October 21 could be the single most crowded weekend at the box office in all of 2016, with five new releases, four of them “wide.” (And that’s after the fantasy film A Monster Calls was recently moved from October 21 to a limited release in December and wide expansion in January.) Three of this weekend’s releases are sequels or prequels: Paramount’s action film Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Lionsgate’s horror comedy Boo! A Madea Halloween, and Universal’s horror Ouija: Origin of Evil. Meanwhile, Fox debuts their action comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, and Pure Flix tries to make a spark with their faith-based limited release I’m Not Afraid.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Paramount)
- Tom Cruise has refashioned himself in the past decade as one of Hollywood’s go-to action stars, having only acted in one non-action film in the past eight years. The previous Jack Reacher in 2012 started with a $15.2 million opening weekend, and that was in December when opening weekend grosses are usually deflated.
- The original Jack Reacher made $80.0 million total, a decent if not jaw-dropping sum.
- The book series by Lee Child on which the films are based continues its popularity with more than 21 books to date and counting. Never Go Back is an adaption of book #18 of the same title, published in 2013.
- Considering other Cruise titles in the past decade which sold more tickets yet didn’t produce a sequel, like Knight & Day and Oblivion. Outside of the book’s fan base, was there a huge demand for another Jack Reacher?
- Tom Cruise is 54 years old, around the same age as other notable action stars stopped being as big box office draws as they once were: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jackie Chan. Could Cruise meet the same fate?
- The Accountant, which topped the box office last week, is a similarly dark action film starring an A-list actor. It could provide some competition, especially if it experiences a mild decline in its second weekend. Although The Accountant is rated R as opposed to Never Go Back which is PG-13, which means that while it might be competition for the adult audience, it likely won’t be for teenagers as much.
Boo! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate)
- The Madea franchise as portrayed by comedian Tyler Perry has had six films, with Boo! being the seventh. Though none have topped $100 million, they’ve all been moderate successes given their relatively low budgets.
- With Halloween a few weeks around the corner, this horror comedy could appeal to audiences. On this past weekend last year, the top film at the box office was the horror comedy Goosebumps, although that was intended more for family audiences than this film.
- The Madea franchise has also historically attracted a heavily African American audience. (One of the films was even called Diary of a Mad Black Woman.) With last week’s Kevin Hart: What Now? attracting a 42 percent African American audience, it could provide some tough competition for the “black-targeted comedy” crowd.
- The most recent film in the franchise, 2013’s A Madea Christmas had both the lowest opening weekend of the franchise with $16.0 million and the second-lowest total with $52.5 million. (Adjusted for ticket price inflation, it actually had the lowest total.) That’s a bad sign for Halloween for two reasons, both because it was the most recent Madea film and because it was the first holiday-themed one in the series.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal)
- The original Ouija from 2014 also came out in October, starting with $19.8 million and $50.8 million total. Both figures are impressive for the horror genre, especially an original non-sequel horror film.
- Ouija declined only 46 percent from its first to its second weekend, which overlapped with the Halloween holiday, compared to most horror films which usually drop 50 percent or more on their second weekend, and not-infrequently 60 percent. If this sequel can achieve a similarly low drop for its second weekend, this movie could have legs beyond its opening.
- With a PG-13 rating instead of the R rating typical for the horror genre, Origin of Evil could sacrifice some of its potential “hard core horror” fans who have flocked to R-rated horror films like the Saw and Paranormal Activity franchises. Then again, the original Ouija‘s PG-13 didn’t seem to hurt it too much.
- Set half a century before the original Ouija film, will this prequel be too distantly removed from the original in plot and characters to attract the original’s audience?
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Fox)
- The original plot — a typical suburban couple accidentally gets involved in an espionage plot with their secret-agent neighbors — could appeal to lovers of action, spy films, and comedy alike.
- Three of the four main cast members (Jon Hamm, Gal Godot, and Isla Fisher) haven’t yet proven themselves to be box office stars. Zach Galifianakis was one of the biggest comedy draws at the box office for a few years, but he hasn’t had a hit since 2013’s The Hangover Part III — which itself earned less than either of the two previous installment. His previous film, September’s similar action comedy Masterminds, opened to a disappointing $6.5 million and seems unlikely to reach $25 million total.
- After being originally scheduled for release on April 1, the movie was rescheduled to October 21. That may end up being a case of hindsight being 20/20, since April 1 had a less crowded release schedule and might have allowed Keeping to break out in a way that now seems improbable.
I’m Not Ashamed (Pure Flix)
- The Christian-themed film is based on the real story of Rachel Scott, a devout teenager killed during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Religious themes have made recent box office hits out of such films as March’s Miracles From Heaven, which opened with $14.8 million and ultimately earned $61.7 million.
- The film is only opening in about 500 theaters, compared about 2,150 for Boo!, 3,000 for Keeping, 3,100 for Ouija, and 3,500 for Never. A limited release will have limited reach at the box office.
- Most releases from faith-based studio Pure Flix have earned a similar opening weekend and total: God’s Not Dead 2 with a $7.6 million opening and $20.7 million total, Woodlawn with a $4.0 million opening and $14.3 million total, Do You Believe? with a $3.5 million opening and $12.9 million total. I’m Not Ashamed seems likely to replicate that track record, if not fall a little short.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||Domestic Total Through Sun. 10/23|
|Boo! A Madea Halloween||Lionsgate||$19,500,000||$19,500,000|
|Jack Reacher: Never Go Back||Paramount||$19,000,000||$19,000,000|
|The Accountant||Warner Bros.||$14,830,000||$49,300,000|
|Ouija: Origin of Evil||Universal||$13,000,000||$13,000,000|
|The Girl on the Train (2016)||Universal||$6,120,000||$57,880,000|
|Keeping Up with the Joneses||Fox||$5,750,000||$5,750,000|
|Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children||Fox||$5,380,000||$73,770,000|
|Kevin Hart: What Now?||Universal||$4,710,000||$19,730,000|
|Deepwater Horizon||Fox Searchlight||$3,520,000||$55,260,000|