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October 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 2, 2009

*Sent from my iPhone*

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A particularly Halloween-dominated October is in store for 2009, with horror films and creepy children's fantasy lording over the proceedings. If that's not your bag, you still have the occasional comedy, action thriller, or Oscar film to keep you busy.

1. Couples Retreat (October 9th)

Never underestimate the power of a silly, cheesy, and potentially very entertaining comedy. This sunny resort epic follows a popular recent model for hit films: it's a broad comedy with a high concept premise, a few big name stars, and an oft-played trailer with a lot of money shots. Vince Vaughn leads the team of dysfunctional couples, and indeed spousal dysfunction is a genre he has dabbled in successfully before (The Break-Up, Four Christmases). Also on hand are perennial second banana Jason Bateman, rising starlets Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman, Sex and the City stalwart Kristin Davis, newly-minted blockbuster director Jon Favreau, and perpetually grumpy-looking French character actor Jean Reno. Something for everyone. Plus, the movie's got the weekend of the 9th all to itself. Nothing can stop Couples Retreat.

Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $102 million

2. Where the Wild Things Are (October 16th)

Now here is the month's wild card. This adaptation of the beloved 1963 children's book by Maurice Sendak could go one of three ways:

A. General box office failure ($30 million - $40 million), too weird and inexplicable-looking to mainstream audiences

B. Moderate success ($50 million - $80 million), spurred on by nostalgia and curiosity about the film's unique look and feel

C. Runaway hit ($100 million+), led by critical acclamation and children's delight with the enjoyably goofy-looking monsters running around on screen, just in time for Halloween

Clearly, the filmmakers are hoping for C. While I think the film's profile is too high for option A to be the right answer, I'm going to have to settle with B, especially since October isn't a great month for kids' movies, and there's certainly going to be some competition prowling out and about by the time Samhain rolls around.

Opening weekend: $28 million / Total gross: $75 million




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3. Michael Jackson: This Is It (October 28th)

... the month's second wild card. It's hard to say what this concert film, composed of rehearsal footage from Michael Jackson's last days, is going to turn out like. Directed by High School Musical-helmer Kenny Ortega, who worked on Jackson's planned This Is It tour, the result here appears to be both a tribute to Jackson and a recreation of the tour that never was. The possibility exists that This Is It will be very, very big, and the opening day is certainly going to be massive. But for now, I'll be conservative on this one's ceiling, though I admit $100 million is certainly not out of the question. The man had his fans, no doubt about that.

Opening weekend: $37 million / Total gross: $68 million

4. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (October 23rd)

Another dark fantasy for the younger set, this one based on a recent book series. And it's a property that has certainly gotten a top-flight adaptation, with scripting by Brian Helgeland, direction by Paul Weitz, and the presence of excellent character actor John C. Reilly in a meaty vampire role. While I'm not quite sure exactly how popular the Cirque du Freak series is, the film's move from the cold, empty fields of January to the bright, pumpkin-tinted region of October was probably a good idea (it's what I call a seasonal match), though the competition is fierce. Fans of the material should propel the opening weekend, and the often underserved Halloween-time demographic of ghouls, goblins, and assorted succubi (most of whom are too squeamish for Saw VI) will probably take care of the rest.

Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $64 million


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