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2017 Preview: September

September 1st, 2017

It

As bad as July was, August actually managed to be worse. 2017 was over $300 million behind 2016’s pace during August alone. That’s worse than the rest of the summer combined. The only film that was an unqualified hit was Annabelle: Creation, although there were a couple of other films that are doing well enough to be considered financial hits. There’s some good news and some bad news for this September. The month gets off to a slow start with no wide releases the first weekend, but there are three films opening during the rest of the month that are expected to top $100 million and all three should be better than the best August had to offer. It is expected to be the biggest hit of the month and is tracking to break the record for the biggest September weekend. Both Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie are expected to cross $100 million, although they are opening the same weekend, so that could hurt both of their chances. Meanwhile last September, Sully was the biggest release of the month earning $125.07 million. It should top that, while Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie won’t be too far behind. 2017 should cut the gap with 2016, but sadly only by a little bit.

Weekend of September 1st, 2017

There are no wide releases coming out this week. Tulip Fever is the widest new release of the week, but it is only opening “nationwide”, not truly wide, or even semi-wide. Likewise, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is getting a 40th anniversary re-release, but it is also only opening nationwide and not truly wide. Meanwhile, this weekend last year was led by Don’t Breathe with $15.83 million during its second weekend of release. The best new release that week was The Light Between Oceans with just $4.77 million. That’s a bad result, but this year will be worse. This year will be so much worse.

Weekend of September 8th, 2017

It

It is very likely going to be the biggest hit of the month and will dominate the box office this weekend. It will likely earn more during its opening weekend than Home Again will earn in total, and Home Again is expected to be a midlevel hit, or at least come close. This weekend last year, Sully and When the Bough Breaks opened with a combined $50 million. It should top that by itself. Unfortunately, by this time, the depth will be so pathetic. There’s a chance It could underperform and still earn more than all of the holdovers combined. Fortunately, this weekend last year pulled in barely more than $100 million and It should earn more than half of that by itself, and while Home Again isn’t expected to be a monster hit, it should do well enough to put 2017 ahead in the year-over-year comparison. On a side note, 9/11 is also coming out this week, but it is coming out nationwide, not truly wide. I doubt it will reach the top ten during its opening weekend.

Home Again

Home Again
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: HomeAgain-Movie.com
Distributor: Open Road
Release Date: September 8th, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic and sexual material.
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Keywords: Relationships Gone Wrong, Los Angeles, Single Parent, Romance
Directed By: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Written By: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Nat Wolff, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $50 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Reese Witherspoon stars as woman whose marriage has fallen apart. She moves with her daughter to Los Angeles and soon three young men begin living in her home. Then her husband returns and wants to repair their marriage. The trailer looks good, but not great, while the buzz is really quiet. Part of the quiet buzz has to do with the target demographic. More mature women are less likely to get hyped about a new release. Part of the quiet buzz has to do with Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who is a first time director. Part of it has to do with It, which is strong competition and its buzz is loud enough to drown all this film’s buzz. Overall, the film will likely do well enough to be a financial hit, but it will be a distant second place during its opening weekend.

It

It
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: ItTheMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: September 8th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.
Source: Remake
Genre: Horror
Keywords: Killer Clowns, Creature Features, Maine, Reboot, Remake, Child Murderer, Death of a Sibling, Non-Chronological
Directed By: Andres Muschietti
Written By: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård
Production Budget: Reported between $35 million and $45 million
Box Office Potential: $140 million

This is film is expected to be the biggest hit of the month and the biggest hit in Stephen King’s career, topping The Green Mile. This is great news for Warner Bros., as the movie has been in production since 2009. Just getting the film into theaters after all of that time is reason to celebrate. Having the best buzz of the month is icing on the cake. Some are predicting a $60 million opening, which is a little too bullish for my liking, but a $50 million to $55 million start would still be the biggest September weekend of all time. This is great news, as it would revitalize the box office. On the other hand, there’s a chance the month-long slump the box office has been suffering through proves to be too much for the movie leaving it with an opening closer to Annabelle: Creation’s debut a month ago. That would still be enough to break even, but it would be disappointing given the buzz.

Last Minute Update: It is a Warner Bros. movie, which means there will be no reviews posted until just a few days before its release. That said, the premiere has happened and the word on the street (Internet) is very positive. If this leads to even louder buzz, then a $60 million opening weekend and $160 million total becomes a lot more likely. It might even become the all-time highest grossing film released in September, a record currently held by Crocodile Dundee. Wait. What?

