October 2009 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 2, 2009

*Sent from my iPhone*

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5. Law Abiding Citizen (October 16th)

This month's Gerard Butler movie. Bleak thrillers have a habit of doing well in October, and this one seems to have assembled the right pedigree for such an enterprise, pairing Butler with Jamie Foxx and adding a backbone of a strong supporting cast (Viola Davis, Bruce McGill, and so on). Recent trailers start off like a more civilized Saw rip-off, before descending into a high-stakes action thriller; as a master builder of deadly traps, Butler seems to be playing an even less-humorous version of Ledger's Joker. That said, Law Abiding Citizen has enough of a big-scale feel to give both its stars a decent hit.

Opening weekend: $22 million / Total gross: $59 million

6. Toy Story / Toy Story 2 in 3-D(October 2nd)

Like ghosts from the past bearing warning of the future, the founding fathers of the decade in CGI return to stir the waters for next summer's Toy Story 3. While computer-generated Jabba the Hutts haven't been inserted into the background, this two-for-the price of one double-bill has been blessed with the gift of Disney Digital 3-D (if only all films could be so lucky). As such, the box office gets a bump by default. While it's hard to gauge exactly how big this combo will be, the oft-issued warning that this is a two week-only release out to drive up the initial numbers. Oh yeah, and Toy Story 3 is going to be massive.

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $52 million


7. Saw VI (October 23rd)

If we only count wide theatrical releases, the Saw pictures are notable as the first cinematic horror franchise in recorded box office history to release four films in four consecutive years (make that six for six now, a feat unlikely to be broken anytime soon). That's not just a record, it's a terrific release strategy: the Saw franchise has basically conditioned its fans to treat it like they would a beloved television series - every episode answers some questions and introduces new ones, and then you've gotta tune in same time, next year to find out more. Sure, every entry since part II has been making less than its predecessor. But when you start off at a high of $87 million, and your budget's something like $10 million, that's a long way down. Obviously, the "you won't believe how it ends"-tagged Saw V was not the final film (they meant you won't believe how the movie ends, stupid!), and Saw 7 and 8 have already been announced. After all, we wouldn't want anyone breaking that record.

Opening weekend: $25 million / Total gross: $49 million

8. The Stepfather (October 16th)

Another month, another '80s horror movie remake. But something is different now: the past several weeks delivered almost-unbelievably low box office for both Sorority Row and Jennifer's Body, two trashy sure-fire horror hits that performed like it was 2000, not 2009. That brings up the possibility that the mid-decade horror boom is at its end, and that a horror movie need do something other than simply exist in order to be a minor hit. On the plus side, the presence of Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley should help this, as should a generally TV-friendly cast (Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward). The trailer makes this out to be in the vein of all those silly, obvious PG-13 thrillers that spent the past five years opening between $15 million and $25 million. But times may have changed, and judged by the pre-2004 standard for predicting horror success or failure, this one doesn't rack up too highly. We shall see.

Opening weekend: $18 million / Total gross: $42 million

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