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2016 Preview: October

October 1st, 2016

The Girl on the Train

September is over and we should all be glad about that. Unless the final weekend brings a surprise $100 million hit or two, 2016’s lead over 2015 will shrink over the month. There were some bright spots, most notably Sully, which will be the biggest hit of the month. On the other hand, we had more outright bombs than even midlevel hits. Sadly, October isn’t much better. There are a couple of films that could be $100 million hits, but most of the films will struggle to become midlevel hits. Both Inferno and The Girl on the Train are aiming for $100 million. One of them might get there too. If both get there, then October will be seen as a success. By comparison, last October was led by The Martian; however, because of a misalignment in the calendar, The Martian’s opening weekend actually lines up with the final weekend in September. It had great legs, so that will help 2015 early in the month, but the rest of the month was terrible last year and I think 2016 will come out ahead as a result.

Weekend of October 7th, 2016

The Girl on the Train

The first weekend of the month has a trio of wide releases. The Girl on the Train is widely expected to be the biggest hit of the week, perhaps the biggest hit of the month. At one time, The Birth of a Nation was expected to be a major player during Awards Season, but controversy has become an issue. Finally there’s Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, which is a live-action family film. These rarely do well at the box office. This weekend last year, Pan was the biggest new release of the week earning just $15.32 million. That’s great news for 2016. However, The Martian repeated on top with $37.02 million, while Hotel Transylvania 2 earned $20.42 million over the weekend. It is unlikely the three new releases this year will be able to top those three films, so it will be up to holdovers to push 2016 over the top. I’m not overly optimistic about that.

The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxSearchlight.com/TheBirthOfANation
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: October 7th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: Slavery, Revolution, 1800s, Virginia, African-American, Religious
Directed By: Nate Parker
Written By: Nate Parker
Starring: Nate Parker
Production Budget: Reported at $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

At one time, The Birth of a Nation was expected to be one of the big players during this year’s Awards Season. It’s based on real life events, and is focused on African-Americans. After the past few years of Oscars overlooking African-American actors, directors, writers, etc., a lot of people thought this film would be the way the Oscar voters could fix their mistakes. Then a rape trial from Nate Parker’s past resurfaced and that really hurt the film’s buzz. Additionally, its reviews are great, but not Oscar-worthy and, since the film’s box office buzz was never that great, it was going to have to rely on Awards Season buzz for ticket sales. On the positive side, it was inexpensive to make and should open with more than it cost to make.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: TheGirlOnTheTrainMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 7th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Addiction, Relationships Gone Wrong, Missing Person, Depression, Infertility, Black Out Drunk, Gaslighting
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Paula Hawkins
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux
Production Budget: Estimated at $40 million to $60 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

Emily Blunt stars as a woman who is divorced and has slipped into alcoholism. She tends to get blackout drunk and harass her ex-husband and his new family, but can’t remember the incidents when she sobers up. One day, she sees him kissing a new woman and that night she blacks out again only to learn the next day that this new woman is missing and she might have killed her.

This film reminds me a lot of Gone Girl, although I don’t think this film has nearly as high a box office potential. It is a thriller about a doomed marriage that is based on a popular book. It could top $100 million domestically, which would be great news for the studio. As long as it comes close, it will break even sooner rather than later.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MiddleSchoolMovie.com/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: October 7th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor throughout, language and thematic elements.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Middle School, Bad Teachers, Animated Sequences, New Guy/Girl in School, Bullies, Divorcée Romance, Dysfunctional Family
Directed By: Steve Carr
Written By: Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer, Kara Holden, James Patterson, Chris Tebbetts
Starring: Griffin Gluck, Thomas Barbusca, Isabela Moner
Production Budget: Estimated at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

The three films in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid earned an average of $55 million. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible ... earned $66 million. I don’t think Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life will do as well at the box office, but I see no reason why it won’t at least come close.

Weekend of October 14th, 2016

The Accountant

Two films open wide this weekend. The bigger of the two is The Accountant, which is a thriller starring Ben Affleck and directed by David Fincher. ... Just like Gone Girl. Kevin Hart: What Now? is the latest stand-up concert film from Kevin Hart. His previous stand-up concert film earned more than $30 million and that came out before he topped the Highest Grossing Stars list. Max Steel is also coming out this week, but it appears to be opening semi-wide without a serious ad campaign to back it up. I’m not convinced it will open in the top ten. This weekend last year, Goosebumps led the way with an opening box office of $23.62 million. I think The Accountant will top that, but there were five films that earned $10 million or more. That’s a lot of depth to overcome. I’m not optimistic.

