October 2nd - 4th-
As I said, the big challenger for The Martian is Sicario. The other movies have decided to wait until a little closer to Halloween to debut, so it's time to dive into a couple of limited releases for the weekend. The first of these is The Walk. I say limited release with this one and that is true. But it's limited release in the vane of last month's Everest, which opened in IMAX theaters only the weekend before it expanded nationwide. Everest was super successful in its IMAX release as it made an incredible $7.2 million in that format. The Walk will be stealing the IMAX theaters from Everest and will hope for similar success. The movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is directed by the great Robert Zemeckis, and is the true story about a guy in the 1970's who put a high-wire between the World Trade Center towers and walked across. Audiences were totally down for travelling to Everest in September via IMAX. We'll see if they want to come with this guy and walk across the towers with him. Following its exclusive release in IMAX theaters this weekend, The Walk will be released nationwide next weekend, October 9th.
In case you missed the news and have not been on social media yet this year, there was a monumental decision in the supreme court about the definition of marriage. I'm not here to dive into that at all. I am here to tell you that Hollywood has taken advantage of this by making several relevant movies surrounding that subject. Granted, these films were filmed before the decision was made, so I suppose this means there was either a lot of luck involved with these releases or some sort of foresight because we got a lot of them coming. Starting out in two theaters this weekend is Freeheld. This movie stars Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore, Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, Oscar-nominated actor Steve Carell, and Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon. Julianne Moore's character in the movie is diagnosed with terminal cancer and she and her domestic partner, played by Ellen Page, both battle to secure the pension benefits. Early word off the street with this movie is that, despite good intentions, this will not be the Oscar darling as the movie has a lot of issues not related to theme. It's platform release will determine if it goes wide anyways, despite poor reviews.
October 9th - 11th-
While adult audiences from most of the country not wanting to see Pan will be either seeing The Walk as it expands or catching up on Sicario and/or The Martian, folks from New York City and Los Angeles will be flocking to the select theaters that will be showing Steve Jobs. Wait, what? Didn't we already get a Steve Jobs movie? Yup. Back in 2013, Jobs came out, which starred Ashton Kutcher as the legendary businessman. No one liked it. Very few people actually gave it their money. Word is it wasn't that accurate at all. It was a pretty big flop. But someone saw that movie and decided that a Steve Jobs biopic done right could be extremely successful and popular. So now we are getting that and this is going to be a huge Oscar contender. Instead of director Joshua Michael Stern (Nervewas, Swing Vote -- what?), they selected Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). Instead of Ashton Kutcher playing Jobs, we have Michael Fassbender. Riding along with Fassbender will be Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, and Seth Rogen, all of whom are getting at least some Oscar buzz for their roles in this movie. Word is this movie is the actual, honest story of Steve Jobs, which is the biggest plus. A slow expansion will happen throughout the month and the rest of the country will get the movie towards the end of October.
October 16th - 18th-
If Bridge of Spies can't do it this weekend, then my guess is that it got topped by Goosebumps. Timing can't get much better with this one as this looks like it'll be the perfect Halloween movie for family audiences. Back in the day, the Goosebumps books were the thing. Everyone read Goosebumps and everyone loved Goosebumps. I speak mainly by experience there back in the day when I was in Elementary school. I loved Goosebumps and so did everyone in my grade. Taking my personal bias out of it, I'd still think it's safe to say that this is an extremely popular series. In fact, Wikipedia tells me that more than 300 million books have been sold, making it the bestselling series of all time. The original series of books began in 1992 and included 62 different books published between 1992 and 1997. There's been a total of around 200 of these books published, the most recent of which coming earlier this year. The movie isn't based on one specific book. Author R.L. Stine is played by Jack Black and the monsters from his books are real, but they're trapped inside the books. A group of kids, upon visiting his house, accidentally unleash all these monsters on the town causing quite a bunch of mayhem that needs to be fixed. Like Pan, this movie should be critic proof when it comes to the box office as family audiences should eat it up.
