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October 2017 Forecast

By Michael Lynderey

October 5, 2017

Harrison is outrunning Ryan.

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5. My Little Pony: The Movie (October 6th)
My Little Pony is an animated franchise about little tiny horses galloping on across the fields of fantasia, living on in merriment while solving problems through pluck, endurance, and mental stamina. It was began as a 1981 toy line, continued into a 1980s television series and a 1986 feature film, and has by now evolved into every manner of entrepreneurial pursuit available. I recite these facts in an encyclopaedic (or more Wikipaedic) manner because, even for a thorough pop culture maven such as myself, I have somehow managed to avoid most or almost all interaction with this franchise for the good thirty years of my existence, even with a 1990s childhood that was clearly being spent on better and more noble pursuits, like Power Rangers action figures and dusty Goosebumps tomes.

So if My Little Pony wasn't my thing 20 years ago, it will, I assume, not have grown any more appealing to me all this time later (you know, on some days, I still get a pony confused with a unicorn), though I suspect that much of the star-heavy voice cast signed up for the film because it was part of their childhoods (Zoe Saldana, Emily Blunt, and Michael Peña join voice animation regulars like Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, and Andrea Libman). The film was oddly given the exact same title as its 1986 big-screen predecessor (yes, both address themselves as My Little Pony: The Movie, which as of tomorrow will be illogical), but that shouldn't bother the throngs of hungry Pony fans out there, who have waited 30 years for another film adaptation and must now wait no longer.

Opening weekend: $14 million / Total gross: $41 million




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6. Jigsaw (October 27th)
As I never tire of methodically and pedantically explaining, the first Saw film, a low budget ($1.2 million) gore item with an abusively twist-filled plot, had initially been scheduled for direct-to-video release (such films were not respectable mainstream viewing in the early 2000s, for whatever reason). But it was rescued from the bin and sent out to open everywhere two days before Hallowe'en night 2004, where advertising and decent reviews carried it to a shock $18 million opening. The sequels went even bigger ($31m open/$87m total in 2005, $33m/$80m in 2006) before beginning the inevitable decline; and in the meantime, along with the 2003 Texas Chainsaw remake, Saw launched the entire sub-genre of hard-R torture fests that assaulted innocent cinemagoers for years after the fact.

So we had seven Saw films in seven years, and now, after six years of silence, the buzz is back ("The Buzz is Back" was the tagline for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986. This is an educational moment).

Those paying plot attention know that the inglorious adventures of pseudo-moralistic mastermind John Kramer, nicknamed Jigsaw by the fictional police and John Saw by me, ended upon his death in 2006's Saw III; though the man had left such a richness of post-mortem tape recordings, schemes, and overdue library books that four more films about his life were produced, released, and seen. Just about all dangling mysteries were wrapped up in 2010, with Saw 3D (not to be confused with Saw 3), but the new film's trailers inform us that Jigsaw-style murders and tape recordings have resumed in that hitherto unnamed, damned, bleak-looking industrial city in which all Saw films are set. More to the point, Saw City's many warehouses once again house screaming victims plugged into implausible and bloodthirsty machinery, detectives again shine flashlights through the night, and labyrinthian plot twists will once more answer one question while laying ground for sequel upon sequel to come.

The original Saws were almost always released on the last weekend before Hallowe'en, the better to capture the pent-up intensity of the holiday, and their faithful viewers treated them almost like a cliffhanger television series, returning to take in the next episode year after year.

Of course, the teenagers and small children who grew up on the Saw series have presumably now grown into middle age or beyond, and so it's hard to tell whether the throngs of devoted Saw fans who pledged and maintained faithful attendance will reprise the habit. Of course, John Saw is presumably the definitive horror villain of the 2000s (with apologies to all the little girls who burst out of televisions with murderous intent), even if he does make his post-mortem return at a time when his genre has moved on from bloody torture and into less noble pursuits, like shaky cameras peering down on serial exorcisms.

Whether the series can go back to its glory days is uncertain, but one big comeback film such as this can probably perform to expectations. Fans must still be out there, though to quote another Texas Chainsaw sequel, is the Saw still family?

Opening weekend: $21 million / Total gross: $40 million


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Thursday, October 19, 2017
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