Summer’s Over: Predicting Fall’s Biggest Hits

Not all kids are back in school, but for some, this is their last weekend of freedom. So, we’ll call this the final weekend of summer. The next two weekends the studios have basically thrown in the towel, and we resume again on September 9th with It and Home Again. So, what do I think are going to be the biggest hits of the fall?

SEPTEMBER 8th
September 9th brings two potential hits in It and Home Again. There is a third film, but it’s best if we just ignore that one. It is currently tracking at 50-60M opening weekend, which is not just amazing for a horror film, but amazing for a horror film on that weekend. The 9/11 weekend has been a typically slow weekend. September in general is not a great time for movies, with some standout exceptions. In fact, just a 50M opening for It would give it the highest September opening of all time. Only 14 films have opened in September and passed the 100M mark. That includes franchises like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania 2 that somehow made September work for them. One person who made September work for her is Reese Witherspoon, who has one of the rare 14 100M September releases with Sweet Home Alabama. While it is unlikely that Home Again will replicate that level of success, I can’t help but think Home Again will do well, possibly finishing with 50-60M. The big question for It is how high can it go, and is it any good? A 60M opening all but demands a 100M+ finish, but a film like this can be heavily frontloaded, and if the film isn’t any good, it is entirely possible It could fall hard and fast enough to not reach 100M.

September 15th
There are a few releases here. American Assassin is based on a Best Selling novel, and stars Michael Keaton, Dylan O’Brien, Taylor Kitsch, and Sanaa Lathan. I’m betting it does mediocre business, and finishes with 30-40M. mother! is the new Darren Aronofsky film starring Jennifer Lawrence. I’m not sure it will open well, and how it plays will depend on its awards buzz. September is awfully early to sustain awards buzz. There’s also the Ben Stiller dramedy Brad’s Status, and Open Road’s All I See Is You.

September 22nd
If It doesn’t cross 100M, one of these films will. There’s the Kingsman sequel, which opens against Ninjago. Now, while Ninjago is a lesser known LEGO property, it is still a LEGO movie, and the last two have done very well. Can we sustain two of these a year? That’s the bigger question. I think Ninjago will be the lowest finisher of the three, probably capping around 110M. The first Kingsman made 128M domestically as a February release. If the sequel is any good, it should be able to top that. Kingsman might finish in the 130-140M range. Fox Searchlight also opens Battle Of The Sexes with Steve Carell and Emma Stone that should play well throughout the fall into awards season.

September 29th
Tom Cruise stars in American Made, which is opening against the Flatliners remake. I think the Flatliners remake has gotten some buzz from its trailers. I’m not sure how much buzz American Made has gotten. Coming after The Mummy, which came after Jack Reacher 2, Cruise really does need a hit. I just don’t think this is it. I think both Flatliners and American Made will finish around 50M.

October 6th
There’s a huge question mark here. How big is the My Little Pony audience. I honestly don’t even know the answer to that myself. Sometimes, when a TV show is brought to theatres, it doesn’t do well. Sometimes, it’s a massive sensation and it becomes a mega-hit. There’s one world where the My Little Pony movie makes about 40M, and another where it could make 150M. I have no idea. I honestly do not know how popular this franchise is, and if it has enough to succeed as a feature film. Bronies unite? It opens against Blade Runner 2049, which could be a sleeper hit, and The Mountain Between Us starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. Blade Runner 2049 is another one that’s hard to gauge, but I’m betting it can do at least 30M opening weekend, and that 100M is not out of range. If Mountain is any good, it could do 40-50M.

October 13th
A bunch of wildcards here. Chadwick Boseman stars as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. It’s obviously an awards type film, so reviews will matter a lot here. The true life story should put some butts in seats either way. The horror/slasher Happy Death Day has me intrigued because we haven’t had a good slasher film in a while. I know this is kinda like Groundhog Day meets Scream, but if it’s any good, it might surprise. I’m intrigued, and I’m usually not intrigued by this type of film. Then there’s the Jackie Chan actioner The Foreigner, which probably won’t be too big a hit, but could pull off 30-40M domestic.In limited release, Andrew Garfield tries for Oscar glory again with Breathe, and the biopic Goodbye Christopher Robin also opens.

