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MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT -- OCTOBER OUTLOOK -- 10/3/16


 
INFERNO - TOM HANKS AND FELICITY JONES

INFERNO - TOM HANKS AND FELICITY JONES

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN - EMILY BLUNT

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN - EMILY BLUNT

JACK REACHER - TOM CRUISE (LEFT)

JACK REACHER - TOM CRUISE (LEFT)

MARTIN GROVE'S HOLLYWOOD REPORT --

OCTOBER OUTLOOK  -- 10/3/16

 

October outlook: October will bring multiplexes a mix of pictures as early awards hopefuls, action adventures, thrillers, comedies and horror films compete for moviegoers' time and money.

That makes it a something-for-everyone kind of month, which is usually a good combination for Hollywood. With the last few weekends having under-performed at the boxoffice, a strong October could help get the year-to-date back on track.

Here's a quick look at the range of wide openings heading our way in the next four weeks:

         OCT. 7-9: Universal and DreamWorks Pictures' R rated action thriller "The Girl on the Train," opening at about 3,000 theatres, is directed by Tate Taylor ("The Help") and stars Haley Bennett, Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux. It should play best to adult women.

         Blunt plays Rachel, who commutes by train every day, passing her old house where her ex-husband still lives with his new family. She imagines their neighbors, Megan and Scott Hipwell (Bennett and Luke Evans), to be the perfect happy family.

         When Megan suddenly goes missing, Rachel becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her -- and what she, herself, was up to the night Megan disappeared.

         Another missing-girl thriller, "Gone Girl," opened Oct. 3, 2014 to $37.5 million and did $167.8 million domestically.

         Fox Searchlight Pictures and Mandalay Pictures' R rated pre-Civil War set biographical drama "The Birth of a Nation," opening at about 2,000 theatres, is from actor-producer-writer-director Nate Parker. It's one of the first strong Oscar hopefuls to surface this fall and is opening wide rather than on the limited release pattern plus expansions that awards contenders usually receive. It should play best to adult moviegoers who want to get a head start on awards contenders.

         Parker plays Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner (Armie Hammer) uses Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against himself and other slaves, Nat orchestrates an uprising, hoping to lead his people to freedom.

         "Nation" created a strong awards buzz last January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Searchlight acquired the film's worldwide distribution rights at Sundance for a record setting $17.5 million.

         Besides the love it got from Sundance audiences and critics, "Birth" also benefited from arriving at a time when Academy members are trying to be more diverse in their nominations after well deserved criticism for their lack of diversity in recent years.

         What no one anticipated was that a media firestorm would surface focusing on a 17 year old rape accusation case involving Parker and his screenwriting partner, Jean McGianni Celestin, when they were students at Penn State. As has been reported, Parker was acquitted of all charges at the time and Celestin's initial conviction was overturned on appeal and was not retried.

         How or if this affects the film's boxoffice performance and its awards potential is anyone's guess right now. There were strong concerns before it played last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, but "Nation" was well received. If it opens well this weekend, that should help its awards prospects.

         Another slave driven drama, "12 Years a Slave," opened Oct. 18, 2013 to $923,715 at just 19 theatres and went on to do $56.7 million domestically. It won three Oscars in 2014, including best picture.

         Lionsgate and CBS Films' PG rated comedy "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life," opening at about 2,600 theatres, is directed by Steve Carr ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop") and stars Lauren Graham, Griffin Gluck and Rob Riggle. It should play best to young moviegoers who remember middle school fondly or otherwise.

         Rafe Katchadorian (Gluck), an imaginative quiet teenager, is tired of his middle school's obsession with the rules at the expense of creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his friends come up with a plan – to break all the school's rules and let the students run wild!

         "Mall Cop" opened Jan. 16, 2009 to $31.8 million and did $146.3 million domestically. "Mall Cop 2," opened Apr. 17, 2015 to $23.8 million and did $71 million domestically.

         OCT. 14-16: Warner Bros. and Electric City Entertainment's R rated crime thriller "The Accountant" is directed by Gavin O'Connor ("Jane Got a Gun") and stars Anna Kendrick, Ben Affleck and Jon Bernthal. It should play best to adult men.

         Affleck plays Chris, who's apparently a small-town accountant, but actually is working for some very dangerous criminal organizations. When Treasury Department Crime Enforcement Division head Ray King (J.J. Simmons) starts closing in, Chris picks up a legitimate client – but then an accounting discrepancy surfaces involving millions of dollars and a rising body count to go with them.

         Universal's R rated documentary comedy "Kevin Hart: What Now?" is directed by Leslie Small & Tim Story, who directed the 2013 documentary comedy "Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain." Starring are: Kevin Hart, Halle Berry and Don Cheadle. It should play best to men under 25.

         This live outdoor performance by Kevin Hart was filmed with an audience of about 50,000 people at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.

         "Explain" opened July 3, 2013 to $10 million and did $32.2 million domestically.

         Open Road Films' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure "Max Steel" is directed by Stewart Hendler ("Sorority Row") and stars Ben Winchell, Josh Brener and Maria Bello. It should play best to under-25 men.

