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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4. Steve Jobs (October 9th, limited; October 23rd, wide)

With the Ashton Kutcher biopic from 2013 now in the rearview mirror, this slick, big-studio iteration by director Danny Boyle is the film that will likely become the definitive take on Mr. Jobs. Steve Jobs is led by Michael Fassbender, who looks less like Jobs than Damon does a Martian, but whose performance has so far received universal critical acclamation (Fassbender and Eddie Redmayne may be the final two in this year's Best Actor bracket). Supporting work is given by Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, and Seth Rogen. The script is by Aaron Sorkin, whose work here has so far been praised as among his best, and the film will almost certainly function as a semi-sequel to Sorkin and director David Fincher's The Social Network. That film, by the way, was pretty leggy ($22 million open, $96 million finish. Not bad), and Steve Jobs ought to get to a similar benchmark, through perhaps with a slightly different series of steps (I think going to a wide release right away could have been a better idea). Even in a month with some other choice films for adults, this one should stick out.

Opening weekend: $19 million (wide) / Total gross: $83 million

5. Pan (October 9th)

Pan is a prequel to the famous Peter Pan story, and indeed it unofficially follows, in reverse chronology, Benjamin Button-style, two previous films: Peter Pan (2003), a straightforward retelling of the classic tale, and the one all millennial children remember, Hook (1991), with Robin William as an adult Peter. Semi-newcomer Levi Miller plays Peter here, and some choice names embody the story's other notables: Hugh Jackman, bearded and bald, is Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund is an extremely youthful Captain Hook, and Rooney Mara is the indigenous Tiger Lilly (that's funny, she looks exactly like I'd always imagined the character!). As with most of the month's other big films, Pan's review embargo has already been lifted, and early word is really mixed (American critics seem to like it less than English and Australian ones, if that means anything). Pan was pushed back from a competitive July spot to the more festive Halloween month, and it's possible that the seasonal touch will help a film that's just so full of bright colors and costumed tomfoolery. It's hard to peg down word-of-mouth, but Pan's appeal to children should give it a good go through the coming weeks, even with fellow traveler Goosebumps around going after its key young adult demographic.

Opening weekend: $27 million / Total gross: $81 million


6. Goosebumps (October 16th)

The month's other big children's film arrives a week after Pan, and may well begin an extended period of 1990s nostalgia (and there's surely nothing wrong with that). Goosebumps is an adaptation of the horror anthology book series that originally ran monthly from 1992 to 1997, and which has continued on with one spin-off or the other ever since. The books were highlighted by their memorably pulpy covers, and the film moves out more into tongue in cheek self-reference, with Jack Black playing series writer R. L. Stine opposite young stars Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush, all helmed here by Rob Letterman, who also directed Black's version of Gulliver's Travels. The film, perhaps wisely, is a greatest-hits showcase and not an adaptation of a single book: they threw in the abominable snowman, a shrunken head, malevolent garden gnomes, and Slappy, who's still the scariest ventriloquist's dummy out there. The tone is of a family-friendly horror comedy, a genre that really hasn't been dabbled in all too often (Disney's Hocus Pocus is one of the few that come to mind). In any case, Goosebumps should open well enough on name recognition alone, and the seasonally-appropriate release date was probably a good idea (like Pan, it was moved from a summer date; I'm sure it would have crushed Fantastic Four on its original August 7th). If Goosebumps is good, it could even stick around and give some of the month's more pompous titles a run for their money. With 182 books, one could hardly deny that there's infinite franchise potential here!

Opening weekend: $24 million / Total gross: $73 million

7. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (October 23rd)

Ever since they unseated Saw as America's annual Halloween horror tradition, the Paranormal Activity films have become the definitive horror franchise of the 2010s, for better or, certainly, for worse. More than any other, the series has helped influence so many of the horror films of the last five years (so much shaky-cam, so little time), and it's also one of the few horror franchises still putting out new sequels. Even if the title doesn't explicitly say so, this is number six. The last entry, released in January 2014, was marketed as the "Latino version", and it did just okay ($32 million, the series' lowest). The Ghost Dimension seeks to return more directly to the original story, if it can still be called that, given how many permutations in time, space, and meaning, these films have traversed. The bottom line is that like most recent entries, the newest Activity will open big enough, and then will travel to the box office nether. It could even be the last one, even if there's no exciting new horror series ready to take the helm for the month.

Opening weekend: $23 million / Total gross: $55 million

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