THE MAZE RUNNER- September 19
Opening Weekend Prediction- $35 million
Total Gross Prediction- $90 million
The Maze Runner is a great book and there is definitely a lot of interest in a movie adaptation. This won't be nearly as successful as The Hunger Games, Twilight or Divergent, but it will bring in the teen crowds (especially boys) who haven't had a big blockbuster to see since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or even Guardians of the Galaxy). The cast is also pretty solid and early tracking is good, so expect this to be a hit.
A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES- September 19
Opening Weekend Prediction- $18.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $52 million
A Walk Among The Tombstones is not going to be a four-quadrant hit like Non-Stop or Taken. It's a dark, brooding detective thriller with gruesome violence and a serious plot. However, Liam Neeson is still one of the world's biggest superstars and he can carry a movie whether it's a goofy action flick or a serious drama. This one has had the benefit of solid reviews (65% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a good marketing effort, which should lead to at least $50 million at the box office.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU- September 19
Opening Weekend Prediction- $14 million
Total Gross Prediction- $39 million
This light family drama has a great cast led by Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Bryne and Corey Stoll, but will likely not do great at the box office. Early buzz from critics has lambasted the film for being too generic, and even though it's sitting at a comfortable 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, odds are that the adult audiences will wait for a bigger Oscar contender to come along.
TUSK- September 19
Opening Weekend Prediction- $2.2 million
Total Gross Prediction- $10 million
Tusk is going to open small, but will likely keep going like a freight train. Kevin Smith's horror comedy has received mixed early reviews, but the story about a man being turned into a walrus just sounds so irresistible. Plus, Smith has a strong and loyal fanbase who will show up for anything that he does, so I'm betting that they make this one a hit.
THE EQUALIZER- September 26
Opening Weekend Prediction- $45 million
Total Gross Prediction- $138 million
R-rated action films typically struggle at the box office, but not when they look as awesome as The Equalizer. The Denzel Washington-starred flick has had a great marketing campaign so far and all of the early reviews, positive and negative, called it at least a great time at the movies. And according to Sony, this film received the highest test scores of any R-rated flick in studio history. Obviously, everybody is expecting a hit.
THE BOXTROLLS- September 26
Opening Weekend Prediction- $16.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $60 million
Laika has had moderate box office success in the past and their latest film will benefit from a shocking lack of competition. The Boxtrolls is the only children's film of the month and will completely dominate the multiplexes until Book of Life shows up. However, the film has received mixed early buzz and the trailers have made the film look pretty unappealing. We'll see how this one turns out. It will be quite interesting.
GONE GIRL- October 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $34 million
Total Gross Prediction- $150 million
David Fincher consistently churns out commercially and critically successful films and Gone Girl will undoubtedly be his biggest hit yet. The book was a massive success and with strong early Oscar buzz and a terrific cast led by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, this should be a massive, four-quadrant hit that will succeed with critics and audiences.
ANNABELLE- October 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $35 million
Total Gross Prediction- $75 million
The Conjuring is the single best horror movie of the last few years and Annabelle has the potential to be a great spin-off. Granted, James Wan isn't directing and the cast isn't quite so strong, but the trailers have been terrific thus far. The doll is very creepy and I can't wait to see what Annabelle has in store for us.
THE GUEST- September 17 (limited), October 3 (wide)
Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $1.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $6 million
The Guest is a film that has kind of come out of nowhere and it has the potential to be a big indie hit. Dan Stevens stars as a mysterious house-guest and the reviews have been amazing. Many critics have praised this film for its homage to 1980's action flicks and how well it channels John Carpenter. Sounds like one to definitely check out.
LEFT BEHIND- October 3
Opening Weekend Prediction- $5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $17 million
From what I understand, this is a Nicholas Cage vehicle about the rapture based off a series of best-selling Christian novels. Doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for success, but this seems to be a popular brand with the faith-based audiences and Left Behind should be able to pull in some disaster movie fans as well. In the end, it should be a solid hit.