The Accountant

The Accountant
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AccountantMovie.com
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 14th, 2016
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Accountants, Organized Crime, White Collar Crime, Child Prodigy, Mental Illness
Directed By: Gain O'Connor
Written By: Bill Dubuque
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal
Production Budget: $60 million to $80 million
Box Office Potential: $75 million

The Accountant is Gavin O'Connor's second release of the year, although the less said about Jane Got A Gun the better. This film should become the biggest film in his career topping The Miracle. With the help of Ben Affleck's star power, it could become his first $100 million hit. Maybe that's asking too much. The Savant nature of the main character will be difficult to pull off in a way that feels authentic and not cartoonish, but I think the actor is a good fit for the role. If the reviews are great, then maybe it will have a shot at $100 million. It is too soon to tell if that will be the case.

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Kevin Hart: What Now?
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: KevinHartWhatNow.com/
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 14th, 2016
MPAA Rating:
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Concert/Performance
Keywords: African-American, Stand-Up Comedy, Philadelphia
Directed By: Leslie Small
Written By: Kevin Hart
Starring: Kevin Hart
Production Budget: Estimated at less than $5 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

Kevin Hart is currently the highest grossing star, although if Passengers is as big of a hit as some think, Jennifer Lawrence will retake the crown by the end of the year. That said, there’s a chance What Now? breaks the all-time record for a stand-up comedy concert movie. The current record is held by Eddie Murphy Raw, which made just over $50 million way back in 1987. Is it possible this film will break that record? I don’t know. Define “possible”. What I can say is this film has the best chance of doing so of any stand-up concert film released since 1987. Kevin Hart’s previous such film, Let Me Explain, earned $32.24 million and his star power has only grown in the three years since it came out. I don’t think it will reach that high, but it should become the biggest concert hit in his career.

Weekend of October 21st, 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Five films. There are five films opening wide this weekend. That’s at least two too many, meaning we will likely see at least two bombs debuting this week and / or zero films opening strong. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the most likely of the five to earn first place, but it also likely won’t match its predecessor. Keeping Up with the Joneses is an action / comedy, but its buzz isn’t growing as fast as it should. The first Ouija earned $50 million in 2014. The prequel, Ouija: Origin of Evil, isn’t expected to match that, but it should at least come close. Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween is the first Madea film in three years. No film in the franchise has earned less than $50 million, but I think that streak will end this time. Finally there’s I’m Not Ashamed. The buzz for this film is so quiet that I’m not entirely sure it is opening truly wide. This weekend last year had two of the biggest bombs of all time and no movie earned more than $16 million over the weekend. We have to be able to beat that this year. If not, then 2016 is in serious trouble.

I’m Not Ashamed

I’m Not Ashamed
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ImNotAshamedFilm.com/
Distributor: Pure Flix Entertainment
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, teen drinking and smoking, disturbing violent content and some suggestive situations.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Drama
Keywords: 1990s, Mass Shooting, Inspired by a True Story, Faith-Based
Directed By: Brian Baugh
Written By: Bodie Thoene, Kari Redmond, Philipa Booyens
Starring: Masey McLain
Production Budget: Reported at $1.5 million
Box Office Potential: $15 million

This film is a faith-based film about the Columbine shooting based on the journal of the first victim. This film could be inspiring, or it could be cringe-inducing and / or exploitative. As a faith-based film, it is the most unpredictable of any film opening this week. However, it is also expected to open in the fewest theaters, potentially significantly less than 2,000, while it definitely has the quietest buzz. Fortunately, it reportedly cost just $1.5 million to make, so it doesn’t need to be a big hit in theaters to break even eventually.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: JackReacherMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
MPAA Rating:
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Action
Keywords: Falsely Accused, Government Corruption, Conspiracy Theory
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Written By: Edward Zwick, Richard Wenk, Marshall Herskovitz, Lee Child
Starring: Tom Cruise
Production Budget: Reported at $96 million
Box Office Potential: $70 million

Jack Reacher opened in 2012 and earned $80 million domestically on a $60 million budget. That’s good, but not great. I was a little surprised when a sequel was announced. The studio spend 60% more money making Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, so they need it to make a lot more than $80 million to break even. Sadly, this year most sequels have under-performed their predecessors. Worse still, The Accountant is opening a week before and it shares a lot of the same target demographic, so it could steal some moviegoers away from this movie, while there is a ton of competition this weekend. On the positive side, Tom Cruise is still a major star and the film is the biggest of the weekend. That should help it come out on top, even if it is not enough to break even any time soon.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Keeping Up with the Joneses
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Keeping-Up-With-The-Joneses
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, action/violence and brief strong language.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Secret Agent
Directed By: Greg Mottola
Written By: Michael LeSieur
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher
Production Budget: Estimated $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

An action comedy where an average suburban couple, Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher, get caught up in espionage after they find out their neighbors, Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm, are spies. That’s a cool setup, although not a particularly unique one, while the cast have enough star power to draw in some moviegoers. Unfortunately, there are just too many films opening this weekend to thrive. Worse still, Zach Galifianakis is in another comedy opening just a few weeks earlier and it isn’t even expected to open in the top five. It bombing might hurt this film’s chances. Another thing that will hurt this film’s chances is the competition. There are too many films opening this weekend and I’m afraid this one won’t stand out.

