September 2nd - 5th-
The second movie of the weekend that was a major dud was The Light Between Oceans. On paper this movie looks like a solid hit. This is romance drama about a couple who adopts a child who comes floating ashore, which leads to a complicated scenario when they learn what's happened to the actual birth mother. This is based off of a novel written by M.L. Stedman and is directed by Derek Cianfrance, director of The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine. It also stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vickander, two of Hollywood's current biggest stars. Like I said, great on paper. The problem is that it's a movie that's essentially been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years now and with the Labor Day release date seems like a movie that was dumped on the calendar by DreamWorks and Disney. The reviews are better than Morgan, but not by a whole lot.
September 9th - 11th-
The second movie of the weekend looks to be a sleeper hit and that is When the Bough Breaks. This comes to us via Sony's Screen Gems division who, on this exact weekend in the past two years, has released thrillers featuring a predominantly black cast that surprised at the box office. No Good Deed opened to $24.3 million in September of 2014 while The Perfect Guy delivered up $25.9 million in September of 2015. Neither were expected to win their weekend, but both did after being in only around 2,200 theaters. Can lightning strike three times for Screen Gems? When the Bough Breaks is also a thriller with a predominately black cast being released in around 2,200 theaters. This also shares Morris Chestnut from The Perfect Guy. The premise for When the Bough Breaks surrounds a surrogate mother for a couple who becomes dangerously obsessed with the soon-to-be father. It would be quite the feat if this beat out Sully for the weekend's prize, but don't be surprised if it does. Unless of course Sully can manage to open with $30 million or more.
Next up we have two movies that will probably be lost in the September madness. The first of those is the horror film The Disappointments Room. It was initially supposed to be Before I Wake this weekend for Relativity Media, which is a movie that I've already covered twice in my movie previews. But for a third straight time, Before I Wake was taken off the schedule at last minute. I wonder if that movie is ever coming out, but I'm glad they made the change this time BEFORE I did my movie preview. It was three weeks ago when that change was made and The Disappointments Room, which was initially slated for a November release, was put into it's place. It's been a phenomenal year for horror movies as The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, and Don't Breathe are examples of movies that did very well at the box office. The Conjuring 2 wasn't a surprise, but those last two definitely were. The Disappointments Room is a supernatural horror about a family that moves into their dream house only to discover a horrifying mystery in the attic. Personally I do think we're in for another horror breakout this month, but I don't think it will be with this movie. I think it's too late of switch for this to break out.
Last and almost certainly least will be the animated movie The Wild Life. Titled Robinson Crusoe almost everywhere else in the world, The Wild Life is a Belgium animated film that was initially released at the Brussels Animation Film Festival in February this year and has already seen a theatrical release in over 30 countries worldwide, earning a total of $20 million, led by Germany with $5.1 million and France with $2.6 million. As is inferred by it's title everywhere else, this is the story of Robinson Crusoe told from the perspective of the animals on the island. Hence the United States title, The Wild Life. Based on reaction from places where it's been released, this appears to be an animated movie that appeals to young kids only. The type of movie that's perfect for distracting your kids in the morning when it shows up on Netflix and not necessarily the type of movie to rush out to see. Lionsgate is handling the U.S. distribution for the movie as this doesn't come from any major animation studio. The other animated movie that Lionsgate distributed this year in the U.S. was January's Norm of the North, which opened to just $6.8 million on its way to $17.1 million overall.
September 16th - 19th-
One of the most controversial figures of today is a man by the name of Edward Snowden. This weekend the movie about him finally hits theaters and that is Snowden. Joseph Gordon-Levitt place Edward Snowden and the movie is directed by Oliver Stone, who is well known for his controversial war/political thrillers such as Platoon, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers, Wall Street, and many more. Given the release date in the middle of election season where Edward Snowden has been one of the hot topics, this could be a timely movie. Or a movie that angers a lot of people. Or a movie that people just don't care about due to the fact that the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour just barely came out two years ago and won best documentary at the Oscars last year. A lot of people are very well aware of the situation here with Snowden and thus if the movie strays a bit from actual events or doesn't hit people like it has potential to, there's a chance this could be ignored. The fact that it was postponed two different times could also be seen as a red flag. Or it could be a sleeper hit. So call this movie the wildcard of the month.
