Halloween time is fast approaching, children, and it launches in moviedom with a PG-rated Eli Roth flick starring Jack Black. What a world.
Assassination Nation (Neon)
Upon watching the trailer for Assassination Nation, you will either be very interested or very not interested. A Sundance pickup, Assassination Nation follows a group of high schoolers in Salem as a data hack destroys everybody’s privacy and, in turn, everybody… massacres the shit out of each other, apparently. So it’s a bit niche.
Releasing in 1,403 venues, it’s unlikely anyone’s expecting a blowout hit from this. It doesn’t help that exposure seems rather low – the trailer above harbours less than 150k views and the movie’s Facebook page has about 13k likes. Reviews are a little positive-approaching-lukewarm, which probably won’t sway those who’ve made up their minds. It all brings to mind 2016’s Hardcore Henry, a unique slice of ultra-violence that ultimately flubbed with $9.25 million off a $5.11m debut. Assassination Nation is a little more accessible, at least, not presenting a POV hook and more of a Heathers meets The Purge vibe, as its TV spots aptly state. Still, it’s just a matter of outreach here, perhaps the biggest thing holding Assassination Nation back.
Prediction: $4 million, #9 rank
Fahrenheit 11/9 (Briarcliff)
Trump hating is a popular pastime, yes, but its box office viability has yet to be assessed. Enter Michael Moore, releasing Fahrenheit 11/9 in 1,719 hubs this weekend via a distributor with no prior releases.
On the plus side, critics like it. On the other hand, it’s not a movie dictated by how much critics enjoy it, but rather your political leanings and whether you care enough to see something related to them on screen. The most recent, the conservative-leaning Death of a Nation, grossed a meagre $5.87m off a $2.36m debut last month. Fahrenheit 11/9 won’t do that bad, no, but there’s a decent chance it won’t match/exceed Moore’s last nationwide release, 2009’s Capitalism: A Love Story ($14.36m). Where politics are a spectator sport at this point, dominating a 24/7 news cycle, innumerable TV specials, and bleeding into the themes of many a film and TV show, it’s a little hard to see there being a big audience eager to see more on the big screen. Unless it strikes a cultural nerve, which, I mean, probably not, but who knows.
I always welcome an opportunity to see Jack Black, even though he’s starring in a similar film, Sony’s Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, in less than a month. And I always welcome an opportunity to see Cate Blanchett chew scenery. The movie is a decent way to start the spooky season, I s’pose, especially for the young ones. It’s also claiming IMAX and premium screen venues, a sure way to boost grosses. Lending more name value, the book of the same name has been circulating for 45 years at this point.
Reviews are merely okay and it probably won’t eclipse 2015’s Goosebumps ($23.62m debut), but with a $42m production cost and likely family-friendly legs, The House with a Clock in Its Walls ought to have a healthy run until Goosebumps 2 directly cuts into it.
Prediction: $20 million, #1 rank
Life Itself (Amazon)
An awards-bait drama with a stacked cast, directed by the creator of the popular show This is Us? Easy sell, yes?
Well, one catch. Apparently it’s pretty terrible, one of the more immediate deathblows a movie like this can face – see 2016’s Collateral Beauty (still one of the most distinctly hideous titles out there), featuring every goddamn actor who’s ever thought about a stage, which resulted in a miserable $7.1m debut and a $31.02m final thanks to holiday legs, something Life Itself will lack.
Amazon spent $10m on the distribution rights to this, a worthy investment if the product was enticing, but it’s hard to see Life Itself recovering from such negative reception and it’ll have to rely on its talent’s name value – its only leg up from its non-House with a Clock in Its Walls competitors, along with a larger 2,578 venue count.
Prediction: $6 million, #5 rank
2. The Predator (Fox) – $9.9 million (-60%), $41.7m cume 3. The Nun (Warner Bros.) – $9.1 million (-50%), $99.8m cume 4. A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) – $8.8 million (-45%), $30.9m cume 7. Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.) – $5.6 million (-35%), $158.6m cume 8. White Boy Rick (Sony) – $4.4 million (-50%), $16.9m cume 10. Peppermint (STX) – $3.3 million (-45%), $29.9m cume