October 2017 Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

November 7, 2017

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2017 has been like a horror film for many reasons. In regards to movie theater box office, just when you thought the killer was dead, he lurches out of the shower and tries to strangle you. Ironically, it was a horror film that saved the box office for a month, but here in the scary month of October the best we can manage is a Madea fright fest. Such are the fortunes of war, though it appears to be a losing battle this year. The fate of many films and filmmakers this month was to fall below expectations, in some cases well below. We had a sequel to a beloved sci-fi classic disappoint, although perhaps it is simply following in its predecessor’s footsteps. We had a seasoned actor/director helm a picture written by some of Hollywood’s best, only to watch it fall flat on its face. We had old friends from the previous twenty five years make their triumphant returns, just to see them greeted with a collective shrug. All told, I am not sure there was a truly good story about movies this month. I suppose we can enjoy the fact that there are still some incredible movies and TV shows, but what does it mean if no one watches them? Of course, the biggest movie news this month was really the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment case, and how it may have permanently turned a corner with regards to that culture both within Hollywood and without. If cable/Facebook/Twitter news had box office this year, I think at least that would be setting records.

1) Blade Runner 2049

Opening Weekend: $32.8 M
Monthly Box Office: $82.5 M

At the beginning of this month as buzz was building for this film, expectations were quickly becoming meteoric. It felt like Mad Max: Fury Road all over again; a beloved film from the 1980’s was finally getting a sequel, with some of the old blood and some of the new. The cherry on top was how rapturous the reviews were for both leading up to their releases. Alas, where Mad Max opened well and had good legs, earning an unbelievable Best Picture nomination to boot, Blade Runner 2049 has simply mimicked its origin film, with box office that is overall disappointing. Oddly enough, the opening weekend for 2049 appears to match the domestic total for the 1982 film (including the many rereleases). 2049 has a budget that could be anywhere from $150 million to $200 million, and with a disappointing open in China as well, there appears to be little hope for this one.

Even as the number one film in a lackluster month, the numbers are still not very good. It could be that a release around this time of year did little to boost 2049’s fortunes, although IT was able to capitalize on a void in theaters. Perhaps dystopia is simply a bit out of fashion since no one really wants to know how much worse it’s going to get. Either way, Ridley Scott’s efforts to revisit his most important films at the end of his career is not having the impact he likely desired. Time will tell, in the end, as the great reviews and generally positive reception of 2049 may give it a long shelf life after it exits theaters. Maybe that Blade Runner VR experience hints at new ways to explore this setting going forward.

2) Happy Death Day

Opening Weekend: $26 M
Monthly Total: $49.5 M

If anyone is having a good year, or a good October, it is Jason Blum. This year he has released three films, Split, Get Out and now Happy Death Day, that cost a combined thirteen dollars and seventy two cents, and have earned about twenty six million times their production budget. My numbers may not be factually correct, but they feel just right, and in this day and age I go with my gut. Think about how amazing it is that if you average Blum’s three films’ opening weekends, the number is higher than Blade Runner’s debut, a movie that was highly anticipated for months if not years. I think Russian bots are manipulating people into seeing his films. Happy Death Day will not approach the incredible numbers that Get Out and Split achieved, but it will still be earning over ten times its budget. If only they could have given Bill Murray a cameo...


3) IT

Monthly Box Office: $37.9 M

This is the movie we deserved during the Halloween season! Luckily for IT, there was not a lot of competition at the box office this month, so it was able to hang around and add to its impressive total. After earning close to $300 million in September, IT added a decent amount in October to put it right near $325 million domestic, which it will earn by the time you read this. It has become the fourth highest grossing R-rated film of all time, behind Passion of the Christ, Deadpool, and American Sniper (what an interesting assortment of titles), as well as the highest grossing horror film by a margin of about $100 million over The Exorcist. Amazingly enough, the third highest grossing R-Rated horror film also came out this year: Get Out. Even if you include The Sixth Sense as a horror film (not rated R) IT still comes out on top. With a worldwide total more than doubling it’s domestic take, IT is a huge success. It will be in the top 50 domestic films of all time if it can earn $8 million more to sneak past the first Guardians of the Galaxy.

4) Boo 2: A Madea Halloween!

Opening Weekend: $21.2M
Monthly Box Office: $37.5 M

Tyler Perry is bulletproof, especially when he brings out Madea. Although not quite as lucrative as Jason Blum, Perry generally makes films with low budgets, and this should be the eighth Madea title to earn over $50 million domestic. Boo 2: Electric Boogaloo will wind up on the lower end of his Madea films, and will underperform the original Boo that came out just over a year ago. That film became the second highest grossing Madea film at $73 million, so it would appear that making sequels to his films is not a winning formula for Perry, especially only a year later. Either way, expect to see Madea about once a year as Perry continues to make movies for an underserved audience.

5) American Made

Monthly Box Office: $36.2 M

What could be scarier than watching Tom Cruise around Halloween? Oh, you were asking about movies. Anyway, Cruise’s CIA man of drug running action is going to fall on the lower end of his output, as American Made squeezes out a $50 million domestic total. The good news is that that was also the budget, and with Cruise’s international appeal will earn about twice that from foreign screens. Doug Liman and Cruise could not replicate their success from Edge of Tomorrow, although both films received good reviews and positive reception, so they have that going for them. Speaking of which, I wonder why Liman did not wind up directing the next Mission: Impossible film, as that would seem a perfect fit. Christopher McQuarrie will helm M:I 6 once again, Cruise’s next film due this summer. Would you believe the man is 55 years old?

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