Fun fact: October and January are the only two months which have never had a film open to $100M-plus—a statistic that seems poised to change this year.
Currently, the October record for best opening weekend belongs to 2019’s Joker, with $96.2M. That record is almost certain to be broken by Taylor Swift’s upcoming concert tour, which could potentially breeze past the $100M mark by tens of millions of dollars.
The month will also feature two major horror releases timed to Halloween, plus an epic “DiCaprio + De Niro + Scorsese” collaboration. Here are the biggest movies coming to theaters in October 2023, listed chronologically by release date.
(Another fun fact: what’s the biggest debut weekend from a January, the only other month without a $100M opener? 2015’s American Sniper, with $89.2M.)
The Exorcist: Believer
Friday, October 6
Premise: Universal’s horror sequel serves as a direct follow-up to 1973’s horror classic The Exorcist, with Ellen Burstyn reprising her Academy Award-nominated role alongside a cast of newcomers that includes Leslie Odom, Jr. from Broadway’s Hamilton.
David Gordon Green directs, fresh on the heels of his 2018-’22 horror trilogy Halloween, Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends.
Originally scheduled to open on Friday the 13th, the addition of Swift’s concert film to the calendar prompted Universal to move Believer up by one week.
The first of a planned two sequels, The Exorcist: Deceiver, has been scheduled for April 2025.
Box office: Believer will aim to match the box office of recent $100M+ horror sequels like 2018’s Halloween ($159.3M), 2021’s A Quiet Place Part II ($160.2M), and March’s Scream VI ($108.1M). However, current industry forecasts come in far lower, predicting a final total more in line with 2023 horror sequels Insidious: The Red Door (July; $82.1M) and Evil Dead Rise (April; $67.2M).
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
Friday, October 13
Premise: Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour is by far the biggest concert tour in history, on track to earn potentially double the current record-holder: Elton John’s most recent Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. AMC Theatres and Variance Films are teaming up to release the concert film version of the tour, which combines footage from three of Swift’s early-August concerts at SoFi Stadium just outside Los Angeles.
Box office: Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is set to be the highest-earning concert film of all time by far. The current record-holder, 2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, brought in a domestic total of $73.0M, a number that’s likely to be surpassed by The Eras Tour on its opening weekend alone. With little by way of comparables—though concert films regularly hit the big screen, they tend to be released under an event-cinema model, meaning they have a very limited number of showtimes—it’s difficult to predict how far past Never Say Never Swift will eventually get, though a $100M+ opener is possible.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Friday, October 20
Premise: When white men discovered oil on Oklahoma tribal land in the 1920s, greed and money led to a string of murders committed against the Osage Native American population. Director Martin Scorsese unites two of his most frequent collaborators, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, in this historical drama, with Lily Gladstone co-starring.
With Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple TV+ has committed to theatrical exclusivity for the first time, having previously released several films—such as Best Picture Oscar winner CODA, Ghosted, and Emancipation—primarily via streaming. Killers of the Flower Moon‘s theatrical run, launched via a partnership with Paramount, is the first of several to be undertaken by Apple in the coming months, with Sony Pictures releasing the streamer’s Napoleon in November and Universal releasing Argylle in February 2024.
At 3 hours 26 minutes, Moon runs longer even than 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water (3 hours 12 minutes), 2019’s Avengers: Endgame (3 hours 1 minute), and July’s Oppenheimer (3 hours exactly).
Box office: Over the past 20 years, DiCaprio and Scorsese have collaborated on four films, all of them earning in the $100M to $150M range. They are: 2004’s The Aviator with $102.6M, 2006’s The Departed with $132.3M, 2010’s Shutter Island with $128.0M, and 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street with $116.9M.
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Friday, October 27
Premise: Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games franchise) stars in Universal’s video game adaptation as a security guard at an abandoned family entertainment center featuring animatronic animals, similar to Chuck E. Cheese… except these robots come to life and try to murder you.
Universal will release the title day-and-date simultaneously in cinemas and streaming on Peacock.
Box office: The day-and-date release throws a wrench into theatrical financial predictions. While many distributors experimented with the release strategy in 2020-’21, it has since largely been abandoned. This marks the third consecutive October in which Universal has debuted a horror film day-and-date, with 2021’s Halloween Kills ($92.0M) and 2022’s Halloween Ends ($64.0M) both notching respectable box office totals despite a lack of theatrical exclusivity.