Ouija: Origin of Evil

Ouija: Origin of Evil
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: OuijaMovie.com
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images, terror and thematic elements.
Source: Based on Game
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Supernatural, Possessed, Prequel, 1960s, Los Angeles, Widow/Widower, Single Parent
Directed By: Mike Flanagan
Written By: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Starring: Annalise Basso, Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Lulu Wilson
Production Budget: Estimated at under $10 million
Box Office Potential: $35 million

A mother, Elizabeth Reaser, uses her two daughters, Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson, as part of a séance scam. However, when they add a ouija board to the mix, Lulu becomes possessed by a real demon.

The original Ouija earned $50 million at the box office, which is great for a film that cost just $5 million to make. However, it was savaged by critics, while audiences only gave it a C on the CinemaScore surveys. There’s little hope this film will earn as much as its predecessor did because of that. However, the film is a prequel with an entirely different cast and almost feels like a new movie. Maybe this will give is a fresh start with audience and that will help it at the box office.

Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween

Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Boo.Movie/
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material.
Source: Based on Play
Genre: Comedy
Keywords: Directing Yourself, Screenplay Written By the Star, African-American, Cross-Dressing, Halloween, Supernatural, Zombies
Directed By: Tyler Perry
Written By: Tyler Perry
Starring: Tyler Perry, Bella Thorne, Diamond White
Production Budget: Estimated at $25 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

No Madea movie has ever earned less than $50 million at the box office. The average for the franchise is just over $60 million, so it has been a very steady performer at the box office. However, I think Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween might be going too far. It is a completely different genre than the other films in the franchise, so this might turn off fans. I was hopeful that this change might bring in new moviegoers. I was actually interested in seeing the movie, at least I was until I saw the trailer. I think it will only appeal to hardcore Madea fans and even then that might not be enough to save the movie.

Weekend of October 28th, 2016

Inferno

The month ends with just one movie opening wide, Inferno. This is the delayed sequel in the Da Vinci Code franchise. There was a huge drop at the box office between the first and the second film and many think this drop will continue for this movie. On the other hand, it is the only movie opening wide this weekend, so that will have to help. As for the year-over-year comparison, this weekend last year, Halloween landed on a Saturday and that destroyed the box office. This year, Halloween doesn’t arrive till Monday. That alone should ensure 2016 comes out way ahead of 2015 in the year-over-year comparison.

Inferno

Inferno
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: InfernoMovie.net
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: October 28th, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality.
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Delayed Sequel, Conspiracy Theory, Faulty Memory
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: David Koepp, Dan Brown
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones
Production Budget: Estimated at $100 million
Box Office Potential: $90 million

This is the third film in the Da Vinci Code franchise. The first film earned more than $200 million domestically and $750 million worldwide on a $125 million budget. It should come as no surprise that there was a sequel. However, this sequel cost more to make and saw its box office numbers fall nearly 40%. If a similar decline were to happen to Inferno, it would fall to just over $80 million. Tom Hanks did just have a hit with Sully, so I don't think it will be that bad. Also, at the moment, the movie has the weekend all to itself, so that should boost its box office chances. It might even hit $100 million domestically, but I’m not that bullish.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Inferno, Ouija: Origin of Evil, The Accountant, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Birth of a Nation, Kevin Hart: What Now?, The Girl on the Train, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, Max Steel, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, I’m Not Ashamed, Madea, Da Vinci Code, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, Haley Bennett, Jon Bernthal, Emily Blunt, Dan Brown, Steve Carr, David Fincher, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Kevin Hart, Kara Holden, Ron Howard, Anna Kendrick, David Koepp, Jennifer Lawrence, Greg Mottola, Gavin O'Connor, Hubbel Palmer, Nate Parker, Tyler Perry, Elizabeth Reaser, J.K. Simmons, Justin Theroux, Henry Thomas, Edward Zwick, Tate Taylor, Marshall Herskovitz, Felicity Jones, Richard Wenk, Griffin Gluck, James Patterson, Lee Child, Mike Flanagan, Annalise Basso, Jeff Howard, Michael LeSieur, Brian Baugh, Bella Thorne, Lulu Wilson, Rebecca Ferguson, Bill Dubuque, Chris Bowman, Paula Hawkins, Philipa Booyens, Thomas Barbusca, Isabela Moner, Leslie Small, Bodie Thoene, Kari Redmond, Masey McLain, Chris Tebbetts, Diamond White