THE GOOD LIE- October 3 (limited)
Opening Weekend Prediction- $5.3 million
Total Gross Prediction- $27.5 million
Reese Witherspoon is going to be nominated for an Oscar this year, but it won't be for this movie. This film about Sudanese refugees living with an American woman has received lukewarm reviews so far and it likely won't receive the marketing push it needs to break out. That being said, it's very much in the vein of The Blind Side and that will certainly attract audiences to this film.
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY- October 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $16 million
Total Gross Prediction- $45 million
This movie has a very funny trailer and will almost certainly get a strong marketing showcase from Disney. So with that being said, I think that it will be a solid hit. However, there are a lot of things going against this movie. For one, the title is way too long. It could cause box office problems when your title is ten words long. This movie also looks a little generic. But if the laughs come into play, everything will likely be good for this film at the box office.
DRACULA UNTOLD- October 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $25 million
Total Gross Prediction- $66 million
Dracula Untold is kicking off the "Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe" and will hopefully get this new franchise off on the right foot. I actually love the idea of doing a cinematic universe with the famous movie monsters and I hope that Dracula Untold does well. The first trailer was very good and Universal chose a good weekend for the film to open. There isn't much straight action fare in October, so this should be a solid hit.
THE JUDGE- October 10
Opening Weekend Prediction- $22 million
Total Gross Prediction- $78 million
People like Robert Downey Jr. People like legal movies. People like feel-good stories. People will pay money to go see The Judge. Even though its 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes is very lackluster, this is still a movie that people will go see. It definitely will not be an Oscar contender, but the feel-good nature of the story and the family drama will drive audiences into theaters.
KILL THE MESSENGER- October 10 (limited)
Opening Weekend Prediction- $900K
Total Gross Prediction- $2.5 million
What happened to this movie? A few months ago this was one of my most anticipated films of the fall and now, it has fallen completely off the map. The cast is led by Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Andy Garcia and Michael Sheen and the story about drug smuggling and a journalist seeking the truth is irresistible. However, not a peep has been heard out of this movie since the first trailer debuted. That is a very bad sign.
WHIPLASH- October 10 (limited)
Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $2.6 million
Total Gross Prediction- $32 million
Whiplash has steadily become one of my most anticipated movies of the fall and with good reason. The reviews have been nothing short of stellar and the trailer was brilliant. I can't wait to see Miles Teller and JK Simmons face off on screen and I believe that word of mouth will spread like wildfire for this one. I'm betting on Whiplash becoming one of the surprise hits of the fall.
THE BEST OF ME- October 17
Total Gross Prediction- $14 million
The Best of Me looks really bland. I have no idea what it's about, but I decided to talk about it because it stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan and actually is a wide release in October. Unless the romance crowd feels under-served by all the Oscar fare, I doubt this will be a huge success.
BOOK OF LIFE- October 17
Opening Weekend Prediction- $30 million
Total Gross Prediction- $94 million
There isn't much in terms of family fare in October and Book of Life will definitely fill that void. It looks fun and appealing and families will seek this out. In addition to that, Book of Life features a large Mexican stylistic influence which will definitely strike a chord with the very important Hispanic audiences. All in all, this should be a huge hit.
FURY- October 17
Total Gross Prediction- $150 million
Fury could be an Oscar contender, but even more importantly, it's a film that will make a lot of money. Early buzz is strong and Brad Pitt is one of the few great movie stars left in Hollywood. Director David Ayer also gained a lot of fans with End of Watch and they will surely find a lot of appeal in this film. Look for this to be one of the bigger hits of the fall.
MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN- October 1 (limited), October 10 (expansion), October 17 (wide)
Opening Weekend Prediction (wide)- $7.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $21 million
If Men, Women and Children had received better reviews at Tiff, I might be higher on this film. However, the film is sitting at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes and the hate has been rather strong thus far from many critics. Plus, Jason Reitman's track record at the box office for non-Oscar nominated films is spotty to say the least. Despite the massive cast that includes Ansel Elgort and Adam Sandler, I just don't see this breaking out.
BIRDMAN- October 17 (limited)
Opening Weekend Prediction (limited)- $500K
Total Gross Prediction- $110 million
At this point, Birdman is one of the front-runners for Best Picture at the Oscars and I have a feeling that this movie will be a monumental box office success as well. The trailers have succeeded in making the film feel fresh and daring and the cast (which includes Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone and Edward Norton) is fantastic. Expect this to be one of the highest grossing Oscar nominees of the year.
