“carrie” – In theaters October 18th

“Carrie” – In theaters October 18th

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney “Gravity”

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in “Gravity”

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

October overview: It's clear that "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" should help get October off on the "bright" foot at the boxoffice.

The 3D animated comedy from Columbia and Sony Pictures Animation, opening wide Friday, picks up where the 2009 original ended. It's tracking in double digits as an overall first choice, positioning it as a holdover September hit to launch October to strong ticket sales.

Directed by Cody Cameron (“Open Season 3”) & (first time feature director) Kris Pearn, "Cloudy 2" stars the voices of Bill Fader, Anna Faris and Will Forte. It's rated PG and tracking best with under-25 males and next best with under-25 females.

The franchise's first episode opened Sept. 18, 2009 to $30.3 million and wound up doing $124.9 million in domestic theatres.

The Story: Inventor Flint Lockwood (Hader) thought he saved the world by destroying his infamous invention that turned water into food, causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. When Flint learns his invention's survived and is now creating food-animals, he and his friends take on hungry taco-diles, shrimp-panzees and other food-imals to save the world once again!

Early October could also benefit from another September holdover -- Universal's wide release Friday of Ron Howard's R rated biographical action drama "Rush," starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl and Olivia Wilde.

"Rush" opened last weekend in exclusive engagements at five theatres in New York and Los Angeles and grossed an encouraging $199,956 (about $40,000 per theatre). It's tracking best and equally well with men under and over 25.

Here's a quick look at the wide releases to watch for at multiplexes in October:

Oct. 4 will see the PG-13 rated 3D sci-fi thriller "Gravity," a high profile film festival hit with Oscar potential, arrive in theatres from Warner Bros. and Heyday Films. Directed Alfonso Curaron, an Oscar nominee for directing “Children of Men,” it stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) and George Clooney (“Syriana”), who are the only actors seen during the film.

"Gravity's" tracking best with over-25 males and next best with under-25 males. After playing as the opening night selection at the Venice Film Festival in late August, "Gravity" screened at the Toronto Film Festival in mid-September. It was well received at both festivals and is on track now as a contender in what's shaping up to be an over-crowded and highly competitive awards season.

The Story: Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) when during a routine spacewalk disaster strikes, destroying the shuttle. Left tethered to nothing but each other, their only way home appears to be going further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

The weekend's other wide release is 20th Century Fox and New Regency's R rated crime thriller "Runner, Runner." Directed by Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer”), it stars Justin Timberlake, Gemma Arterton and Ben Affleck. "Runner's" tracking best with under-25 males and females under and over 25.

The Story: Believing he's been swindled, Princeton grad student Richie Furst (Timberlake) travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Affleck). Richie's seduced by promises of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about Block. When the FBI tries to force him to help bring Block down, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever.

Columbia Pictures' PG-13 biographical action drama "Captain Phillips" sails into theatres Oct. 11. Directed by Paul Greengrass, (“The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”), it stars Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener and Barkhad Abdi. "Phillips" should play well to 25-plus males, who like action films and Tom Hanks.

"Phillips" will be the opening night gala selection Friday at the New York Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 27 through Oct. 13 and is a high profile platform for potential awards contenders.

The Story: Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks) and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the first U.S. cargo ship to be seized in two hundred years.

Also arriving Oct. 11 is Relativity Media's PG-13 romantic drama “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Carlo Carlei (“The Flight of the Innocent”) and starring Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Paul Giamatti and Stellan Skarsgard. "Romeo" should be embraced by under-25 females.

The Story: Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers return with their enemy families and forbidden romance in this re-imagination written for the screen by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”).

Rounding out Oct. 11 is Open Road Films' R rated action crime thriller “Machete Kills,” directed by Robert Rodriguez (“Machete”) and starring Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega and Mel Gibson. "Kills" should play well to males under and over 25.

The franchise's first episode “Machete” opened Sept. 3, 2010 to $11.4 million and did $26.6 million in domestic theatres.

The Story: Machete (Trejo) is recruited by the government to stop an arms dealer in Mexico from launching a weapon into space.

Three wide releases will go head-to-head Oct. 18, competing for moviegoers' time and money.

MGM and Screen Gems' horror drama "Carrie," directed by Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don't Cry”), is based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King and stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore and Judy Green. It should play particularly well to under-25 females.

It's a reimagining of the 1976 horror classic directed by Brian De Palma who went on to make “Scarface,” and “The Untouchables”. The original starred Sissy Spacek in the title role, Piper Laurie (as Carrie's mother), Amy Irving and John Travolta. It did $33.8 million in domestic theatres, which was a sizable gross at the time.

The Story: Carrie White (Moretz), a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother (Moore), unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed to the breaking point by a humiliating prank at her senior prom.

The R rated biographical drama “The Fifth Estate” from DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media and Disney's Touchstone Pictures also hits theatres Oct. 18. Directed by “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 and Part 2” director Bill Condon, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl and Carice van Houten.

"Fifth" premiered earlier in September as the Toronto Film Festival's opening night film, putting it on track for serious awards consideration. Condon's a past Oscar winner – in 1999 for writing the adapted screenplay of “Gods and Monsters.” Look for "Fifth" to play well to 25-plus men and women.

The Story: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Bruhl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful, creating a platform for whistle-blowers to anonymously leak covert data about government secrets and corporate crimes. After gaining access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle one another, questioning the costs of keeping secrets in a free society versus the costs of exposing them.

Oct. 18 is also the launch pad for Summit Entertainment and Emmett/Furla Films' R rated action thriller "Escape Plan." Directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“The Rite”), it stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Escape” should do well with 25-plus males who grew up seeing now classic Hollywood blockbusters starring Stallone (like the “Rambo” franchise) and Schwarzenegger (like the "Terminator" franchise).

The Story: Ray Breslin (Stallone) is the world's foremost authority on structural security. After analyzing every high security prison so he can design one that's escape-proof, his skills are put to the test when he's framed and incarcerated in a master prison called The Tomb that he designed himself. Deciding to escape and find the person who double-crossed him, Ray enlists help from a fellow inmate (Schwarzenegger).

Two wide releases will end the month with Oct. 25 openings.

Adult male action fans will be the core audience for 20th Century Fox and Scott Free Productions' R rated crime thriller "The Counselor." Directed by three time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott (“Thelma & Louise,” “Gladiator” and “Black Hawk Down”), it stars Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt. Its original screenplay is by "No Country For Old Men" novelist Cormac McCarthy.

The Story: A lawyer (Fassbender), who gets into drug trafficking to pay his debts, soon discovers he's in way over his head.

Under-25 males will be the core audience for Paramount Pictures and MTV Films' comedy "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" from “Jackass” franchise director Jeff Tremaine.

The last "Jackass" franchise episode, “Jackass 3D,” opened Oct. 15, 2010 to $50.4 million and wound up grossing $117.2 million in domestic theatres.

The Story: Eighty-six-year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion -- his eight-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll), taking moviegoers along for an insane hidden camera road trip.

Bottom line: October's boxoffice should get an early boost from the force of "Gravity" and continuing "Cloudy" skies.