October 2017 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 5, 2017

Harrison is outrunning Ryan.

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The grotesques invade the movie screens this Hallowe'en. And while science fiction fanboy nirvana is poised to rule the month, and will, scrappy horror challengers aim to nibble away at its feet - Madeas, John Saws, killers in pig masks, and malevolent snowmen all wait in the shadows to take the runner down.

1. Blade Runner 2049 (October 6th)
In what is the month's queen bee and assumed sole $100 million earner, Ryan Gosling must navigate a futuristic world and its colorful supporting characters (Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, and Robin Wright are on standby), before reaching Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard and discovering the answer to whatever question he had presumably posed at film's beginning (you only get one, so make it count, Gosling!).

The first film, which I saw one time ten years ago, was a respectable science fiction entertainment with the expected thematic points about whether a robot can ever hope to be human instead of a card-carrying member of the Machine Empire. As I understand it, fans of the original appreciate the 1982 film's special effects and set design, most of which are a trademark of Blade Runner's helmer, Ridley Scott, who began in commercials and carried over their sense of style. Blade Runner, set in 2019, was also noted for its genre-defining vision of a vaguely dystopian future of Babel-tall buildings and mega-screen advertising (personally, futuristic/alternate world films that I think are a bit more topical are V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and the little-seen 1981 Shock Treatment, a musical that managed to foresee so many things).

Now, after many years, a sequel emerges and that's all good, but though its fans might not mind, Blade Runner 2049 has been completed at an inhumane length of two hours and forty three minutes, projected on a giant numbing IMAX screen pitched at highest sharpest decibel. And in a year that has already given us such gems as 2 hours and 15 minutes (Logan), 2 hours and 20 minutes (War for the Planet of the Apes), 2 hours and 29 minutes (Transformers 5), and 2 hours and 21 minutes (Kingsman: The Golden Circle... honestly, what the actual... ?!?), I fear that Blade Runner's running time, which has been spared the wrath of a particularly eager editor, is simply too demanding on my cinematic spirit; and with a taxing Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90%, which means I'll actually have to use my brain, the film is asking a lot.

Directing duties on Blade Runner 2 have been commandeered by Denis Villeneuve, who made Prisoners, which I consider the best film of 2013, and who then went on to direct both Sicario (2015) and Arrival (2016), two films that... a lot of other people quite liked. Judging by its aforementioned reviews, a lot of people quite like Blade Runner 2049, too - so much so that it should overcome its length and vague unfamiliarity to modern audiences to smash through the $100 million dollar mark, in the process denying Madea or some other scrappy horror film bragging rights for month's biggest.

Opening weekend: $47 million / Total gross: $142 million


2. Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (October 20th)
Before I even think of doing any forecasting at all, I must offer a sincere apology: last October, I allowed my inner fanboy to get the better of me, abandoned all reason and sense of fair play, and spent most of my writing space extolling the great and glorious virtues of the Madea series in general and of her first Halloween film in particular (sight unseen). In the process, I belittled hard-hitting, serious, dramatic cinema like Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a film I viewed months later and found to be emotionally fulfilling, and which had enough challenges at the box office without my additional harping on (Madea's Halloween grossed $73 million, while poor Billy Lynn finished with a mere... one million dollars).

That last Madea Halloween movie was... disagreeable. Though its plot description breathlessly advertised Madea facing off against "killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls, and zombies", the film contained none of the above, and the actual culprits ruining Madea's Hallowe'en turned out to be frat boys pulling remarkably sophisticated pranks (I might be behind on futuristic current technology, but how is it that they got a mirror to write on itself in real time?).

But the people had spoken at the box office, and that is why, among other reasons, this year we are getting Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, as opposed to, say, Billy Lynn's Second Walk: Hallowed Fields. In any case, time has passed, nerves have settled, and Mabel "Madea" Simmons returns again in what is her eleventh film role (do see them all, as I have). Here, the official plot summary once again promises us wonders, announcing to the world that on Halloween night 2017, Madea will put on her pearls and confront a "haunted campground", populated by "monsters, goblins and the bogeyman", which have, the plot outline vows, been "unleashed".

I have a deep, sneaking, and totally accurate suspicion that these monsters, goblins, and, indeed, even the bogeyman himself, are not actually real (in the film), but rather the creation of more misbehaving teenagers and teenage adjacents with rather extensive special effects budgets, and a lot of time to waste. I fear that, despite all hope to the contrary, the masked villains carrying chainsaws and other holiday paraphernalia on the film's posters will turn out to be not fearsome supernatural fiends hunting down our beloved Mabel, but mere and plain mortals enjoying the holiday's traditional elements of prank and trickery. If so, so be it. At least this time, we're ready to be disappointed.

By the way, there are two more Madea movies scheduled for next year. So yeah, they could be prequels, but more likely that means Madea makes it through Hallowe'en alive. With a minimum of most limbs intact, including that one.

Opening weekend: $31 million / Total gross: $66.6 million

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