October 21 will be perhaps the busiest weekend of the entire year, with a staggering six new wide releases. (Most weekends have two, three, or four.) There’s something that weekend for every audience and demographic: Paramount’s action sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Fox’s spy comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, Focus Features’ family fantasy A Monster Calls, Universal’s horror sequel Ouija: Origin of Evil, Lionsgate’s horror comedy Boo! A Madea Halloween, and Pure Flix’s faith-based drama I’m Not Ashamed.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Paramount)
- Tom Cruise is of course one of the most iconic film stars of all time. His past three action movies have all grossed at least $85 million at the box office: last year’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation with $195.0 million, 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow with $100.2 million, and 2013’s Oblivion with $89.1 million.
- The book series by Lee Child continues to be as popular as ever. This film is an adaptation of the 18th book in the series, published in 2013. The original Jack Reacher film was based on the ninth novel One Shot, published in 2005. This is a series with a strong enough fanbase to have published 18+ books.
- The original Jack Reacher in 2012 made $80.0 million after a $15.2 million opening weekend. Among Tom Cruise action or adventure films in the past decade, that had the second-lowest gross behind 2010’s Knight and Day. Was the original popular enough to merit a sequel?
- Several other films could compete for audience, including The Accountant being released the weekend before and Inferno the weekend after.
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Fox)
- The unique premise, about a normal suburban couple who accidentally get caught up in an espionage plot with their secret-agent neighbors, could appeal to lovers of action, comedy, and spy films.
- The casting has been called spot-on, with Jon Hamm and Gal Godot (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) as the larger-than-life spies with Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher as the “normal” married couple.
- Galifianakis is the only one with proven box office clout here — and even he hasn’t had a box office hit since 2013 with The Hangover Part III. (And even that could be considered a disappointment, with its cumulative $112.2 million gross coming it at less than half of its predecessor The Hangover Part II with $254.4 million.) Jon Hamm’s one film in a starring role was 2014’s moderately successful Million Dollar Arm with $36.4 million.
- The film was originally slated for release on April 1 before being pushed back to late October, but this may have harmed its box office potential as the release schedule in early April is less crowded, especially with no other films in the same genre. (It would have had to go up against Godot’s fellow release, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.)
A Monster Calls (Focus Features)
- The fantasy about a boy who’s visited in the night by a giant talking tree is based on the award-winning 2011 book by Patrick Ness. With Liam Neeson on board as the voice of the monster tree and Sigourney Weaver as the boy’s grandmother, the casting could appeal to adults as the plot appeals to children.
- The last film with the premise of “child is visited in the night by a mysterious giant monster” was this summer’s The BFG, which was one of the biggest box office busts of director Steven Spielberg’s entire career.
- Focus Features has had a terrible track record so far this year with their films aimed at a family audience, with Ratchet & Clank earning only $8.8 million and Kubo and the Two Strings opening to a disappointing $12.6 million and fourth place last weekend.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal)
- The original Ouija film was a surprise hit on this same weekend in 2014, with a $19.8 million opening weekend and $50.8 million total. Not bad for the low-budget horror genre.
- With Halloween right around the corner, the film is perfectly timed. The predecessor film declined only 46.0 percent from its first to its second weekend, which overlapped with the Halloween holiday — a low decline for the traditionally front-loaded horror genre. If Origin of Evil can mimic a similarly low drop for its second weekend, this movie could have legs.
- Most horror films are rated R, but this one is PG-13. Although a PG-13 is usually the most targeted MPAA rating by studios, could that actually turn off the adult fans who want more blood, guts, and gore?
- Not one but two horror releases are scheduled for release the subsequent weekend: Rings and Lionsgate’s untitled horror film. The horror market will perhaps be over-saturated in late October.
Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate)
- Tyler Perry’s cross-dressing Madea character as a built-in fanbase, with this being the seventh film to date. The Halloween tie-in could provide a level of timeliness.
- The last Madea film was also the first holiday-themed one: 2013’s Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. Adjusted for inflation, it was the lowest-grossing of the six Madea films. The franchise definitely seems to be losing steam.
- The most recent horror comedy aimed at a primarily African-American audience was 2014’s A Haunted House 2 with the Wayans brothers. That film’s $17.3 million gross was very low and less than half of the $40.0 million of it predecessor. Although, to be fair, that sequel was released in April — the Halloween release date may make this an apples-to-oranges comparison.
I’m Not Ashamed (Pure Flix)
- The faith-based Christian-themed film is based on the true story of Rachel Scott, a devout Christian teenager killed in the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. The religious themes could appeal to the audiences that have made recent box office hits out of Miracles From Heaven and Heaven Is For Real.
- Especially in this era of fear and paranoia over mass shootings, audiences might shy away from seeing a film with such a morbid ending. (Then again, advanced knowledge of the film’s sad ending didn’t seem to hurt box office for Titanic.)
- Pure Flix started last year as a Christian-themed film studio, and none of their releases have yet earned more than the $20.7 million from this April’s God’s Not Dead 2.
Check out our long range forecasts in the table below.
|Title||Release Date||Distributor||Opening Weekend||Cumulative|
|Ouija: Origin of Evil||Oct 21, 2016||Universal||$12,000,000||$29,000,000|
|A Monster Calls||Oct 21, 2016||Focus Features||$6,000,000||$19,000,000|
|Keeping Up with the Joneses||Oct 21, 2016||Fox||$11,000,000||$32,000,000|
|Jack Reacher: Never Go Back||Oct 21, 2016||Paramount||$22,000,000||$62,000,000|
|I’m Not Ashamed||Oct 21, 2016||Pure Flix||$4,500,000||$17,000,000|
|Boo! A Madea Halloween||Oct 21, 2016||Lionsgate||$10,000,000||$26,000,000|
|The Accountant||Oct 14, 2016||Warner Bros.||$17,000,000||$60,000,000|
|Kevin Hart: What Now?||Oct 14, 2016||Universal||$11,500,000||$25,000,000|
|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||$19,000,000||$78,000,000|
|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.||$22,000,000||$81,000,000|
|When the Bough Breaks||Sep 9, 2016||Sony||$19,000,000||$40,000,000|
|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||$23,000,000|
|Morgan||Sep 2, 2016||Fox||$6,500,000||$12,000,000|
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