Weekend of September 15th, 2017

American Assassin

There is a big drop in quality this weekend, as neither of the two wide releases are expected to be anything more than midlevel hits. American Assassin is a rather generic action movie and the buzz is really quiet. Mother is a psychological thriller that should earn better reviews, but might be too out there to find an audience. Also coming out this week is All I See is You, but it appears to be opening only semi-wide, or perhaps even just nationwide. Either way, it is not wide enough to deal with here. This weekend last year, there were three wide releases, but none of them earned more than $10 million during the weekend. The top film was Sully at $21.65 million. American Assassin could top that, while Mother should open with well over $10 million. Add in It as a holdover and 2017 could start a mini-winning streak.

American Assassin

American Assassin
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: American-Assassin.com
Distributor: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 15th, 2017
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Source: Based on Fiction Book/Short Story
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Secret Agent, Revenge, C.I.A., World War III, Middle East, Terrorism
Directed By: Michael Cuesta
Written By: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Mitch Flynn
Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $30 million to $40 million
Box Office Potential: $45 million

Dylan O’Brien plays a man whose parents died in a car crash when he was a teenager and later his fiancée dies in a terrorist attack. He is recruited by the CIA and he and his mentor have to stop a rogue agent who is trying to start World War III by planning attacks in the Middle East. As far as setups go, this is one. Yeah, that’s really all I have to say about this. It’s too generic to really generate buzz and there’s not a lot of star power either. On the other hand, it’s the only film for those looking for an action film, or to be more accurate, a thriller with an emphasis on action. That should help it at the box office and maybe it will become a midlevel hit.

Mother!

Mother
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: MotherMovie.com
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: September 15th, 2017
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated - Likely Rated PG-13
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Dysfunctional Family, Film Actor, Psychological Thriller
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky
Written By: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $20 million to $30 million
Box Office Potential: $40 million

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a married couple whose relationship becomes strained when unexpected guests come to stay in their home.

This is the first film directed by Darren Aronofsky since Noah. That film cost $130 million to make and might eventually break even. Maybe. Fortunately for all involved here, this film is much close to Black Swan, a film that cost 10% as much to make, but earned over $100 million domestically and $330 million worldwide. This film won’t make as much, as the buzz is too quiet and there’s no Awards Season buzz like Black Swan had. It also has a much worse release date. It could still become a midlevel hit domestically and it if can top $100 million worldwide, it will have a shot at breaking even sometime during its home market run. That seems likely at this point.

Weekend of September 22nd, 2017

The Lego Ninjago Movie

This is the busiest weekend of the month with two truly wide releases and two semi-wide releases. The two wide releases, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie, are both widely expected to earn more than $100 million. The two semi-wide releases, Friend Request and Stronger, are both widely expected to open outside of the top ten. In fact, there’s a limited release coming out this week, Victoria and Abdul, that is earning enough Awards Season Buzz that it will likely perform better in limited release than either Friend Request or Stronger will perform in semi-wide release. Because of this, we won’t be dealing with either of them here. This weekend last year, The Magnificent Seven and Storks both opened very well for September releases. Fortunately, both Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie are on track to top those two films with ease. We should finally see a bright light at the box office.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: FoxMovies.com/Movies/Kingsman-The-Golden-Circle
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: September 22nd, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material.
Source: Based on Comic/Graphic Novel
Genre: Action
Keywords: Secret Agent, Shadowy Organization, Marvel Comics, Intertitle, Fictionalized Version of Yourself
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at $90 million to $100 million
Box Office Potential: $105 million

The original film cost more than $90 million to make and did well in theaters earning $400 million worldwide, so it is not a surprise a sequel was made. The sequel is getting a wildly different release date coming out in September instead of February. It was supposed to come out in the middle of summer, but was pushed back till September. That’s not a good sign and I think the studio expects a decline at the box office. Fortunately, it could lose 25% of its global box office and still break even on the home market. It could fall as much as 40%, which is what the Kick-Ass films fell between the first and second installment. I’m not that pessimistic, but if it fails to reach $100 million, I wouldn’t be that surprised.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

The Lego Ninjago Movie
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: LegoNinjagoMovie.com/
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: September 22nd, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and rude humor.
Source: Based on Toy
Genre: Adventure
Keywords: Ninja, Martial Arts, High School, Monster, Super Villains, Secret Identity
Directed By: Charlie Bean
Written By: Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, Kevin Hageman, Dan Hageman, Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher
Starring: Justin Theroux, Dave Franco
Production Budget: Unknown - Estimated at between $60 million and $80 million
Box Office Potential: $125 million

This is the third film in the Lego Animated franchise, which is an odd franchise. The three films have almost no narrative connection to each other, so it is hard to judge this film’s box office potential based on the previous films’ earnings. Instead, we should look at other animated films that have come out at this time of year. Storks struggled last year earning just over $70 million domestically. On the other hand, the year before, Hotel Transylvania 2 earned nearly $170 million domestically. Other $100 million hits to come out in September includes the original Hotel Transylvania, as well as both of the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies. I don’t think this film will be as good as the Transylvania movies were, but it should at least match the Cloudy films.

