The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in September 2023

Images courtesy: Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, 20th Century Studios [Disney]

Following a summer season where two of the buzziest hits were based on original screenplays, as fall begins the box office returns, for the most part, to building on established franchises. This September sees the release of two second installments, three third installments, a fourth installment, and even a tenth installment.

Here are the biggest movies coming to cinemas this month, listed in chronological order of wide release.

The Equalizer 3

Friday, September 1

Premise: Sony Pictures’ R-rated action sequel sees the return of Denzel Washington as retired black ops soldier Robert McCall, now living peacefully in Italy… until he has to go up against the Mafia. Antoine Fuqua also returns to direct for the third time.

Box office: 2014’s The Equalizer cracked the nine-digit mark with $101.5M, then 2018’s The Equalizer 2 slightly exceeded that with $102.0M.

The Nun II

Friday, September 8

Premise: Warner Bros.’ horror sequel follows a Catholic nun (Taissa Farmiga) confronting a demon possessing people at a boarding school. Michael Chaves, of 2019’s The Curse of La Llorona and 2021’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, directs.

Box office: 2018’s The Nun raked in $117.4M, placing it as the #3 horror film of the year, behind only behind A Quiet Place and Halloween.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3

Friday, September 8

Premise: Focus Features’ comedy sequel follows the Portokalos clan on a family reunion to Greece, their ancestral homeland. Written and directed by Nia Vardalos, who wrote the first two installments but directed neither.

Box office: 2016’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 earned $59.6M, less than one-quarter of 2002’s original installment with $241.4M. The third installment will aim to match its predecessor, but earning even half of what the first film made is almost certainly impossible.

Another point of comparison is May’s Book Club: The Next Chapter, a fellow sequel which also moved the setting from the U.S. to Europe. That took in a mere $17.5M, only about one-quarter of 2018’s Book Club with $68.5M.

A Haunting in Venice

Friday, September 15

Premise: 20th Century Studios’ historical mystery sequel returns Kenneth Branagh as both director and protagonist Hercule Poirot, the detective from Agatha Christie’s bestselling mystery novels. The supporting cast includes Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, and Jamie Dornan.

As per the title, the trailer indicates more supernatural horror-adjacent themes than the two prior installments.

Box office: February 2022’s prior installment Death on the Nile earned $45.6M, although that was surely diminished by Covid’s Omicron variant. (Recall that many films scheduled for January and February 2022 postponed their releases.)

2017’s original Murder on the Orient Express made $102.8M, although this installment is almost certain not to match that.


Friday, September 22

Premise: Lionsgate’s R-rated action franchise about a team of aging action heroes returns for a fourth time, led by Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham. While several actors from previous installments don’t appear here—including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li—new actors are entering the fray, among them 50 Cent and Megan Fox.

Scott Waugh (Need for Speed) directs, marking the franchise’s fourth director in as many films.

Box office: The Expendables films have earned steadily decreasing amounts domestically. 2010’s The Expendables set the high water mark with $103.0M, then the sequel earned a bit less with $85.0M.

However, the third installment plummeted with $39.3M, less than half its predecessor—making it somewhat surprising this fourth installment was even greenlit.

The Creator

Friday, September 29

Premise: 20th Century Studios’ sci-fi action thriller follows a future human civilization at war with artificial intelligence after it detonates a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles. But will the lead soldier have the heart to destroy the A.I.’s most dangerous weapon, disguised in the form of a human girl?

Gareth Edwards, of 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and 2014’s Godzilla, directs.

Box office: Similar futuristic sci-fi action films include hits like 2009’s District 9 with $115.6M, 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow with $100.2M, and 2016’s Arrival with $100.5M. More middling grosses have included 2019’s Alita: Battle Angel with $85.8M and 2012’s Looper with $66.4M.

Grosses to avoid include 2018’s Annihilation with $32.7M and 2019’s Mortal Engines with $15.9M.

Saw X

Friday, September 29

Premise: The tenth installment of Lionsgate’s horror franchise slots itself between 2004’s Saw and 2005’s Saw II in the series’ notoriously convoluted timeline. Kevin Greuter, who helmed 2009’s Saw VI and 2010’s seventh Saw 3D, directs.

Box office: This franchise has been posting diminishing returns for several years. While the first five installments all earned $55M, none of the next four films have.

Most recently, May 2021’s spinoff Spiral was the franchise’s lowest-performing title with $23.2M, although it was both a spinoff and released as the cinema industry took its first true post-pandemic steps. 2017’s Jigsaw, the most recent in-sequence/non-spinoff installment, made $38.0M.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie

Friday, September 29

Premise: Paramount’s animated sequel about a band of crimefighting talking dogs is based on the hit Nickelodeon television show. The eclectic voice cast includes Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams, Chris Rock, Kristen Bell, and Taraji P. Henson.

Cal Brunker, who helmed the first film, directs again.

Box office: 2021’s original PAW Patrol: The Movie barked its way to $40.1M, although its theatrical earnings were hurt by debuting day-and-date simultaneously in cinemas and streaming on Paramount+. The sequel will receive theatrical exclusivity.

Images courtesy: Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, 20th Century Studios [Disney]

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