September Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

October 5, 2017

Whiteface competition winner.

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7) Wind River

Monthly Total: $20.2 million

The latest project from Taylor Sheridan, his directorial debut, and the conclusion of his American Frontier trilogy (they just make these franchises up now), Wind River is one of those summer counter programming films that can sneak under the radar. While it will probably be forgotten at Oscar season, this is one of those films that is a nice palate-cleanser with nary a trace of CGI. After playing for two months, this has accrued a bit over $30 million, triple its budget, and is the biggest hit of the year for The Weinstein Company. I’m surprised Tulip Fever did not do better myself.

8) Annabelle: Creation

Monthly Total: $19.8 million

The number one film from August had a bit of staying power in September, enough to bring it just over $100 million, and keeping that month from being the first August in years without a film breaking the century mark. Annabelle: Creation continues the streak of James Wan when it comes to shepherding good horror films into production, and will finish neck and neck with Conjuring 2 on the domestic front. Surprisingly, these films also play very well internationally, as this will earn over $300 million worldwide, joining both Conjuring films in that club. Most horror films are lucky just to match their domestic box office on the international side, but these creepy ghost stories seem to do the trick.

9) mother!

Opening Weekend: $7.5 million
Monthly Total: $15.9 million

I am perplexed by Darren Aronofsky and his most recent film. On the one hand, his movies never were huge hits until Black Swan broke out big time, earning over $100 million and more than quadrupling his previous high water mark with The Wrestler. But perhaps the goodwill from that only afforded him one Noah, which likewise earned just over $100 million, yet had a much chillier reception than Natalie Portman’s descent into madness. Given that Jennifer Lawrence might be the biggest female star in Hollywood right now, you would have thought mother! would have debuted higher, with steep drop-offs in the following weekends. Perhaps the movie should have platformed in December, rather than opening wide in the typically dead month of September. Either way, this one will probably go down as a big disappointment, although the most vociferous Facebook chatter about any film this month was for mother!, with many saying it deserved more respect. I would have seen it, but then I saw a balloon floating near a gutter drain.


10) Leap!

Monthly Total: $14.3 million

Not the long awaited sequel to Billy Elliot, this is instead highly generic CG animated fare from the Weinstein’s of all people. Well, they distributed it, but if you look at the animated movies the Weinstein’s distribute, it appears that is their Achilles heel when it comes to good taste. Then again, independent 3D-animated movies have not done so well in general. Also, movies with exclamation points in their titles are doomed to failure. There is good news, though, since this film was a French production it has earned far more overseas and will probably recoup its costs.

By virtue of this past weekend having a day in October, American Made falls just outside the top ten for September, but it seems like it is doing decently for a recent Tom Cruise film. It is on the lower end of his fare, being just above Jack Reacher, but perhaps the good reviews will give it some legs. Because we all know Tom Cruise don’t need no butt. As a matter of curiosity, the remake of Flatliners opened lower than the 1990 original (which itself was not remembered as a real classic, sorry Flatliners fans!), but how can Ellen Page and Diego Luna compete with Julia Roberts and Kevin Bacon? For the top ten list of movies that opened in September, after American Made and Flatliners add Friend Request and Battle of the Sexes, one of which might end up on next month’s list (guess which one!).

This September will rightly be remembered for one big reason, and that is IT. Forever doomed to create awkward grammatical issues, IT took full advantage of the large void that has persisted in movie theaters the past couple of months. People were aching to get away from hurricanes and into movie theaters, they just needed a good reason to do it. No, IT. I just call it the scary clown movie. The top twenty films of September earned about $613 million, which is a hair above what August could muster. Although August usually earns about twice as much as September in grosses, recent years have shown just how much mankind has changed the movie climate. In 2015 and this year, September movies earned more than August films, and one big film can tip the balance. Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad buoyed their month’s totals in 2014 and 2016, whereas 2015 had no huge hits in August (the biggest being Straight Outta Compton), and this year had IT in September. Maybe the lesson is that it ain’t the month, it’s the movie. No, IT’s the movie.

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