The third movie of the weekend also has potential to take the top spot, which should make for quite the busy weekend. That movie is Crimson Peak. This is also a perfect movie for the Halloween season. Although this one is strictly for adults. Yes, we have ourselves another horror. Horror movies are always a dime a dozen, so you have to do something a little special in order to stick out and earn a ton of money. The selling point for Crimson Peak is director Guillermo del Toro. The man has written, directed, and produced a lot of different types of movies and has a huge fan base. While he's done other popular projects like Hellboy and Pacific Rim, horror is where he started and horror is what he's really good at. So Guillermo del Toro doing another horror has definitely turned a lot of heads. The extremely simplistic story for this has to do with a woman in a, shall I say haunted house? And the cast is huge as well, led by Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain.
That's it for our three-headed monster this weekend. Now let's quickly run through some smaller releases from this weekend. In moderate release this weekend will be Woodlawn. This is a football movie based in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1970's. There's still a lot of racial tensions at this time and thus racism and hate are abound at Woodlawn High School. The chemistry between the football team is awful until the head coach lets a man named Hank, played by Sean Astin, to speak to his football. Hank gives the team a message of faith and hope that not only helps them unite as a team on the football field, but improve their lives. The star football player that the movie centers around is Tony Nathan, who went on to have a very successful NFL career and even spent some time as a coach.
Now for a couple of platform releases. The first of these two is Room. This is a movie that has gained a whole lot of attention recently from the Toronto International Film Festival as it just walked away with the People's Choice Award, which is the top award at TIFF. In the last seven years, six movies that won this award have gone on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, three of them winning the Best Picture Oscar. Those three movies are Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, and 12 Years a Slave. So yeah, Room is now a movie to look out for because of this win at TIFF. Room tells the story of a 5-year-old boy named Jack who has been trapped with his Ma in a 10-by-10 foot windowless space which his Ma has called "Room." As Jack gets more and more curious, a plan is devised to help Jack escape to the real world. Brie Larson plays Ma in this movie and word is that her performance is good enough to now be considered a serious contender in the competitive Best Actress race.
The final movie that I will discuss from this weekend is Truth. This also was just screened at TIFF and although it wasn't received with praise on the level of Room, this is a story that could catch the attention of those non-movie buffs who don't follow the Oscar race or the film festival buzz because it is a movie about Dan Rather. Specifically, this tells the story from just over 10 years ago when Dan Rather and CBS News head Mary Mapes chose to air the false story on 60 Minutes of how President George W. Bush avoided being drafted to Vietnam. This led to a lot of controversy that subsequently led to the firing of both Rather and Mapes. In the movie, Dan Rather is played by Robert Redford and Mary Mapes is played by Cate Blanchett.
October 23rd - 25th-
Next up is an attempt to begin a brand new franchise with Vin Diesel in The Last Witch Hunter. Vin Diesel is coming off the enormously successful Furious 7, so who better to begin a new franchise, right? The premise here is that several centuries ago, many witches roamed the world and there was an army of witch hunters to hunt them down. These witches, of course, are supernatural witches. Well, Vin Deisel gets cursed by the Queen witch with immortality. Thus when his wife and children die, he is stuck on Earth without the ability to reunite with them in the afterlife. Now we fast forward to the current time where Vin Deisel is still around as, you guessed it, the last witch hunter. Yet there are still witches that need to be fought. The human race is in danger and it is up to Vin Deisel to save it. This seems like it could work as a new franchise. This will definitely test the star power of Vin Deisel. Having Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, and Michael Caine along for the ride should also help.
