Weekend Forecast: ‘The Girl on the Train,’ ‘The Birth of a Nation’ & ‘Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life’

October kicks off with three new wide releases opening on Friday. Universal will lead the charge with their highly anticipated psychological thriller  The Girl on the Train, an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. Fox Searchlight will debut The Birth of a Nation, a powerful story based on the real life story of Nat Turner, a heroic slave from Virginia who led a rebellion in 1831. Lastly, Lionsgate will open Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits.

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.
  • Early October has been very kind to this specific genre with the first weekend in October spawning massive hits such as The MartianGone Girl, Gravity and Taken 2 over the last four years which rank as four of the top 11 openers ever in October.


  • Early reviews for the film have been middling at best, currently at only 51% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. A familiar pattern from those negative reviews all cite that the film fails to capture the excitement of the novel it is based on and its screenplay does a poor job at keeping viewers engaged. This particular genre is most affected by reviews and these poor early grades could definitely affect its performance over the weekend.

The Birth of a Nation (Fox Searchlight)


  • Award season buzz for the film has been particularly strong, with many expecting it to receive an Academy Award nod for Best Picture at the very least.
  • 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.
  • Early reviews have been strong, coming in at 82% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes so far.


  • 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 Race, failed to make a box office splash too.
  • Controversy has surrounded the film since its inception as it portrays a violent rape on screen, which has led to many questions being asked of the film’s star/writer/director Nate Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin who were accused of rape in 1999. These questions have brought a lot of negative press to the film.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (Lionsgate)


  • The comedy book and graphic novel series by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits has been a hit with younger audiences, with seven books to date and an eighth coming out shortly after the film.
  • The novels are often compared to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series which is one of the best selling series of all time and has had three successful film adaptations. If Middle School can tap into this same demographic it could have a very lucrative run.


  • Online buzz for the film has been virtually non-existent, with it still yet to surpass 50,000 likes on Facebook and routinely struggling to hit even 500 tweets each day.
  • Starpower is lacking to say the least with perhaps its biggest draw being its source material’s writer James Patterson.

Top 10 Forecast

BoxOffice Pro forecasts this weekend’s top ten films will generate $95.1 million. That would mark a 10% decrease from last year’s $106.8 million when The Martian led all films for the second straight weekend with $37 million,

Check out our complete weekend forecast below.

Title Distributor Weekend Domestic Total through
Sunday, October 2
The Girl on the Train Universal $26,500,000 $26,500,000
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Fox $15,880,000 $52,640,000
Deepwater Horizon Lionsgate/Summit $12,130,000 $39,270,000
The Birth of a Nation Fox Searchlight $9,500,000 $9,500,000
Storks Warner Bros. $8,760,000 $50,720,000
The Magnificent Seven (2016) Sony / Columbia $7,030,000 $73,860,000
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Lionsgate $6,000,000 $6,000,000
Sully Warner Bros. $4,960,000 $113,120,000
Masterminds (2016) Relativity $2,940,000 $11,690,000
Don’t Breathe Sony / Screen Gems $1,430,000 $86,990,000

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