September 2017 Box Office Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

September 7, 2017

Eddie the Eagle, Mr. Darcy and Oberyn Martell walk into a bar...

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5. American Made (September 29th)
Tom Cruise reteams with Doug Liman to play real-life 1980s narcotics runner and DEA conjugant Barry Seal, who met his end about three months before Tom Cruise shot into the stratosphere with Top Gun (no, that fact has no particular resonance, other than the lesson that becoming a huge movie star is a better career choice than a tawdry drug dealer). Sarah Wright plays the edgy love interest and Jayma Mays is the quirky, nice one Seal leaves behind (or so I'm guessing: typecasting), while George W. Bush is portrayed as a supporting character ("miss me yet?").

The film trailer plays like a kind of outlaw drug caper with bursts of action and a hint of comedy, or at least satire, somewhere along the tonal lines of American Hustle or The Big Short. On a positive note, after film critic screenings under the cover of darkness, the film has already received solid reviews, right along or just above the three star range (out of four!). This is good news, because with this title, Cruise is breaking his usual one-film-a-year standard by reappearing so very soon after June's The Mummy. It's his chance to make things up to us.

Opening weekend: $15 million / Total gross: $45 million


6. Flatliners (September 29th)
Flatliners dutifully replicates the title letter by letter, though it is actually billed as a sequel to the Joel Schumacher film, with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his role, all the better to help explain the plot with. In 2017 as in 1990 before it, medical students scientifically shock each other into death's embrace, take in a view of the afterlife, and then make their return (... or... do they?). Flatliners was more than respectable in August 1990, opening with $10 million and finishing with $61 million (believe it or not; such legs were not atypical then). It was also one of Julia Roberts' first big movies, reasonably sandwiched in between Pretty Woman (a juggernaut!) and Sleeping with the Enemy (a bad habit). Ellen Page headlines this time as the lead instigator of ghostly troubles, with a hodgepodgic cast that includes Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Diego Luna (who was in last year's biggest movie... yes, that franchise again), and Kiersey Clemons, who's getting more and more genre work these days.

On the one hand, in a month so thoroughly dominated by a specific horror film with a very short title, Flatliners certainly has competition. On the other, the release date, between IT (the film) and Halloween (the holiday), is reasonable; and given its credentials and advertising, Flatliners ought to play like your friendly neighborhood Screen Gems teen-aimed thriller, with a likely PG-13 rating and Ringesque ghosts vanishing into the walls and re-emerging from every manner of crevice to let us know they're still angry.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $43 million

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