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October 2016 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 6, 2016

Mansplaining.

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3. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (October 21st)
A month that is surprisingly strong on star power has a film each by both of the biggest movie star Toms of all time, Hanks and Cruise. The original Jack Reacher was based on a popular character who didn't particularly resemble its cinematic leading man, but it was a strong thriller and played reasonably well over the holiday season in 2012, opening with $15 million and finishing with $80 million (now that's a multiplier). A sequel was uncertain, but the gang is back together for another story, one that doesn't seem to adapt any book in the series in particular. Retaining his star power, Cruise has spent the 2010s delivering roughly one mid-level successful thriller a year, like Edge of Tomorrow and Knight and Day, with the Mission: Impossible films being his decade's high points. As in those films and the first Reacher, he's paired here with a rising actress, Cobie Smulders, and sent on a mission to deal with a corrupt and/or malicious system which appears to have framed him for murder (which, as it happens, is more or less the plot of the Hanks film, too; to be fair, it happens all the time - who among us hasn't been wrongfully accused of homicide?). I think audiences have pretty good memories of the first Jack Reacher, but it's hard to say how this type of thriller will play out over its late October slot, and it's going to be the third entry in its genre in as many weeks, to boot. Still, Cruise is an icon for a reason, and I may be low-balling this one more than a bit.

Opening weekend: $28 million / Total gross: $84 million




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4. Boo! A Madea Halloween (October 21st)
In a change of pace, this forecast will include no ironic comments whatsoever, a pre-amble I must make because I want to declare right here that Boo! A Madea Halloween is, really, truly, madly, deeply, my single most anticipated film of the fall (where you expecting, perhaps, critical darlings like Manchester by the Sea, or Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk? Sad people getting over their problems? What kind of a sadist would be anticipating seeing that?).

I mean, really, how could the film aim for anything but greatness? It combines two of my very favorite things: Madea, the rambunctious and occasionally gun-toting matriarch embodied by Tyler Perry through roughly a dozen film comedies from 2005 to 2013, and Halloween, the holiday which through the centuries has transmogrified from the Celtic end-of-harvest festival Samhain and was then brought onto North American shores, in gradation, throughout the 19th century. Perry's A Madea Christmas, the most recent in the series, did pretty well in 2013 ($52 million total), and after Perry's The Single Moms Club (March 2014), it seems he and his home studio, Lionsgate, took a little break from his writer-director films for a while, until now.

So, Perry's audiences have experienced a three-year drought, and one can assume they'll turn out in respectable numbers for his comeback. And if not, they should. Really, how much more clearly can I express my enthusiasm? I mean, the plot summary declares that this October will find Madea in combat with "misbehaving teens... killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies" (!!!). I believe it, because the first poster is really an absolutely brilliant parody on the most famous poster for the film Halloween (1978) - and I demand you google it - while one of the very latest posters features a haughty Madea holding her chainsaw while blood spatters cover her trademark matron's glasses. When I first got into horror movies as a very young child in the 1990s, an image like that is the kind that inflamed my imagination the most. And really, if you can't appreciate the warped grotesquery of a film like this, what's the point of going to the movies at all? Just to see Billy Lynn cry?

Opening weekend: $28 million / Total gross: $65 million (too low!)




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5. The Accountant (October 14th)
The second big thriller of the month is a nice movie star role for Ben Affleck, who's otherwise bogged down fighting extra-terrestrial threats in Batman movies on the one hand (he's just finished work on Justice League), and re-creating the dramatic past in more serious awards contenders on the other (his Live By Night is due in December). The Accountant is the kind of film that fits squarely in between. Affleck plays a professional man targeted by some of his more sinister-minded clientele, whom he proceeds to kill until enough have died for the film to be over, in what seems from the trailer like kind of a riff on Denzel Washington's The Equalizer (a film that proved decisively that Washington would make a pretty good Jason Voorhees, if he ever wants the job). The supporting cast is as lively as one can get for this somewhat gray-looking film, with Anna Kendrick as the love interest, J.K. Simmons as the leader of the distinguished opposition (this is the person Affleck has to kill the most), and Jon Bernthal as his best assassin (to be honest, of these three character descriptions, I'm kind of assuming on those last two). The Accountant is not based on a book or a show or on anything else except for a profession, but the trailers are brisk and to the point enough to let us know what we're getting, and good reviews can give an uptick to the below number.

Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $56 million


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