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October Forecast

By Stephanie Star Smith

October brings us a higher-than-usual number of horror film releases, and also a harbinger or two of the holiday blockbuster season. While some of the 16 (!) wide releases this month will fall by the wayside, there's certainly something for everyone at the beginning of autumn 2002.

10. The Truth About Charlie

The fact that this remake of the classic Charade stars Mark Wahlberg is what brings it onto the list at all, but I don't expect many outside of Wahlberg fans to flock to the theaters to see this romantic thriller. I have a great deal of respect for Jonathan Demme, but outside of casting Pauly Shore, I can't imagine a worse substitute for the inimitable Cary Grant. Which would be less of a problem if romantic thrillers were still a popular genre, but when's the last time one hit it big at the box office? And the last similar remake of a classic film, Sabrina, didn't fare too well, so I'm not liking the chances for this film.

9. Abandon

This film stars Katie Holmes. That's likely all most need to know, and why it would make a decent amount even without the horror overtones to time into the October-end holiday. It's being released a bit too far from Hallowe'en to draw a lot of extra push from that, plus there's another - and to my mind, superior - horror film being released the same weekend, but Ms Holmes should at least get it a decent opening, and it'll still be around close enough to All Hallows Even to be a second or third choice for moviegoers looking for a good scare.

8. The Transporter

This film was pushed back to its current release date less than one week before its originally scheduled debut, which seems very, very odd. One has to believe that either (a) Fox, in a display of prescience not generally seen in studio execs, foresaw the success of Barbersbop and wisely chose not to compete, even though the two films couldn't draw more different audiences; or (b) the film really, really sucks and Fox was hoping the oddity of chancing the release date in such a bizarre manner would bring people to the theaters out of curiosity. Personally, I'm betting on the latter, as the TV ads didn't inspire confidence in the film, even taking into account the fact that I don't care much for this type of tough-guy-fights-the-really-bad-guys movie. So it will be interesting to see just what happens come October 11th. The film makes the list because...well, hell; choice B is a pretty good argument for it.

7. The Guest, Ghost Ship

Two completely different genres, both should draw enough of their respective crowds to make a decent showing.

The Guest comes to us courtesy of David Zucker, one-third of the legendary ZAZ team. Starring a bevy of TV faces, The Guest has all the prerequisites for a successful teen comedy: a likeable young lead, the possibility of lots of semi-nudity, and lots of strange characters running amok and mucking up the romance of the lead and his dream girl. It's being released on a crowded weekend, but given the dearth of teen comedies in the month, it will likely make a decent dent in the box office.

Ghost Ship comes to us from the folks at Dark Castle, and that studio's success over the past couple of Hallowe'ens is what earns Ghost Ship its place on this list. Unlike Dark Castle's earlier offerings, this is not a remake of a William Castle film. In fact, it seems to be a pretty run-of-the-mill horror entry; certainly we've seen this basic storyline played out in a number of films over the years. Still, we can't count Dark Castle out; they've shown an ability to market their films to decent box office, and I expect a similar mind-level success awaits Ghost Ship.

6. The Ring

The Ring is the English-language remake of a legendary Japanese horror film, and early indications are it's done a pretty good job of capturing the suspense and horror of the original. It definitely has a unique premise, and one that seems imminently promotable. The TV ads have managed to be intriguing without giving away too much of the plot, and were it being released a bit closer to Hallowe'en, I'd have it a bit higher on the list. Still, if it lives up to the buzz, it should be able to carve a niche for itself amongst the glut of spook movies this month.

5. Knockaround Guys

By all rights, I probably shouldn't even have this on the list, considering it was originally supposed to be released in the fall of 2001. Generally films held out of release this long are box office dogs; however, this one has too much talent, both behind and in front of the camera, and too good a trailer for me to not have faith in it. Plus the plot seems a cut or two above the usual crime thriller, with an old school/up-and-comers angle to it that could be quite appealing. And at this stage, can we really count out any film that stars Vin Diesel, part of an ensemble cast though he may be?

And if the film tanks, blame its high placement on my Seth Green fan-boyism.

4. Brown Sugar

This friends-who-may-or-may-not-become-lovers romantic comedy stars the bewitching Sanaa Lathan, who first came to the attention of moviegoers in another rom-com, Love and Basketball. Brown Sugar also has Taye Diggs and Michael Elliot (Like Mike), as well as an R&B/hip-hop soundtrack, going for it. With a likely boost from the soundtrack appearing in heavy rotation on MTV, and the increasingly savvy Marketing Department at Fox Searchlight behind it, this should bring in a nice little bundle at the box office, and kick both its cast and director up to the next level.

3. Tuck Everlasting

I can sum up the third-place finish for this film in three words: Disney's Marketing Department. Sure, it's also based on a well-respected children's book, and is apparently a very faithful big-screen adaptation of same. It also boasts quite the stellar cast. Still, the trailer takes for granted that everyone viewing it is familiar with the book, and those of us who aren't are left saying, "Wha?" after watching it. But one should never, ever count out Disney's Marketing Department. If they can get butts in the theater seats for The Country Bears, they can bloody well get butts in the seats for what looks to be a much, much better film.

2. Formula 51

Samuel L Jackson is having a banner year. This is his third movie to be released in 2002, and each and every one has just burnished the man's star. Formula 51 is more his movie to carry than was Changing Lanes (and in xXx, he was just a cooler Q to Vin Diesel's hyper 007), but if anyone is up to the task, it's Jackson. Add in an interesting storyline, a good supporting cast and some stuff that blows up real good, and this should make all the action-film fans very happy this October. Of course, Samuel L has to has to take a back seat to...

1. Red Dragon

...Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter. Sir Anthony Hopkins' third go-round as the creepy intellectual serial killer is pretty much a shoe-in to walk away with not only top honors this month, but likely a new box office record for October as well, much as Hannibal did in February of last year. This installment is less Hannibal's showcase, but that will likely make little difference to the hordes of Lecter fans flocking to multiplexes across the nation. Edward Norton - likely hoping everyone has forgotten the box office plutonium that was Death to Smoochy - is also a plus as the Clarice Starling of this piece, and Ralph Fiennes adds a nice touch as the serial killer Hannibal is helping the Feds nail. Put them all together, and they spell number one in October. And probably a fourth film in the Hannibal Lecter franchise, too.

  • Read Tim Briody's October forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis' October forecast

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