         Winchell plays teenager Max McGrath, who finds that his body can now generate the universe's most powerful energy. Max must bond with the only being able to contain all that energy -- a strange techno-organic extraterrestrial called Steel. Together, they become a new superhero, Max Steel, and must confront an alien menace.

         OCT. 21-23: Paramount and Skydance Productions' action adventure "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" stars Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders and Robert Knepper and is from Edward Zwick, director of "Defiance," "The Last Samurai" and "Blood Diamond."

         In the franchise's new episode, Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher returns to his old military unit's headquarters and finds himself accused of a 16-year-old homicide.

         "Jack Reacher" opened Dec. 21, 2012 to $15.2 million and did $80.1 million domestically.

         Universal, Blumhouse Productions, Platinum Dunes and Hasbro's PG-13 rated supernatural horror thriller "Ouija: Origin of Evil" is directed by Mike Flanagan ("Before I Wake") and stars Doug Jones, Henry Thomas and Elizabeth Reaser. It should play best to young women, who are typically the core audience for horror films.

         It's based on Hasbro's board game "Ouija." The film's producing team boasts major horror genre credentials -- Michael Bay ("Ouija," "The Purge"), Andrew Form ("Ouija," "The Purge"), Brad Fuller ("Ouija," "The Purge"), Jason Blum ("Paranormal Activity" franchise, "The Purge" "Insidious," "Ouija"), Brian Goldner ("Ouija") and Stephen Davis ("Ouija").

         "Origin" takes place in 1965 Los Angeles where a widowed mom and her two daughters invent a new stunt to boost their phony séance business – unknowingly bringing evil into their home. After a merciless spirit takes control of the youngest daughter, the family must save her and drive her possessor back to the "other side."

         "Ouija" opened Oct. 24, 2014 to $19.9 million and did $50.9 million domestically.

         Lionsgate and The Tyler Perry Company's PG-13 rated horror comedy drama "Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween" is written and directed by Tyler Perry (the "Madea" franchise), who also stars in it with Bella Thorne and Brock O'Hurn. It should play best to young adult moviegoers eager to get an early start celebrating Halloween.

         Perry as Madea spends a horribly haunted Halloween dealing with killers, poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies as well as some very misbehaving teenagers.

         With Halloween falling on Monday, Oct. 31 this year, it's good timing for "Origin" and "Madea Halloween" to be opening Oct. 21. The target audiences for Halloween movies tend to be busy partying on Halloween, itself, so getting into the marketplace a week pre-Halloween is a smart idea.

         20th Century Fox and Fox 2000 Picture' PG-13 rated action comedy "Keeping Up With the Joneses" is directed by Greg Mottola ("Paul") and stars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and in next June's "Wonder Woman"), Isla Fisher and Patton Oswalt. It should play best to young adult moviegoers.

         It's the story of a suburban couple who get mixed up in international espionage when they learn their "perfect" new neighbors are really spies.    

         OCT. 28-30: Columbia and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13 rated mystery thriller "Inferno" has October's last weekend entirely to itself in terms of wide release competition, a good indication of the boxoffice heat it's expected to generate.

         Based on the best selling novel by "The DaVinci Code" author Dan Brown, it's from two-time Oscar winner Ron Howard, director of "A Beautiful Mind." Starring are Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones and Ben Foster. It should play best to adult moviegoers.

         Hanks, a two time Oscar winner, returns as symbologist Robert Langdon, who after awakening in an Italian hospital with amnesia teams up with a doctor (Jones) he hopes will help him recover his memory. Together, they race against the clock to stop a madman from unleashing a deadly global virus.

         "Code" opened May 19, 2006 to $77.1 million and did $217.5 million domestically. A second Langdon film from a Dan Brown novel, "Angels & Demons," opened May 15, 2009 to $46.2 million and did $133.4 million domestically.

Bottom line: Some months benefit from starting with a holdover hit that opened to huge ticket sales just as the preceding month was ending. November's likely to be one of those months thanks to "Inferno," but October isn't.

Last weekend's boxoffice action was down about 24.6 percent from this time last year – about $114.2 million vs. $151.5 million, including a $54.3 million blockbuster launch for "The Martian" and a $33.2 million second weekend for "Hotel Transylvania 2," according to comScore.

Last weekend's chart topper was 20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment and Tim Burton Productions PG-13 rated fantasy adventure "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" with a better-than-expected $28.5 million.

Second place went to Lionsgate, Participant Media and Summit Entertainment's PG-13 rated action thriller "Deepwater Horizon" with $20.6 million, which also was a better-than-expected launch.

MGM, Columbia and Village Roadshow's PG-13 rated action western "The Magnificent Seven" finished third in its second week with $15.7 million (down 55 percent) and a domestic cume of $61.6 million.

The year-to-date, per comScore, is now ahead by just 4.6 percent -- $8.64 billion vs. $8.26 billion. Last week, 2016 was up 5.1 percent over 2015. That was down from a 5.4 percent lead the prior weekend and from 5.7 percent the weekend before that.