October 20th
The absolutely awful looking Geostorm opens finally, and I expect it to flop. I’m thinking a 40-50M finish for an overly expensive film. It has a lot of competition, like the firefighter drama Only The Brave, Michael Fassbender’s crime thriller The Snowman, War With Grandpa, and another Madea movie. There’s also the Christian release Same Kind Of Different As Me with Greg Kinnear. I think Boo! 2 will do well, probably 60-70M, Only The Brave and The Snowman both with around 40-50M (unless they turn out to be real awards contenders), and War With Grandpa around 30M.

October 27th
They’re trying to revive the Jigsaw franchise. I don’t know if that’s going to go so well. It might. I’m guessing that there isn’t much life left in that series, and Jigsaw could do 40-50M, which really isn’t that bad. It’s opening against the Matt Damon dramedy Suburbicon (odd release date for that film) and the Miles Teller war drama Thank You For Your Service. Both Suburbicon and Thank You are awards bait films, so their tracking will depend on their success.

November 3rd
Thor: Ragnarok opens, and the hype is pretty high for this one. Thor: The Dark World opened to 85M, and people didn’t really love it. It finished at 206M. I think Ragnarok will do about the same opening weekend, but could finish a tad higher at 220M. The hype for Infinity War is real. It’s opening against A Bad Moms Christmas, which is hoping to quick cash in on the success of the first. I think there’s some demand there for this sequel, which could do about 100M over the holidays. Timing is everything.

November 10th
Another comedy sequel, Daddy’s Home 2, opens. Will Ferrell doesn’t typically do sequels, so this is a rarity for him. I think there’s also still an audience for this sequel, which could also do about 100M over the holidays. It opens against the animated Christian film The Star, and Murder On The Orient Express. The Star should do well, but I don’t think 100M is in the cards. Probably 60-70M? Murder might do 50M.

November 17th
Justice League opens and we’ll all finally know whether it sucks or not. Two weeks after Thor, it should do well, especially with Thanksgiving in week two. Even if it sucks, I project at least 250M for Justice League. The hype is just too high. If the film is good, 300M is an easy finish for Justice League, possibly even 350M. I think the marketplace is too crowded for 400M. It opens against Wonder, starring Julia Roberts, which is based on a book and hoping to lure in families. It could do OK, especially with Thanksgiving. I’m not expecting too much, maybe 40M?

November 22nd
Pixar’s Coco is the big Thanksgiving title. Aside from Cars 3 and The Good Dinosaur, their track record is pretty spot on. 200M+. I think Coco looks like it will put Pixar back on track, and a 200-220M range is about right for Coco. It opens against Molly’s Game (which might do 30M with a solid awards campaign), Villa Capri (which probably won’t do even 30M), and Darkest Hour (which could do well if Gary Oldman seems to be the chosen one for the Oscar this year).

December 1st
Not a good week for movies. Polaroid is the only wide release scheduled, and that will be lucky to do 20M domestic. In limited release, The Disaster Artist seems to be the most interesting thing opening that weekend, and even that is really for a niche audience.

December 8th
All The Money In The World with Mark Wahlberg is currently slated, with Ridley Scott as director. I know very little about this film, but Wahlberg and Scott together mean this film should not be counted out. I’m betting we start seeing trailers soon. It opens against Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape Of Water, which could be a sleeper hit.

December 15th
Everyone got out of the way of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you think the hype for the last film was real, this one brings back Luke Skywalker. I think The Last Jedi is going to do one of those “bigfoot” once-in-a-lifetime businesses. Like, 200M opening weekend, and finish somewhere around 650M. Something truly ridiculous like that. It actually opens against Ferdinand, which will still do well on its own. Even with Star Wars sucking the life out of it, I still think Ferdinand will do 150M over the holidays.

December 20th-25th
These are the “Christmas” releases. You’ve got the Jumanji reboot, which (if it doesn’t suck) should do 100M easy over the holidays. It has The Rock and Kevin Hart, both of which are well-liked currently. Then there’s Hugh Jackman’s musical, The Greatest Showman, which could be a sleeper if it has the reviews. It might even be an awards contender. It won’t open big, but with the right attention, it could leg out at 100M too. Then there’s Pitch Perfect 3, which should do 100M. I’m wondering what will happen to The Six Billion Dollar Man, which seems like the odd man out. Wahlberg has a filk two weeks earlier, and then Daddy’s Home 2 in November. That’s a lot of Wahlberg. I’m actually going to predict that Six Billion moves. Two comedies also open, Bastards and Downsizing. Both will probably do OK. There’s also an “untitled Steven Spielberg” film that could go wide that day.

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