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It Will Get Worse For Theaters: September Box Office Preview

Giphy Images.

Last weekend was the worst one the box office has seen since January. The number one movie was The Invitation which brought in $6.8 million, the lowest amount for a number one movie in 17 months. The end of summer has long been a dumping ground for movie studios and audiences do typically stay away. People are focused on getting kids back to school and football starting back up. But it's not usually THIS bad.

Before we get into what next month looks like, let's take a look back at last month. In this blog below, I set a line on whether each new release would hit $100 million dollars.

Here's how the movies are looking so far:

Moneyline on these movies making $100 million domestic (current box office totals):

DC League of Super-Pets: -140 ($74.3 million. Been out for 32 days. At best a 2% shot)

Bullet Train: +225 ($78.7 million. Out for 25 days. Only movie that still has a really good chance)

Easter Sunday +750 ($12.5 million. Out for 25 days. Was out of the top 10 in 2nd week.)

Three Thousand Years of Longing: +800 ($3.2 million. Out for 4 days. DOA)

Beast: +1650 ($20.4 million. Out for 11 days. Huge drop off in week 2. No chance.)

Bodies Bodies Bodies: +1850 ($9.7 million. Out for 24 days. Another A24 movie with positive reviews and no audience)

Mack & Rita: +2000 ($2.4 million. Out for 24 days. Maybe the least popular movie of the month critically and with theatergoers)

The Invitation: +2500 ($7.3 million. Just opened last weekend. Reviews and word of mouth have been terrible. Won't hit $60)

Vengeance: +3000 ($4.2 million. Out for 32 days. Looks like a good little movie. Maybe it'll get another chance on streaming)

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero: +3500 ($31.3 million. Out for 11 days. Had over 70% drop-off from previous week. Won't happen)

Samaritan: +4000 (Ended up being released exclusively on Amazon Prime)

Fall: +4000 ($5.9 million. Out for 18 days. Never connected with audiences)

Here's a weekend by weekend look at the new releases coming out in September:

September 2

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.

This looks interesting but I don't know who it's for. It's about a megachurch pastor and his wife (Sterling K. Brown & Regina Hall) who is trying to come back from a scandal. I don't see the traditional church crowd who would support a movie about religion going out to this and do non-religious people want to see a movie about a pastor? The other reason it won't succeed in the box office is it is coming out on Peacock the same day.

Prediction of what is #1: It'll be in it's 5th weekend but Bullet Train has the best chance. The Invitation is showing a huge drop-off already.

September 9

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Barbarian

When there are few movies available, horror movies in the first week of release are the best bet. This has no chance of being a big hit but it could take the weekend. It's gotten no buzz but there are fewer options in the theaters since early winter. It's the first major release by director Zach Cregger but it does have a talented cast and maybe the Airbnb concept will hit with younger adults? 

Medieval 

Shot in 2018, this is most expensive Czech film ever made. It takes place in the 15th Century and tells the story of Jan Zizka, who was a legendary Czech general and knight. The cast boasts Ben Foster and Michael Caine but even with little competition, this is going to have a tough time even cracking the top 5. I imagine it will play better internationally but I don't see any appetite for this in the box office currently. 

Prediction of what will be #1: Barbarian but it doesn't crack $10 million.

September 13

Clerks 3

This is easily the most anticipated movie to come out in weeks and it's not getting a regular release. It will only be in theaters for Tuesday, September 13 through Sunday, September 18. Even that was extended after fans complained from the original plan to only have it theaters as a "special event" for two days.

Lionsgate has completely fucked this up. This movie was never going to make $100 million but Clerks 2 brought in $24 million back in 2006. That's not a big number Kevin Smith is able to make his movies very inexpensively and if this was released over Labor Day weekend, it couldn't drift through the month making a profit on Gen Xers looking for something to see in theaters?

September 16

The Woman King

Out of all the movies that are being released this month, this has the biggest chance of being a blockbuster. Those chances are very slim but they at least exist. This also has the potential for Oscar buzz as well. Four time nominee Viola Davis is the leader of a 19th century kingdom looking to protect itself from invaders. The trailer has nearly 10 million views on YouTube and I like this to win the weekend.

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See How They Run

A decade or two ago, this would have been an ideal movie to release in the Fall. Comedic murder mystery that takes place in England with talented actors like Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan and Adrian Brody. Older audiences see it throughout the Fall, it makes $45 million total and everyone forgets it existed once the Oscar favorites come out in Thanksgiving. 

This won't hit $45 million in this climate but I give the producers credit. It was supposed to come out at the end of the month but they pushed it up two weeks to take advantage of the lack of competition. So far, Boomers have not been going back to the theaters since COVID. People can start to think differently after Labor Day and maybe this will be the season when they return but until that happens, movies like this can not be expected to do well.

Prediction of what will be #1: The Woman King but Clerks 3 might still be a strong #2 if it gets in enough theaters.

September 23

Avatar (2009 re-release)

This made $760 million when it came out over a decade ago and the sequel will be out later this year. By this point, audiences will be looking for a big movie to see in theaters…even if they already have seen it. The Star Wars original trilogy all hit #1 when those got re-released in the theaters in the late 90's. Obviously that franchise means a lot more to people but there is far less competition in the cinema in September of 2022. I like this to win the weekend. If Avatar can make $46 million during the run, it will pass Spider-Man: No Way Home for 3rd place all-time.

Don't Worry Darling

No movie this month has gotten more attention from TMZ than this one. Between director Olivia Wilde feuding at first with ex-husband Jason Sudeikis and then her lead actress Florence Pugh, Shia Lebeouf leaving during production and the constant coverage Harry Styles gets, this movie has been tabloid heaven. But will that translate to major box office numbers? R-rated dramas haven't made significant money in the box office since before the pandemic. For this to break out, it will need great reviews from critics as well as young people to be drawn in because of this cast. 

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Prediction of what will be #1: Avatar

September 30

Smile

Really scary trailer for a horror movie coming out nearing October? This might be the only movie all month that opens north of $20 million in its first weekend. It doesn't have a big name lead but plenty of horror movies have done very well using exactly the same recipe as Smile is. 

Bros

This is the first gay romantic comedy with an almost entirely LGBTQ cast to get a major release. It has a legit comedic director in Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a likable lead in Billy Eichner and it's produced by Judd Apatow.  Is this being marketed well enough? It's still a month away but the trailer has only 7 million views on YouTube but it does seem like Eichner is starting to ramp up promoting the movie this past week. When studios can assemble talented people to make a movie for an underserved community, it can pay off. Look at Crazy Rich Asians which made $174 million in the United States alone.

Predictions of what will be #1: Going with Smile for this weekend alone but Bros has the bigger upside.

Moneyline on these movies making $100 million domestic:

(I don't see any of these hitting that mark but here goes)

Bros +400

Smile +500

Avatar (re-release) +650

The Woman King +800

Don't Worry Darling +900

Barbarian +2500

See How They Run +3000

Medieval +6000

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. +7500

Clerks 3: No line due to not getting full release