October 2015 Box Office Forecast
By Michael Lynderey
October 1, 2015
8. Burnt (October 23rd)
This film about a chef was, indeed, originally titled "Chef", and has presumably been renamed to avoid confusion with Jon Favreau. The name almost doesn't matter, because Burnt is a movie that seems to be marketed directly on one man's sheer star power: all three Burnt posters listed on poster powerhouse impawards.com are comprised simply of their leading man, Bradley Cooper, standing alert and staring directly at the consumer (in two of them, he is in the foreground of a kitchen; in the third, he seems to inhabit an empty grey space, perhaps another planet?). So little is known about Burnt's prospects, indeed, that I've even heard some vague Oscar buzz, though that might be more of a general reflex to Bradley Cooper's existence than anything else (he's been nominated three years in a row now, and Supporting Actor for Joy might make it four this year). Awards or not, Cooper's star power does hold up: he carried American Sniper to its status as the biggest movie of 2014. On the other hand, he didn't save Aloha from its unkind fate in May, and, unlike the sniper film, he doesn't shoot anyone from a large distance in this one, either (or if he does, it isn't in any of the ads). There are some noted supporting actors here (Uma Thurman, Lily James), but Burnt is all about the man above the title, and so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $45 million
9. Our Brand is Crisis (October 30th)
Like The Walk, David Gordon Green's Our Brand is Crisis is a fictionalization of a documentary (in this case, one with the exact same name). It's a political drama with bits of comedy and satire, about American campaign managers hired to manipulate a contentious and potentially revolutionary South American election. I'm sure the political commentary is meant to have local relevance, too, and the film is perhaps timed to coincide with the presidential election season (though you could probably say that about any movie released at any time). Early word from the Toronto festival is not particularly positive, though the praise for star Sandra Bullock's performance has been unanimous. Adults looking for serious fare have a lot of flashier options out there this month, but Bullock is still one of the few really big ticket draws, and a respectable box office showing is the least we can expect (demand?) from her.
Opening weekend: $12 million / Total gross: $34 million
10. The Last Witch Hunter (October 23rd)
With a title that recalls Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, this is one of those time-bending action horror fantasy adventures studios have been making since roughly Underworld days in 2003. Vin Diesel headlines here as the lonesome title character, opposite Michael Caine and Elijah Wood. These R-rated supernatural shoot-em-ups do well on occasion - especially if they're a brand name like Resident Evil - but I'm not sure there's enough of a demand for The Last Witch Hunter, which isn't based on a video game, a graphic novel, or even on an obscure manga. And while Diesel is a big name, The Last Witch Hunter seems likely to follow closely in the path of Dracula Untold, another horror-adventure that opened last year at Octobertime without much of a breakout. Giving it a rough guess, the film may come in somewhere along the lines of some of Diesel's other recent non-car-related action adventures, most likely smack dab in between his Babylon A.D. ($22 million total) and Riddick ($42 million).
Opening weekend: $11 million / Total gross: $32 million
11. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (October 30th)
Rounding out the month and bowing the day before Hallowe'en, this is a horror comedy whose title has unfortunately been devolved from the far superior, near-perfect, bluntly correct, "Scouts vs. Zombies", and into a longer and less precisely memorable iteration. Either way, Scouts Guide is a picture that seems to have been designed as a cult film right from the start, and has even been marketed as such, with short and memorably off-beat trailers featuring a plethora of inventive zombie attacks. Comedy aside, this is a hard R film, the kind of rating that will prevent, or at least curtail, attendance by at least one of the groups mentioned in the film's title. And the October 30th date almost guarantees a lower-than-expected weekend for just about any challenger. On the plus side, the human cast does feature Tye Sheridan, an excellent young actor making a transition from some very well received indie films and into leading a mainstream studio film (if you can call this zombie picture that), as well as some reliable comic performers like David Koechner and Cloris Leachman (a real trooper if there ever was one!). It may not win the month, or even make October 2015's top 10, but I imagine the film might enjoy the company of many midnight basement viewings in years to come.
Opening weekend: $8 million / Total gross: $25 million