Weekend of September 29th, 2017

American Made

The month ends with two more wide releases, American Made and Flatliners, neither of which is expected to be anything more than a midlevel hit. American Made stars Tom Cruise and his star power should give it an advantage over Flatliners. Meanwhile, Flatliners is a delayed sequel to, well, Flatliners, a movie that is close to 30 years old, so I’m not sure the original has any drawing power left. Also opening this week is A Question of Faith, but it is only opening semi-wide, perhaps merely nationwide. Every week this month there’s at least one film that falls into that category and like every other such film, we will be skipping it here. This weekend last year, both Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Deepwater Horizon opened with more than $20 million, but there were only two other films earning more than $10 million. This year, there’s a chance neither new releases will open with more than $20 million, but there’s also a a chance that both of last week’s new releases earn $20 million this weekend. 2017 likely won’t be as good at the top, but its depth could give it the win in the year-over-year comparison.

American Made

American Made
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: AmericanMadeMovie.net
Distributor: Universal
Release Date: September 29th, 2017
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity.
Source: Based on Real Life Events
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: C.I.A., 1980s, Drug Trafficking, Narcotics, Smuggler, Crime Caper, In a Plane
Directed By: Doug Liman
Written By: Gary Spinelli
Starring: Tom Cruise
Production Budget: Unknown - estimated at $50 million to $70 million
Box Office Potential: $55 million

Tom Cruise used to be the biggest box office draw in the world. His drawing power has faded in the last decade, especially if you ignore the two Mission: Impossible movies. This film has a bad release date opening between much bigger movies, but at least it’s the bigger of the two truly wide releases coming out this week. That should help it become a midlevel hit, barely, but it will need help internationally to break even any time soon.

Last Minute Update: The film’s reviews are excellent, but the film has started its international run and it is not looking good. If the film matches its Australian debut here, it will earn less than $20 million during its opening weekend. If it is as weak as its U.K. debut, then it will make less than $10 million.

Flatliners

Flatliners
Trailer: Click to Play
Official Site: Facebook.com/FlatlinersMovie
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: September 29th, 2017
MPAA Rating:
Source: Original Screenplay
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Keywords: Death of Other Immediate Family, Supernatural, Medical Students, Near Death Experience, Delayed Sequel, Human Experimentation
Directed By: Niels Arden Oplev
Written By: Ben Ripley, Peter Filardi, Ben Ripley
Starring: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons
Production Budget: Reported at $20 million
Box Office Potential: $30 million

Flatliners came out in 1990s and earned mixed reviews, but earned just over $60 million domestically. That’s about $125 million in today’s dollars. Looking just at those numbers, it makes sense it is getting a delayed sequel. However, in the nearly 30 years since the film hit theaters, the original Flatliners hasn’t become a cultural touchstone. I would argue it’s mostly forgotten. I doubt it is going to help ticket sales for the new Flatliners. On the positive side, it only cost $20 million to make, so it won’t need to earn a lot at the box office to break even eventually.

Filed under: Monthly Preview, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Lego Ninjago Movie, Tulip Fever, American Made, All I See is You, Stronger, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Friend Request, mother!, Flatliners, It, Victoria and Abdul, American Assassin, Home Again, 9/11, A Question of Faith, Mission: Impossible, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Kick-Ass, Lego, Tom Cruise, Darren Aronofsky, Javier Bardem, Nina Dobrev, Colin Firth, Michael Keaton, Stephen King, Taylor Kitsch, Sanaa Lathan, Jennifer Lawrence, Doug Liman, Diego Luna, Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Sheen, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Justin Theroux, Matthew Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Edward Zwick, Dave Franco, Stephen Schiff, Marshall Herskovitz, Cary Fukunaga, Ben Ripley, Jane Goldman, Michael Cuesta, Nat Wolff, Peter Filardi, Gary Spinelli, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Niels Arden Oplev, Andres Muschietti, Paul Fisher, Dylan O’Brien, Bill Skarsgård, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Charlie Bean, Michael Finch, Taron Egerton, Gary Dauberman, Jaeden Lieberher, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, Pico Alexander, Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Mitch Flynn, Chase Palmer, Jon Rudnitsky
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