair Witch

It’s another busy week at the box office with three and a half films opening wide. (Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is expected to open semi-wide.) Blair Witch is the long-delayed sequel to The Blair Witch Project and should be the biggest hit of the weekend. Also opening this week is Bridget Jones’s Baby, the long-delayed sequel to Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. Finally, there’s Snowden, which feels like another piece of Busted Oscar-bait being dumped in September. This weekend last year, the box office was led by Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, which earned just over $30 million. The second place film, Black Mass, earned more than $22 million. There’s a chance none of the films opening this week will crack $20 million. I think 2016 will have better depth, but I don’t think be enough to give 2016 the win in the year-over-year comparison.

Blair Witch

Blair Witch
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BlairWitch.com/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R For language, terror and some disturbing images.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Found Footage, Delayed Sequel, Missing Person, Supernatural
Directed By: Adam Wingard
Written By: Simon Barrett
Starring: James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez
Production Budget: Estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $50 million

The delayed-sequel to the original film in the Blair Witch franchise. The movie follows James, who is looking for his missing sister, who is Heather Donahue from the first film. There is almost no chance this film will make as much as the first film did, despite its 100% positive early reviews. It is just too rare for horror movies to crack $100 million mark to expect sequels to top the original. However, it will likely do well enough to break even before it hits the home market.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: BridgetJonesMovie.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for language, sex references and some nudity.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Delayed Sequel, Sequels Without Their Original Stars, London, Relationships Gone Wrong, Unexpected Pregnancy, Romance
Directed By: Sharon Maguire
Written By: Emma Thompson, Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey
Production Budget: Rumored at $35 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Bridget Jones breaks up with her boyfriend and hooks up with a new guy. Then she finds out she’s pregnant and she’s not sure which man is the father.

It has been more than a decade since we got an installment in this franchise and there’s a good chance that the target audience has moved on. On the other hand, the film has always done better internationally and it likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so if it can make $100 million internationally, it will break even, regardless of how well it does here. I think that’s likely.

Snowden

Snowden
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: SnowdenFilm.com/
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Based on Factual Book/Article
Genre: Drama
Keywords: NSA, Fugitive / On the Run, Biography, 2010s
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone, Luke Harding, Anatoly Kucherena
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Production Budget: Estimated at between $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $25 million

This feels like this year’s The Fifth Estate, although I don’t think Snowden will bomb as hard as The Fifth Estate did. I don’t think it is medically possible to bomb harder than The Fifth Estate did. The film feels like an Awards Season contender, at least if you look at the pedigree and the subject matter. However, it is opening too soon to be an Awards Season contender. Maybe if it does get some serious Awards Season buzz, it could be a midlevel hit. I think that’s a long-shot.

Weekend of September 23rd, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

This is the best weekend of the month, as there are two films that have a shot at $100 million each. The Magnificent Seven is almost guaranteed to reach the century mark, while Storks is the first big animated film of the fall and often these films hit $100 million at the box office. I don’t think it has a 50/50 chance at getting to $100 million, but I don’t think it is a really long-shot either. This weekend last year, Hotel Transylvania 2 opened with $48.46 million while The Intern debuted in second place with $17.73 million. I think The Magnificent Seven will open with close to $50 million, while Storks is aiming for a nearly $30 million debut. If they both hits these marks, then 2016 will win in the year-over-year competition.

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: facebook.com/Mag7Movie/
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: September 23rd, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.
Source: Remake
Genre: Western
Keywords: Ensemble, Mercenaries, Death of a Spouse or Fiancée / Fiancé, Robber Baron, Remake, Foreign-Language Remake
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Written By: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett
Production Budget: Reported at $108 million
Box Office Potential: $140 million

This is a remake of the 1960s classic, which in turn was a remake of the Akira Kurosawa film, The Seven Samurai. The Magnificent Seven is by far the biggest release of the month and could earn more during its opening weekend, $50 million or so, than most other films earn in total. Since there is no other film as big of this one opening until November, it could have better than average legs thanks to weaker than average competition.

Storks

Storks
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: StorksMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: September 23rd, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and some thematic elements.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Animal Lead, Talking Animals, Unexpected Families
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Written By: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer
Production Budget: Estimated at $75 million
Box Office Potential: $95 million

Warner Bros. is really hoping this film is a $100 million hit. The previous animation label for Warner Bros. was called Warner Bros. Feature Animation and its film was Space Jam. Space Jam made $250 million on a $90 million budget. The next four films all bombed and the animation studio was shut down. They return with a new label, Warner Animation Group and its first release was The LEGO Movie, which was a monster hit. However, even before that film came out, the studio had a slate of films, but they’ve repeatedly pushed back the release dates of these films, which is not a good sign. Storks is the first of these films that is actually coming out. If it flops, it is a bad sign, as it could indicate history is repeating itself.