LAGGIES- October 24
Total Gross Prediction- $12.1 million
This Sundance pick-up from A24 stars Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz, but will likely disappear amid the other Oscar contenders and big blockbusters. The film is going wide in its first weekend which is quite interesting. All in all, I'm not all that interested in this movie and I'm truly not expecting anything out of it.
OUIJA- October 24
Total Gross Prediction- $55 million
Ouija is the big Halloween horror release this year, and most importantly- it's PG-13. Teens will flock to this one in droves and that will drive business for most of the week. The only horror film set to hit theaters before Ouija is Annabelle and there's definitely enough room for two horror films in the marketplace. This will definitely be a strong late October hit.
JOHN WICK- October 24
Opening Weekend Prediction- $7 million
Total Gross Prediction- $35 million
As I write this, the reviews for John Wick are pouring in from Fantastic Fest, and they've been universally positive so far. People are happy to see Keanu Reeves back in a great action film and critics have been impressed. Critical success isn't always the key to box office dominance, but in this case, I believe that the reviews will help John Wick become a moderate box office hit.
ST. VINCENT- October 10 (limited), October 17 (expansion), October 24 (wide)
Total Gross Prediction- $40 million
People love Bill Murray and St. Vincent appears to be another great role for him. While the film itself is currently sitting at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, almost every review I've read praises his performance and he is right in the thick of the Oscar race. But mainly, St. Vincent will be a hit because it looks like a good film. The trailer was fun and heartfelt and I have a feeling that Murray fans and movie fans in general will turn out for it in droves.
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP- October 31
Opening Weekend Prediction- $6.5 million
Total Gross Prediction- $15 million
This thriller has three big name stars in Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth, but it just looks so generic. The lukewarm reviews won't help either and the fact that it's going up against the critical darling Nightcrawler is probably not a good thing. Some people will turn out for this one, but I bet it's another film that disappears under the weight of all the other Oscar films.
NIGHTCRAWLER- October 31
Opening Weekend Prediction- $10 million
Total Gross Prediction- $50 million
Nightcrawler was THE event movie at Toronto and if it manages to connect with audiences, it will kill at the box office. Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors of his generation, yet has not solidified his box office presence whatsoever. He can do that with this film. Critics have called his character memorable and monumental and this honestly sounds like a movie for the ages. I simply can't wait and I know that the word of mouth will carry it to box office success.
ROSEWATER- November 7 (limited)
Total Gross Prediction- $8.2 million
Jon Stewart's directorial debut has received positive notices thus far, but will that be enough to get people into theaters? Rosewater tells the story of a journalist who is tortured after being suspected as an American spy by Iranian officials. Not exactly what Stewart is best known for. The only way this movie breaks out is if it receives a lot of Oscar buzz, which hasn't happened so far. Should make some money, but not all that much.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING- November 7 (limited)
Opening Weekend Prediction (limited)- $400K
Total Gross Prediction- $75 million
The Theory of Everything was one of the big success stories out of the Toronto International Film Festival and will undoubtedly be a major awards player. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones' performances have been praised so far and it looks to be directly in the Academy's wheelhouse. Also, it's a Stephen Hawking biopic so it should connect with audiences as well. Definitely going to make a lot of money.
BIG HERO 6- November 7
Opening Weekend Prediction- $63 million
Total Gross Prediction- $290 million
This is the big animated movie of the fall and Disney is on a hot streak right now. After Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, there's no reason to believe that this won't be a hit. The trailers have been infinitely appealing and audiences will flock to this like crazy. I can't wait to see this film and it will likely be one of the biggest hits of the season.
INTERSTELLAR- November 7
Opening Weekend Prediction- $78 million
Total Gross Prediction- $340 million
Christopher Nolan is one of the few filmmakers who can make a movie a hit based off of his name alone and Interstellar will undoubtedly be a hit. He's assembled a fantastic cast that includes mega-stars like Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine and the trailer is fantastic. This is also the front-runner for Best Picture at this point and early word is that it's a masterpiece. Interstellar will rake in the cash at the box office.
That's it for part 1. Come back in early October for the rest of my predictions!