October is settling into a pattern of mild disappointment for films' performances, with what's being put out there having the ... appearance of hits, but somehow falling short of actually being a hit. That continues this weekend with one of the stranger premises for an action movie in some time - and this in a year with Hardcore Harry.
Weekend Forecast for October 14-16, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
October 14, 2016
Ben Affleck stars in The Accountant, a title that sounds like it's an SNL parody, playing an auto-didact forensic accountant somewhere on the autism spectrum who cooks the books for some very shady characters. Tasked to find the root of some corruption at a robotics company, he uncovers a conspiracy that puts him in danger, along with the employee (Anna Kendrick) who first spotted the evidence of it. As assassins head his way, Affleck retreats to his Batman-like (*cough*) hideout, where he makes a stand, with his unusual focus proving to be an asset in fending off bad guys – including being able to hip-fire a .50 sniper rifle (maybe he's Master Chief?).
Playing the character with a strange, flat performance, highlighted only by a series of Rain Man-lite quirks, Affleck is a curious choice for this role, given that most of his appeal is based on his smarmy charm. This gimmick, despite its oddness as a premise (quick, think of a profession that sounds less intimidating in this place – even “The Florist” would have a kind of backwards toughness) may be enough to attract in the smallish audience. Reviews aren't kind, and director Gavin O'Connor has nothing in his past to really point to this being a hidden gem. Affleck doesn't have much of a recent track record to base his appeal on, though the hope here is that his return to blockbusters via the DC Extended Universe has brought him back as a draw. Let's ask Chris Hemsworth about that... oh. The best comparison here in recent films is maybe The Town, but even that's a stretch. One might feel more comfortable reaching into the bad Ben Affleck days, like Reindeer Games or Paycheck.
With a high-profile ad campaign, it's got a chance, but this seems destined to a mid-teens opening weekend, with $17 million most likely.
The comedy concert film has been, for the most part in recent years, something of an abandoned genre. With the exception of some ensemble tours, almost no one has even attempted to take their material to the big screen. It's not hard to understand why – stand up comedy doesn't really require a big screen to be enjoyed, and the glut of stand-up comedy available now takes away the need for it. One big exception lately: Kevin Hart.
While his first concert film, Laugh At My Pain, was a modest earner, after hitting the big time with his movie career, 2013's Let Me Explain made $32 million. Now comes What Now? which blends his stand-up material with a action-movie prologue, padding it out by 15 minutes or so. Exactly why is a bit of a mystery, but it has the benefit of never having been done before. Among the guest stars he's roped into this are Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Ed Helms for some reason. Is the gimmick enough to expand his audience from previous concert films, making it more of an event? Has his continued success, with the Ride Along films, and Central Intelligence, increased his fanbase over all? These are the two big questions surrounding this release. I expect a small increase from his last film's opening weekend, to the tune of about $12 million.
Lastly, we have Max Steel, a hilariously literal title for a teen-focused sci-fi film about a teenager named Max who can channel a secret energy and an alien named Steel. Max and Steel team up together to fight those who would want to use their powers for evil, as well as a threat from across the galaxy. A mix of The Last Starfighter and Voltron, it's a bit of a dump on the market with no big names in its lead roles and is really only notable for its screenwriter having written the Thor films. This will be forgotten soon with about a $3 million opening weekend.
Last weekend's champ, The Girl on the Train, lived down to expectations with a $24 million opening weekend, falling behind several other literary thrillers in their transition to the big screen. I do wonder if being a female-led film hurt it somewhat, as compared to Gone Girl or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, both of which had male leads front and center despite their strong female parts. I expect about $15 million this weekend for it.
Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children had a steep drop in its second weekend, getting chopped in half to $15 million and crossing the $50 million mark. Tim Burton's latest fantasy has performed better than some of his recent outings, but still leaves him well short of his career highs, and this looks to peter out at about $80 million. Deepwater Horizon had a smaller drop to $11 million, and looks to be headed to about the same mark, starting with an $8 million weekend here. Following in behind this we have The Magnificent Seven and Storks, each earning about $5 million this frame.