I don’t think the film will hit $100 million, but I think it will come close, so it won’t be a bomb, but it won’t be a serious hit either.

Weekend of September 30th, 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The last weekend of the month includes the biggest release of the month, at least in terms of production budget. Deepwater Horizon cost $156 million, but it won’t match that at the box office. It likely won’t even become the biggest hit of the weekend. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has a better shot for top spot over the weekend. It is an adaptation of a Young Adult novel and there is precedent for a film like this to be a hit in September. The final new release of the week is Masterminds, which has an impressive pedigree, but there’s rumors something went wrong with the final product. This weekend last year was the first weekend of October and was led by The Martian, which made $54.31 million during its opening weekend. I don’t think the combined openings will be $54.31 million this time around, resulting in September ending on a losing note in the year-over-year competition.

Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: DeepwaterHorizon.movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 30th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Disaster, Environment, Corporate Malfeasance, 2010s
Directed By: J.C. Chandor
Written By: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand, David Barstow
Starring: Mark Wahlberg
Production Budget: Reported at $156 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Lionsgate has had a number of high-profile flops this year including Gods of Egypt, Allegiant, and to a lesser extent, Now You See Me 2. Deepwater Horizon could be its biggest bomb of the year costing $156 million and many people think it won’t come close to that. I think it will miss its production budget by $100 million, but that’s not even the lowest prediction I’ve seen.

Masterminds

Masterminds poster
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: facebook.com/MastermindsMovie
Distributor: Relativity
Release Date: September 30th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Heist, No Honor Among Thieves
Directed By: Jared Hess
Written By: Emily Spivey, Jody Hill, Danny McBride, Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Zach Galifianakis stars as a driver for an armored car who wants more from life. A co-worker, Kristen Wiig gets him involved in a heist against his truck. The heist goes off smoothly, but the other members of the crew take off with his share of the money and he’s been set up to take the fall.

This film has an excellent cast with plenty of talented comedic actors. However, something has gone wrong, as the film was originally scheduled for an August 2015 release before being pushed back, repeatedly. Now it is being dumped in theaters during the last weekend of one of the worst months of the year with two films that are much bigger than it is. It likely didn’t cost a lot to make, so it doesn’t need to reach $100 million domestically to break even. It could likely make half of that and still so well financially. However, I think $50 million might be out of reach.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Miss-Peregrines-Home-For-Peculiar-Children
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 30th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Young Adult Book Adaptation, Boarding School, Orphanage, Mutants, Prophetic Dreams, Good vs. Evil
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Jane Goldman, Ransom Riggs
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson
Production Budget: Estimated at $70 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $65 million

Tim Burton directs a Young Adult Book Adaptation. This film looks too much like Dark Shadows, which is not a good thing. Hopefully this film didn’t cost $150 million to make, or even close to that much. It could do as well as Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials did when it came out this time last year. Unfortunately, $80 million is on the high end of expectations. It has an equal chance of getting to $80 million as failing to reach $50 million.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Masterminds, Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, Deepwater Horizon, The Light Between Oceans, The Disappointments Room, Snowden, The Magnificent Seven, When the Bough Breaks, Storks, Sully, Morgan, Robinson Crusoe, Blair Witch, Blair Witch Project, Bridget Jones, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Renée Zellweger, Haley Bennett, Tim Burton, Asa Butterfield, Morris Chestnut, Patrick Dempsey, Heather Donahue, Clint Eastwood, Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Antoine Fuqua, Zach Galifianakis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kelsey Grammer, Eva Green, Regina Hall, Jared Hess, Akira Kurosawa, Christopher Lee, Kate Mara, Danny McBride, Hubbel Palmer, Chris Pratt, Andy Samberg, Peter Sarsgaard, Oliver Stone, Emma Thompson, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones, Ella Purnell, Nicholas Stoller, John Lee Hancock, Doug Sweetland, Derek Cianfrance, Jane Goldman, Alicia Vikander, Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, J.C. Chandor, Jody Hill, Matthew Sand, Dan Mazer, Todd Komarnicki, Valorie Curry, James Allen McCune, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Luke Scott, Callie Hernandez, Luke Harding, M.L. Stedman, Ben Stassen, Domonic Paris, Kieran Fitzgerald, Sharon Maguire, Helen Fielding, Yuri Lowenthal, Emily Spivey, Chris Bowman, Kate McKinnon, Jon Cassar, Jaz Sinclair, Anya Taylor Joy, Ransom Riggs, Seth W. Owen, Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow, Vincent Kesteloot, Graham Weldon, Jack Olsen, Anatoly Kucherena, Katie Crown, David Barstow