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MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT -- OCTOBER OUTLOOK - 09/29/14


 
Muppets Most Wanted - Miss Piggy

Annabelle: Annabelle Wallis

Noah - Russell Crowe

Ouija: Olivia Cooke

Noah - Russell Crowe

Dracula Untold: Luke Evans

 

   October outlook: Thanks to last weekend's $35 million first-place launch for "The Equalizer", October will start out on the right foot at the boxoffice.

   Not only will "Equalizer" be selling tickets for weeks to come, but nearly 20 new wide releases will hit multiplexes throughout the ultra-crowded month, offering something for just about anybody. Here's a quick preview of what to expect in October.

   Three wide titles will kick things off Oct. 3, including the R rated supernatural horror thriller "Annabelle" from Warner Bros. and New Line at over 3,000 theatres. Its director, John R. Leonetti ("The Butterfly Effect 2"), was the cinematographer for "The Conjuring" and its producers are "Conjuring" creators (producer-director) James Wan and (producer) Peter Safran.

   "Annabelle's" tracking best and in double digits with under-25 females, the core audience these days for most horror films. It's scoring nearly as well with under-25 males, which should make it a date night film.

   Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard and Eric Ladin star in this "Conjuring" spinoff that begins with the arrival of a very unusual vintage doll. The requisite violence and bloodshed that follows is what thriller fans enjoy, along with a terrifying home invasion by satanic cult members.

   A very different sort of thriller -- but also with an R rating -- that's also landing Oct. 3 is 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' mystery "Gone Girl", fresh from its debut in the media spotlight at the New York Film Festival, where it attracted great reviews and got a best picture Oscar buzz going.

   "Girl", opening at about 3,000 theatres, is tracking in double digits as a first choice film for 25-plus women, an audience that tends to drag along husbands and boyfriends to films they want to see, boosting ticket sales nicely.

   Directed by David Fincher, a two-time best directing Oscar nominee for "The Social Network" (2011) and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2009), it stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris.

   Affleck plays Nick Dunne, who on his fifth wedding anniversary reports his wife Amy (Pike) is missing. Under police pressure and amid growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of their happy marriage crumbles -- and before long everyone's asking, "Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?"

   Paramount Pictures and Right of Way Films' R rated dramatic comedy "Men, Women & Children" opens in limited release Wed., Oct. 1. It expands Oct. 10 and will go wide Oct. 17. That's the type of marketing roll out that Hollywood typically uses with adult appeal films from well regarded filmmakers that it believes will be driven by good reviews and favorable word of mouth.

   Jason Reitman, who directed "MWC," is a four-time Oscar nominee – in 2008 for directing "Juno" and in 2020 for directing, writing the adapted screenplay and being a producer of "Up in the Air".

   "MWC" follows a group of high school teens and their parents trying to navigate the many ways the Internet's changed their relationships. Showing the range of roads people choose, it makes it clear that no one's immune to the enormous social change created by smartphones, tablets and computers.

   The film's core audience should be under-25 men and women whose lifestyles are driven by social networking.

   Also opening nationwide Oct. 3 is Freestyle Releasing and Stoney Lake Entertainment's sci-fi action thriller "Left Behind", . Directed by Vic Armstrong ("Army of One"), it stars Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson and Cassi Thomson.

   "Left's" tracking best with women over 25. Based on the dystopian novel by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, it's about a small group of survivors in a chaotic Earth where millions of people have suddenly disappeared.

   Four wide releases have staked out Oct. 10 as their opening day, including Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures' R rated drama "The Judge". Directed by David Dobkin ("The Change-Up"), it stars Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall and Vera Farmiga. It's tracking best with 25-plus women and nearly as well with men over 25.

    Downey plays big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town's judge (Duvall), is now suspected of murder. Hank sets out to learn the truth, reconnecting along the way with the family he left years earlier.

   Universal and Legendary Pictures' PG-13 rated fantasy action epic "Dracula Untold" will also take a bite out of the Oct. 10 weekend boxoffice. Directed by first-time feature director Gary Shore, it's produced by Michael DeLuca ("Captain Phillips", "Moneyball"). Starring are Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper and Samantha Barks.

   "Dracula's" tracking best with men over 25 and nearly as well with under-25 men.

    Evans, from "Fast & Furious 6" and "Immortals", plays Vlad the Impaler in this origin story about the man who became the legendary 15th century vampire Count Dracula.

   Family audiences are the target for Disney and The Jim Henson Company's PG rated comedy "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day", based on the book by Judith Viorst.

   Directed by Miguel Arteta ("Cedar Rapids"), it stars Bella Thorne, Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell. It's tracking best with men under 25.

   It's all about a day that begins on the wrong foot when Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) wakes up with chewing gum in his hair. Things then get worse by the hour.

   Rounding out the Oct. 10 pack is Lionsgate's R rated thriller "Addicted", directed by Bille Woodruff ("A Very Large Christmas") and starring Kat Graham, William Levy and Boris Kodjoe. It's tracking best with men under 25.

