September 2015 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

September 3, 2015

Hey! They made it to the merge!

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3. Black Mass (September 18th)

The Oscar season starts at the Venice and Toronto festivals early in the month, but nationwide theaters have to wait until the 18th, with the presence of this film and several others being potent signifiers that awards forecasters are firmly back in business. Black Mass is headlined by a nearly-unrecognizable Johnny Depp, for whom this film marks perhaps the first step to an almost-cyclical career re-invention. And it couldn't come any sooner, either, a mere eight months after what was almost certainly Depp's very worst film, Mortdecai (although he's quite lucky that no one has seen it, so does it really exist?). The background intel on Black Mass seems promising enough: it is directed by Scott Cooper, helmer of the meaty, gritty Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace, it is based on a still-living and notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger (apparently not his real first name), and it co-stars some choice supporting actors, like Benedict Cumberbatch (always an ex-mark for awards attention), S&M enthusiast Dakota Johnson, and the increasingly ubiquitous Corey Stoll and Joel Edgerton. In short, it looks like a reasonable launching pad for box office and critical success, and Depp definitely has a shot at an Oscar nomination, even if I don't think he'll go all the way and take it home this year (I'm betting on Eddie Redmayne again).

Opening weekend: $19 million / Total gross: $65 million


4. The Walk (September 30th)

The Walk and Everest seem like stylistically very different films, but it's interesting that these two tales of gut-wrenching human endurance are opening just about back-to-back this month. The Walk is a recreation of the most famous feat of stunt performer Philippe Pettit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who walked on a high-wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974, an act which is sure to inspire a sustained 30-minute sequence of suspense late in the film, even if most of the running time will probably be spent on his presumably arduous prep work. Like the two films it's sandwiched in between on this list, The Walk comes with impeccable, awards-minded credentials, like director Robert Zemeckis and supporting actor Ben Kingsley. It headlines the New York Film Festival earlier that week, but the Wednesday opening is still odd. If reviews are strong and the film is properly portentous and suspenseful, it should have some solid legs, even if it doesn't win its weekend.

Opening weekend: $20 million (5-day) / Total gross: $65 million

5. Everest (September 18th)

This harrowing-looking drama is another gritty, adult-aimed film, in a month that's seriously making a play for that often-ignored demographic. There's a cheerful IMAX documentary of the same name that has so far grossed $87 million, but this film is about a tragic and ill-fated expedition from 1996 (google it if you want to know the ending). The actors - Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, and John Hawkes among them - aren't huge box office draws, but their names help highlight the film, and there's some strong early buzz from festival screenings. Everest opens only in IMAX during its first week, and like a few other films this season, it should build on good legs for a long run. As odd as it is, there's a real chance that it won't outgross the Everest IMAX documentary, which has the advantage of having been playing somewhere or other for 17 years now.

Opening weekend (in wide release): $16 million / Total gross: $62 million

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