Next up is a third movie in a series that most people probably didn't anticipate being a trilogy and that is Bridget Jones's Baby. Bridget Jones's Diary was released in 2001 and became a sleeper hit after opening to just $10.7 million, but finishing with $71.5. This was enough to justify the sequel three years later called Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which didn't do quite as well, but did well enough. Now we are 12 years after the second one with this third chapter. Renee Zellweger returns as Bridget Jones for a third time, as does Colin Firth's Mark Darcy. Being added into a love triangle is the well-loved Patrick Dempsey. Call that an all-star romance drama cast for this movie. The drama in this third chapter is such that Bridget Jones is pregnant, but she doesn't know if either Colin Firth or Patrick Dempsey is the father, so she kinda courts both until she can figure out who the father is and who she would prefer to be with more. This could end up as a sleeper hit like the first two, especially since the female crowd hasn't been treated to a romance drama in a while and there really isn't any on the schedule for much of the fall season. Or this could end up going the way of most other sequels this year by under-performing especially with how much time has passed.
Pulling up the rear this weekend should be Hillsong - Let Hope Rise. This comes to us via Pure Flix, a Christian distribution company that was responsible for God's Not Dead 2 and Woodlawn. This is a documentary/concert film following the musical group Hillsong UNITED, a very popular Christian music group. They've had five albums hit #1 on the US Christian Albums chart and plenty of hits on the US Hot Christian Songs chart. They even had one song, "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," cross over to the US Billboard Hot 100. So there's potential here. The problem is that documentary/concert films like this never do super well at the box office. The only three that have done super well at the box office have been Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Michael Jackson's This is It, and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour. One Direction, Katy Perry, the Jonas Brothers, and Glee are examples of very high profile singers/groups that had concert movies that didn't really hit. Christian movies do sometimes surprise at the box office, but it would be very surprising if this one managed more than $10 million this weekend.
September 23rd - 25th-
The other release of the weekend is Warner Animation Group's Storks. Pushed very heavily in marketing here is that this is the same team that released The LEGO Movie. The idea here is to keep up with the likes of Disney and Pixar with the animation party, so they're really hoping Storks is a success. Sony has learned recently that late September can be a very good time for animation as their Hotel Transylvania movies and their Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies have done very well in this slot, so there's a good chance for success here, especially since it will have been a couple of months since the last big animated movie and there won't be another animated movie until November with Trolls and Moana. In the movie Storks, the storks no longer deliver babies. Instead they have modernized to deliver packages. However, the baby making machine is accidentally activated, causing our main stork to have to deliver a baby once again. This is directed by Nicholas Stoller, who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement, and the Neighbors movies, as well as Doug Sweetland, who worked in the animation department for several of Pixar's movies. The voice talent includes Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Kelsey Grammer, and Key & Peele.
September 30th - October 2nd-
Competing with Miss Peregrine to dethrone The Magnificent Seven will be Peter Berg's Deepwater Horizon. Earlier during this preview when I was talking about Sully, I mentioned the trend of turning recent national news stories into major motion pictures. Deepwater Horizon pairs with Sully to make for two movies during this month to follow this trend. This movie is specifically based on the New York Times article "Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours," which was released on December 25, 2010 and told the story of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill, which headlined the news for quite some time during 2010. Peter Berg is the director here. He previously found success with the Navy SEALs movie The Lone Survivor back in January of 2013. Both The Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon star Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. Speaking of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, this won't be the only time this year the two will team up for a modern news story turned into movie. Patriots Day will be released in December and is about the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt to find the bomber. Both stories should be fresh on people's minds and it will be interesting to see if they translate into box office and/or awards success.
The final movie of the month is a comedy titled Masterminds. This movie is a PG-13 heist comedy that is directed by Jared Hess, who wrote and directed both Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. The movie features a talented cast of comedians which includes Zach Galafianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis. In other words, three of the four female Ghostbusters from a couple months back plus Galafianakis, Wilson, and Sudeikis. So this has the star power to be a sleeper hit and a PG-13 rating that could appeal to a broader audience. There's also not a whole ton of comedies this fall, so it could hold well if it's received well by audiences. The problem might be a lack of awareness for this. It's also a Relativity Media production that has been pushed back several times partially due to Relativity's financial crisis, so this could also be a fall comedy that completely slips under the radar and is instead forgotten about.