The next three movies are scheduled to come out in wide release, but are three that will either get ignored or will put themselves in moderate release and hope for good word of mouth. The first of these is Jem and the Holograms. For some reason, I lived most of my life not really knowing what Jem and the Holograms was. I think the name and the characters if I saw them would ring a bell, but it's mostly blank. When I saw the trailer for the first time, it was looked like just a random musical from the studios that brought us Pitch Perfect about a girl who gets absurdly famous after a video of her singing on YouTube goes viral. Her stage name becomes Jem and she's this lead singer of a band called Jem and the Holograms. Then I notice the reaction and there are thousands of people out for blood. Turns out Jem and the Holograms was a super awesome animated TV series in the late-80's from the people that also gave us the Transformers and G.I. Joe TV shows. Based on the trailers, the only similarities between this live action movie and the animated TV show is the name. Suddenly I see why everyone is mad. Looks like this is also going the way of the Transformers and G.I. Joe movie adaptations in terms of quality.
The second of these under-the-radar films is Rock the Kasbah. As the trailer puts it, this movie is "inspired by a true story strange than fiction." It's a comedy starring the comedy legend Bill Murray where he plays a music manager that has ran into a lot of bad luck. That luck seems to be changing when he discovers a girl who he thinks has a lot of potential. While that seems pretty basic, the catch here is that he discovers this girl while he is on tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete in what is essentially the Afghanistan version of American Idol called Afghan Star. This also has a pretty loaded cast around Bill Murray as that supporting cast includes Bruce Willis, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, and Danny McBride. It's directed by Barry Levinson who has directed hits such as Rain Man, Bugsy, Disclosure, and Good Morning, Vietnam. So this could be a movie that opens small, yet holds well if the word of mouth is good.
The final wide release of the weekend is Burnt. This movie is positioning itself for Oscars and although the buzz isn't super strong at this point, it's hard to argue with this movie's resume. At least not on paper. Specifically the movie stars Bradley Cooper, who currently has an incredible streak of three straight acting nominations at the Oscars. He also has Lily James, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, and Daniel Bruhl around him as well as John Wells as a director. Wells previously directed the movie August: Osage County and is also involved in writing, producing, and/or directing a whole bunch of TV shows such as ER, The West Wing, and Shameless. What is this movie about? Well, it appears to be a food porn movie. If you haven't heard that phrase, don't freak out. That's what we call the genre of movie that focuses heavily on people making food and thus makes you extremely hungry afterwards. Bradley Cooper plays a character who has made a lot of mistakes in his life and is attempting to make a comeback by becoming a chef at a top restaurant.
And of course I would be doing this month an injustice if I didn't bring up this last movie, which will be debuting on a limited front this weekend and that is Suffragette. It's hard to imagine a time in our country where women couldn't vote. It makes no sense to deny them and thus I don't know how it was tolerated for so long. Suffragette is a movie that takes place in the early 1900's and tells the story of some of the early leaders in the feminist movement that led to women finally getting the right to foot. Namely it's the story of the foot soldiers who turned to violence after concluding that peaceful protests weren't working. On the acting front, Carey Mulligan is the name that's getting a ton of early awards buzz for this movie, but she also has Helena Bonham Carter and the great Meryl Streep working with her as well, so this has potential to be a big contender at the Oscars if the movie is received well.
October 30th - November 1st-
Political dramas seeking for awards buzz are very common at this time of year. There's almost always at least one in the Oscar race every year. This month I've already talked about two of them with Bridge of Spies and Suffragette. Now it's time to finish the month off with a third in Our Brand is Crisis. The Halloween release for this movie won't effect it much, so it's safe being released this weekend as it's not the type of movie that relies on a strong opening weekend, but rather good word of mouth that helps it hold well. Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thorton star in this movie which has Bullock in South America trying to install a new leader in one of the countries down there, meeting resistance along the way. Comparing this to Suffragette, it seems like the marketing campaign for Our Brand is Crisis is a lot stronger at the moment, but the early reviews aren't so positive as the movie is currently on the wrong side of the tomato meter, so this could end up being a miss. We'll have to all stay tuned to see what happens.