The fall movie season kicks off in earnest on October 7 with four new wide releases, two in particular of which are gaining a lot of buzz. Universal hopes to get “all aboard” with its thriller The Girl on the Train, Fox Searchlight debuts one of the year’s top Oscar contenders The Birth of a Nation, Freestyle Releasing plugs in with their social media horror Friend Request, and Lionsgate goes through growing pains with Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.
The Girl on the Train (Universal)
- The source novel by Paula Hawkins is a massive success. The novel surpassed three million copies sold by last August after only eight months of American release, was Amazon’s best selling book of 2015, and sold more than quadruple the sales of “The Da Vinci Code” during both novels’ first four weeks.
- Looking at the first or second weekend of October over the past few years, the “adult drama/thriller” genre has had some major box office successes that weekend, such as Argo, Gravity, The Martian, and Gone Girl. The latter earned $167 million two years ago after also opening during the first week of October, and it is perhaps the novel Girl on the Train has been most frequently compared to.
- Title character and lead star Emily Blunt has had box office hits, including such $100+ million films as Into the Woods, Edge of Tomorrow, and The Devil Wears Prada. But in all of them, she was either a supporting role or part of an ensemble cast, behind such major stars as Tom Cruise, Anne Hathaway, and Meryl Streep. It remains to be seen whether she can bring in money in a lead role.
- Several “adult drama thrillers” will have been released in the preceding weeks, including Sully, Snowden, and Deepwater Horizon. If one or more of those end being breakout hits, that could cut into Girl‘s box office.
The Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight)
- The Civil War drama about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion is considered one of the frontrunners for the Academy Awards, as a lead contender for Best Picture and several other trophies.
- After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Fox Searchlight paid a new record $17.5 million for distribution rights to the film, meaning they certainly think it will earn back their investment.
- Films about race and slavery are a touchy and often tragic subject that audiences may want to shy away from. The film’s poster featuring the lead character in a noose made from an American flag is visually evocative but is emblematic of the kind of subject matter that could turn audiences off.
- For example, perhaps the closest analogue film of the past few years was 12 Years a Slave, which won the Oscar for Best Picture but made a decent-but-not-amazing $56 million at the box office. Other recent movies dealing with slavery or race head-on, including Free State of Jones and Fruitvale Station, failed to make a box office splash too.
- With the presidential election coming only a month later, reality might overtake fiction (for once) as audiences may be more captivated by the politics in real life than the politics on screen.
Friend Request (Freestyle Releasing)
- The cyber-themed horror film could follow similar tech-focused horrors or thrillers like last month’s Nerve ($29 million and counting as of this writing) and last year’s Unfriended with $32 million. While hardly mind-blowing figures, they’re actually decent for low-budget films — Unfriended cost only $1 million to make.
- With Halloween coming up several weeks later at the end of the month, this film could potentially have legs, more so than most other films in the traditionally front-loaded horror genre.
- That being said, it’s also up against other horror films Ouija: Origin of Evil and Rings between its opening and Halloween, which could provide tough competition.
- Reaction online has been mixed bordering on bad, with many calling it a cheap Hollywood-forced modernization of horror classic The Ring, except with a social media account out to kill you instead of a VHS tape.
- Freestyle Releasing has only had one film ever top $16 million total: God’s Not Dead in 2014. This film is unlikely to break that streak.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (Lionsgate)
- The comedy book and graphic novel series by James Patterson has been a hit with younger audiences, with seven books to date and an eighth coming out shortly after the film. Not on the level of a “Harry Potter” or “Hunger Games” in terms of popularity, but it’s sold nonetheless.
- The combination of live-action and animation elements, as the lead character draws obsessively and imagines his sketched characters coming to life, could potentially provide a hybrid-medium combination akin to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
- The trailer hasn’t gained much buzz online, with reaction muted.
- The so-called adult “stars” whose names are listed above the title on the poster include Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, and Andy Daly — hardly seat fillers.
- Films about middle school life have often underwhelmed at the box office given their limited demographic — remember Max Keeble’s Big Move or How to Eat Fried Worms. (And if you can’t remember those films, that just proves the point.) However, that’s not always true: the three films in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day were moderately-sized hits.
Check out our complete long range forecast in the table below.
|Title||Release Date||Distributor||Opening Weekend||Cumulative|
|The Girl on the Train||Oct 7, 2016||Universal||$24,000,000||$80,000,000|
|The Birth of a Nation||Oct 7, 2016||Fox Searchlight||$23,000,000||$95,000,000|
|Friend Request||Oct 7, 2016||Freestyle Releasing||$3,500,000||$8,000,000|
|Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life||Oct 7, 2016||Lionsgate||$5,500,000||$16,500,000|
|Deepwater Horizon||Sep 30, 2016||Lionsgate||$19,000,000||$62,000,000|
|Masterminds||Sep 30, 2016||Relativity Media||$11,000,000||$29,000,000|
|Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children||Sep 30, 2016||Fox||$18,000,000||$59,000,000|
|The Magnificent Seven||Sep 23, 2016||Sony||$49,000,000||$150,000,000|
|Storks||Sep 23, 2016||Warner Bros.||$21,000,000||$71,000,000|
|Bridget Jones’s Baby||Sep 16, 2016||Universal||$12,000,000||$39,000,000|
|Snowden||Sep 16, 2016||Open Road Films||$6,000,000||$16,000,000|
|Blair Witch||Sep 16, 2016||Lionsgate||$10,000,000||$22,000,000|
|Hillsong – Let Hope Rise||Sep 16, 2016||Pure Flix||$6,250,000||$21,000,000|
|Sully||Sep 9, 2016||Warner Bros.||$20,000,000||$74,000,000|
|When the Bough Breaks||Sep 9, 2016||Sony||$19,000,000||$40,000,000|
|Before I Wake||Sep 9, 2016||Relativity Media||$6,000,000||$12,500,000|
|The Wild Life||Sep 9, 2016||Lionsgate||$3,750,000||$9,000,000|
|The Light Between Oceans||Sep 2, 2016||Disney / Buena Vista||$7,000,000||$30,000,000|
|Morgan||Sep 2, 2016||Fox||$7,500,000||$21,000,000|
|Don’t Breathe||Aug 26, 2016||Screen Gems||$9,000,000||$22,000,000|
|Hands Of Stone||Aug 26, 2016||Weinstein Company||$5,000,000||$14,000,000|
|Mechanic: Resurrection||Aug 26, 2016||Lionsgate/Summit||$8,000,000||$20,000,000|
|Ben-Hur||Aug 19, 2016||Paramount||$19,000,000||$55,000,000|
|Kubo and the Two Strings||Aug 19, 2016||Focus||$13,500,000||$52,000,000|
|War Dogs||Aug 19, 2016||Warner Bros.||$19,000,000||$58,000,000|