September 6th - 8th-
Just how much will "IT: Chapter Two" make in its opening weekend? We'll find out pretty quickly here, but given how well received "IT" was, historical logic says people will turn up in droves to catch the next chapter, especially with said chapter being advertised as the final chapter. Not only did "IT" open with $123.4 million, but it also held fairly well for a horror film, earning $327.5 million overall domestically, which is the highest total ever for an R-rated horror film, not adjusted for ticket price inflation (1973's "The Exorcist" easily wins out when you do adjust as it's one of the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for ticket price inflation). Can "IT: Chapter Two" top that opening, while possibly capturing the opening weekend record for an R-rated film, currently held by "Deadpool" with $132.4 million? Given that no one expected "IT" to open as high as it did, that's certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. However, it should be noted that the second half of this story is typically seen as the lesser half, both with the book and the 1990 mini-series. If that trend continues, "IT: Chapter Two" could be in for a slight dip in performance. What also can't be ignored is the movie's 169 minute run time, which could be a bit daunting for casual horror audiences.
September 13th - 15th-
The second wide release of the weekend is one that doesn't have quite as much buzz, but is hoping to build said buzz with it's premier at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8 and that is The Goldfinch. This movie is a collaborative effort between Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios wherein Warner Bros. will control the theatrical release while Amazon gets the exclusive streaming rights later on. Both studios helped finance the film. The movie is about a boy in New York who gets taken in by a wealthy family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The big draw here is that this is from director John Crowley, whose previous film is the 2015 drama "Brooklyn," which got a best picture nomination at the Oscars as well as as nominations for best lead actress for Saoirse Ronan and best adapted screenplay. Whether or not "The Goldfinch" follows suit will largely depend on how critics and audiences react to the film, which is why its debut at TIFF will be key. The movie does boast a cast that includes Ansel Elgort, Oaks Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright and Nicole Kidman. I'm sure a few of them would love awards season consideration if the movie does play well.
September 20th - 22nd-
Fighting for a fairly similar target audience as "Rambo: Last Blood" will be the Brad Pitt space drama Ad Astra. Traveling to space is something that we've done a lot of recently in Hollywood with the likes of "Gravity" (2013), "Interstellar" (2014), "The Martian" (2015), "Passengers" (2016), "Life" (2017), and "First Man" (2018). So, yeah, we've had at least one of these types of movies every year since 2013. We're even going to go back again in October with "Lucy in the Sky." With "Ad Astra," Brad Pitt is heading to space in order to figure out what happened with his father, who went on some sort of expedition 30 years prior that now jeopardizes the universe. The movie has a reported production budget of around $80 million, which means Disney would love it if it opened to the $45+ million that "Gravity," "Interstellar" and "The Martian" all did, but that might be wishful thinking. Rather, last year's "First Man" opened just over $16 million, which might be more around the range that "Ad Astra" hits. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 29 to positive reviews and will also have the benefit of IMAX theaters. But looking at that budget, this might be another one of these Disney-distributed Fox films that falls short of its financial expectations.
The biggest wild card of the weekend will be the release of Downton Abbey, which is a continuation of the popular British TV series that ran for six seasons from 2010 to 2015. This movie is written by show creator and co-writer Julian Fellowes and is directed by Michael Engler, who directed four episodes of the show during the final seasons. So that information, combined with the return of much of the original cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, has a lot of the fan base of the show excited to return for another experience. The general premise of this film involves King George V and Queen Mary visiting Downton Abbey in 1927. The question here, though, is how much of the fan base will make the trip to the theaters to see this? Given that they originally watched the show in the comfort of their own homes, will many of them chose to wait to see this until they can also watch this in their own homes instead of paying for a ticket to see it? There's not a whole lot of exact historical precedent to compare this to, in terms of completed shows continuing later via movie by the original creative team, but perhaps the 2015 film "Entourage" is one? That opened to $10.3 million in June 2015.
September 27th - 29th-
If this is the range that "Abominable" hits, that will actually be on the low end of the spectrum for a DreamWorks animated film. If you remove the three Aardman films they helped distribute in the early 2000s ("Chicken Run," "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and "Flushed Away"), the average opening weekend for DreamWorks is $44.3 million, while the average final domestic total is $162.7 million. Given that these movies have now spanned over 20 years, if you take things a bit further and adjust for ticket price inflation for each film, the average opening weekend number goes up to $54.8 million, while the average final domestic total going up to $204.7 million. So if "Abominable" only hits the numbers of "Smallfoot," that will be a major disappointment for the studio. They're probably hoping for numbers similar to what the first two "Hotel Transylvania" movies did, that being $42.5 million and $48.4 million, respectively. And it wouldn't be unheard of for a DreamWorks film to drastically overperform and hit those levels. "Home" in 2015 and "The Boss Baby" in 2017 were only expected to open around $30 million, but yet both opened over $50 million. So it's possible that the DreamWorks brand could push "Abominable" higher than expected.