October 2015 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 1, 2015

I still make a better Steve Jobs than Ashton Kutcher.

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October 2015 seems planned out like an old double-bill line-up, with six A-list pictures headlining the first few weeks, and a whole pack of B-listers coming in below them in the last half (especially October 23rd, which appears to be getting no fewer than five, maybe six, wide releases inflicted upon it). This month, we're getting quality, quantity, and a decent chunk of horror movies for Halloween.

1. The Martian (October 2nd)

Sadly, this is not a film about a carnivorous red-skinned interplanetary invader who lands in a small Midwestern town, where he must be combatted by plucky locals as he seeks to fulfill his cryptic extraterrestrial mission. No, the title is pretty much the ultimate cheat, because The Martian turns out to be plain old Matt Damon, playing an earthling who is merely stuck on Mars and could use a little help getting home, and who can claim Martian citizenship neither by birth nor by naturalization. And rather than a science-fiction horror film, this is a tale of scientific ingenuity, triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversity, and the endurance of the human spirit, as well as all those other things people tend to turn out to the movies for.

The Martian is director Ridley Scott's follow-up to Exodus: Gods and Kings, a film that was, in my view, underrated, and that, in all views, underperformed. There's little mystery to this new movie, though, at least from a forecasting point of view: The Martian has already been viewed and reviewed, and very well at that, by a large enough quota of critics to matter. Some say it could be a serious awards contender, and it does have a good chance for a nod or two in the major categories. So success is assured, and the only question is just how much of a blockbuster performance it can deliver, especially in being launched over a release date that is increasingly becoming populated by adult-themed genre pieces with big stars (like Gravity in 2013 and Gone Girl last year). I don't think it'll top $50 million opening weekend, but it should have very good legs as the month proceeds, and for a few weeks there it'll probably be the first choice of just about all moviegoers over 30.

Opening weekend: $49 million / Total gross: $171 million


2. Crimson Peak (October 16th)

Director Guillermo del Toro returns with another classy-looking release, and, excluding genre-benders like Blade, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak is arguably his first straightforward horror film since The Devil's Backbone in 2001. He's got a big budget to spend this time, not to mention the backing of the year's singularly most successful studio, Universal. On the one hand, low-budget independent horror movies have always been the backbone of the genre (not to mention the breeding grounds for its top talent). On the other hand, once in a while, it's fun to see something like this film, which looks like a big-studio, big-star Hollywood horror show, a gothic ghost story set in a haunted house in nineteenth century England. The film arrives in a month that also gives us a Paranormal Activity sequel, the boy scout zombie fighting movie, and Goosebumps, but there's probably enough room for a more mature piece like this. Crimson Peak is headlined by Mia Wasikowska, still in ingénue mode, and opposite an appropriately Loki-ish Tom Hiddleston, a distinctly displeased-looking Jessica Chastain, and del Toro's Pacific Rim lead, Charlie Hunnam, also on hand; they're known enough to give Crimson Peak some drawing power, and if it's a good film (which is very possible, given the talent involved), it can certainly hold on even beyond the presumably teen-dominated opening weekend.

Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $95 million

3. Bridge of Spies (October 16th)

October has now become just about the prime month to launch Oscar contenders (the last three Best Pictures winners were all October releases). Bridge of Spies is set to premiere at the New York Film Festival, an almost irrefutable mark of quality, and given all the awards foreshadowing, it will likely be another top-notch film for adults, with Tom Hanks headlining a real-life '60s espionage tale, and none other than Steven Spielberg at the helm. The film is about the intricate negotiations leading to the release of Francis Gary Powers, the American pilot shot down in 1960 over USSR airspace. The release date is likely meant to mirror the October 2013 bow for Hanks' Captain Phillips, another true-life suspense thriller, and one that managed spectacular week-to-week holds all the way to $100 million. Spielberg's last Hanks-led film, The Terminal, took in $77 million in 2004, and Bridge of Spies does seem similarly low-key (I dare not say "low energy"!). Its generally action-less, detail-oriented plot might mean the movie will have more of a leggy run rather than an outright breakout, but given the names involved here, it's hard to predict low numbers.

Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $89 million

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