   Based on the best-selling novel by Zane, "Addicted" focuses on desire and the dangers of indiscretion. Sharon Leal plays Zoe Reynard, a successful businesswoman who appears to have it all –a dream husband she loves (Kodjoe), two great kids and a flourishing career. As perfect as everything seems, Zoe's drawn to temptations she can't resist and pursues a secretive life in whichshe risks everything.

   Three more wide openings plus Paramount's wide release of "MWC" will hit multiplexes Oct. 17.

   Columbia Pictures and QED International's R rated action war drama "Fury" is from "Training Day" writer and "End of Watch" director David Ayer. Starring are Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman. It's tracking best with under-25 men.

   As the Allies push into Europe in April, 1945, a battle-hardened army sergeant (Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and its five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines, facing overwhelming odds trying to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

   20th Century Fox's PG rated 3D animated adventure comedy "The Book of Life" is directed by first time feature director Jorge R. Gutierrez and one of its producers is Guillermo del Toro, whose directing credits include the "Hellboy" franchise and "Pacific Rim".

    Starring are the voices of Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Ron Perlman. It's tracking best with over-25 females, the moms-with-kids audience that animated movies want to attract.

   The film follows the journey of Manolo (Diego Luna), a young man torn between fulfilling his family's expectations and following his heart. Before choosing a path, he embarks on an incredible adventure spanning three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

   Relativity Media's PG-13 rated romantic drama "The Best of Me" is directed by Michael Hoffman ("Gambit") and stars James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato in a story about former high school sweethearts who reunite years later while visiting their hometown. It's tracking best with under-25 females.

   Oct. 24 will bring four new wide releases, including Universal's PG-13 rated supernatural thriller "Ouija". Directed by first time feature director Stiles White, who wrote "The Possession", it's from the producers of "The Purge", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Paranormal Activity" and "Insidious".Starring are Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto and Daren Kagasoff.

   In "Ouija," a group of friends, including Olivia Cooke from TV's "Bates Motel", must confront their most terrifying fears after awakening the dark powers of an ancient spirit board.

    Lionsgate's action thriller "John Wick"is directed by first time feature directors Chad Stahelski & David Leitch and stars Keanu Reeves, Bridget Moynahan and Willem Dafoe.

   Reeves plays retired hit man John Wick, who returns to action after Russian mobsters kill his beloved dog.

   The Weinstein Company and Chernin Entertainment's PG-13 rated comedy "St. Vincent" is directed by first time feature director Theodore Melfi and stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts. It goes wide Oct. 24 after opening in limited release Oct. 10 and expanding Oct. 17.

   In "Vincent" a young boy with newly divorced parents finds an unlikely friend and mentor in his misanthropic neighbor Vincent (Murray).

   A24's R rated romantic comedy "Laggies" is directed by Lynn Shelton ("Touchy Feely") and stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Keira Knightley and Sam Rockwell.

   Knightley plays Megan, who's nearly 30 now but hasn't accomplished much yet in terms of a career or relationships. When her high school boyfriend Anthony (Mark Webber) asks her to marry him, she panics and hides out at the home of a new 16 year old friend Annika (Moretz) and the girl's single dad (Rockwell).

   Oct. 31 is Halloween, the perfect day for scary movies, so no wonder Hollywood has three of them on tap.

   Lionsgate will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its now classic R rated horror thriller "Saw" with a one-week nationwide reissue of the film. The film was originally released over Halloween weekend on October 29, 2004.

   Directed by James Wan, who's since directed the horror hits "The Conjuring" and "Insidious" and the action thriller "Fast & Furious 7" opening next Apr. 3, it stars Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell and Danny Glover. "Saw" sparked Lionsgate's first franchise and helped the independent distributor grow into a global studio.

   The franchise's seven episodes have grossed about $416 million domestically and about $874 million worldwide.

   "Saw" is described by Lionsgate as "a psychological thriller focusing on two men who wakes up in a secure lair of a serial killer, with a dead body lying between them. The killer, nicknamed 'Jigsaw,' leaves them tape recorded messages with details of how to make it out alive. The only way for one man to make it out alive is to do the unthinkable. The two men desperately try to find a way out, while also trying to figure out who's behind their kidnapping."

   Open Road Films' R rated dark psychological crime thriller "Nightcrawler" is directed by first time feature director Dan Gilroy and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and Bill Paxton.

   Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a young drifter in Los Angeles who accidentally discovers the new world of videography in which freelance "journalists" race to crime scenes and accidents to record and sell their grisly footage to television newscasts.

   Clarius Entertainment and Scott Free Productions' R rated mystery thriller "Before I Go to Sleep" is directed by Rowan Joffe ("Brighton Rock") and is based on the best-selling novel by S.J. Watson. Starring are Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.

   Kidman plays Christine Lucas, who awakens daily with no memories of the prior day thanks to a head injury she suffered in a traumatic accident. Her husband (Firth) must explain to her every day who she is and why she can't remember the past. When terrifying new truths unexpectedly emerge, Christine begins to question everyone around her.

   Bottom line: With so many films targeted to so many audiences coming up to bat in October, the boxoffice scoreboard could add up nicely.