October 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 6, 2016


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While modern Octobers tend to launch numerous big players into the Oscar race, 2016 is different. With one potentially glaring exception, there are no films with plausible paths to awards glory, and strangely, not much in the way of horror, either, with most titles aiming for the kind of older audience that had few films to attend during the summer. October should also be the third (and last) month of 2016 without a single $300 million-grossing film on its tab. Enjoy it while you can.

1. Inferno (October 28th)
A month lacking in horror and awards contenders is a month that's also oddly saturated with relatively humorless adult-themed thrillers, exactly one per week, any one of which can frankly find itself as the month's biggest film (and it is one of those four that'll win the month, I'm pretty sure). Tom Hanks closes out the set with Inferno, which unfortunately is not a remake of Dario Argento's memorably baroque 1980 horror film of the same name. No, this Inferno is the third adaptation of Dan Brown's series about the carelessly absent-minded professor Robert Langdon, who keeps finding himself in the midst of the kind of extravagant conspiracies most other Harvard profs only dream of unraveling. Star Hanks and director Ron Howard collaborated on previous Dan Brown films The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, among other joint ventures, and re-team again now to adapt Brown's most recent book in the series, set once again in Italy, which apparently is home to many an ancient puzzle.

When it comes to the first two films, the box office went down (from $217 million to $133 mil) as the plots grew somehow even more absurd (the motivation and methodology of the villain in the second film were particularly remarkable), and Howard is coming off a slate of films - Frost/Nixon, Rush, In the Heart of the Sea - that I thought were well-made and interesting, but which basically left nary a mark on movie theaters. Hanks is given good support and paired here with Felicity Jones, who's about to headline a Star Wars film (what, another Star Wars film??? Was Episode 7 insufficient?). I think there are enough Dan Brown fans left, and Hanks just carried Sully to $100 million, so give Inferno enough gusto to maybe win the month, by a sliver, but it's a coin's toss between two other book-to-films and this one.

Opening weekend: $35 million / Total gross: $90 million


2. The Girl on the Train (October 7th)
The first weekend of October has indelibly been staked out as the prime launching pad for the big adult-aimed hit of the fall, given the presumably not coincidental recent succession of Argo, Gravity, Gone Girl, and The Martian, all released on roughly the same weekend. The Girl on the Train in particular follows the blueprint of the earlier Ben Affleck thriller from 2014. It, too, is based on a best-selling book, and also like Gone Girl, it contains a lead character who may or may not be a killer, a missing woman who may not be dead, and an ending that's thus inevitably a twist (haven't read, so no guarantees).

Early fall thrillers about domestic discord have a storied history, going back to Fatal Attraction (1987) or even the underseen Malice (1993), but enough about the past. The Train Girl's director, Tate Taylor, previously helmed the blockbuster The Help and the underrated Get on Up, making this a distinct change of pace. Star Emily Blunt seems to be riding a wave of goodwill to what may be her biggest role yet, and the supporting cast is deeply stacked, too, between rising actresses Hayley Bennett and Rebecca Ferguson as two other women crucial to the plot, and more unexpected casting like Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, and even Lisa Kudrow. So all good things, but early reviews are coming in on the lukewarm side, though there should still be enough inherent interest in its very popular source material to net the picture a strong opening weekend, even if it'll get overtaken by the month's collection of big-star thrillers as the days edge closer to All Hallow's Eve.

Opening weekend: $33 million / Total gross: $84 million

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