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September 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

September 1, 2016

Magnificent?

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This September is a little harder to predict than most of the rest of the year, with the release of roughly a half-dozen films with great credentials and potential for long box office runs ( ...and one of them has Chris Pratt in it). The Oscar season launches again, as it must (must it?), but September 2015 failed to produce even a single film that received a nomination in the major categories, and something tells me this month isn't necessarily going to do much better (are you there, Hanks?).

1. The Magnificent Seven (September 23rd)

This remake of the 1960 film seems like the month's easy box office champion, but first, a recap: with Suicide Squad seeming to be on the verge of raking in $300 million after all, that gives 2016 eight $300 million grossers in as many months (easily beating 2015's new record of six. Easily!), and so the question is: Will the trend continue? Will four more films gross $300 million over the year's remaining four months? If there's a candidate this September, The Magnificent Seven must be the one. This is a film, after all, that combines the talents of one of the most consistent box office stars in recent film history, Denzel Washington, with the presence of Chris Pratt, an "up-and-coming" (lol) actor whose very existence seems to inspire cinemagoers to rush madly to the movie palaces and purchase as many tickets as legally possible (to restate the man's crimes: Pratt delivered a ridiculous $94 million opening to Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, before totally breaking the weekend record with Jurassic World less than a year later).




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Beyond the two leads, the Seven consist of a diverse array of cast, including Ethan Hawke (presumably as the nice-guy cowboy), Vincent D'Onofrio (not playing the villain, oddly), and Lee Byung-hun (who was the short-lived Terminator in last summer's new film), while mustache-twirler Peter Sarsgaard plays the villain, who must presumably be shot and killed for everyone in the film to be happy (by the way, to be a bit less charitable about it, if faced up against Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, what chance does Peter Sarsgaard really stand of making it through this one?).

Director Antoine Fuqua and star Washington recently teamed up for The Equalizer, which crossed $100 million, and this film follows the former's release strategy, premiering at TIFF and then opening wide towards the end of the month. Still, the September 23rd date is odd: isn't a summer opening more suitable for what will presumably be a sunny action-adventure with great location shots? Or how about a leggy December release date, the kind that did marvelous things for the True Grit remake? One theory of mine, however unlikely, is that the respective box office powers of Washington and Pratt will somehow cancel each other out. That's not plausible, I know, although there seems to be a rational limit to how much a generally-traditional western film can open with, even with such star power in tow. Then again, Pratt has redefined the rules as consistently as Washington has insisted upon them.

Opening weekend: $58 million / $165 million


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