Sluggish October 2016 Box Office Contributes to Lackluster Fall Season
A lackluster October 2016 at the box office saw calendar grosses down ~8% compared to last year, contributing to a disappointing Fall movie season that finished down 9.3% compared to 2015. As a result, only one new release in the Fall 2016 timeframe (Sully) has managed to gross over $100 million domestically so far and it would appear it's going to remain that way. Overall, October saw a record 293 films (+32 compared to 2015) generate $657.4 million compared to the $715.3 million from 261 films last year, resulting in the second worst per film average over the last 35 years.

For both, 2016's October timeframe and the Fall movie season, this was the second year in a row that saw a decline in grosses, which could be chalked up to the fact 2014 delivered a record Fall movie season, driven by a record October. That said, while October 2015 was down just 5.6% compared to 2014, October 2016 is down 13.27% compared to 2014.

October 2016's largest grossing calendar earner was Fox's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, receiving $71.3m of its $83.2m in October after opening on the last day of September. As for October's new releases, the top five are led by Warner Bros' The Accountant and Universal's The Girl on the Train, the latter of which opened a week earlier.

Here's a look at the top five among the month's new releases:

  • The Accountant (10/14) - $70.8m Total Gross / $24.7m Opening
  • The Girl on the Train (2016) (10/7) - $70.6m Total Gross / $24.5m Opening
  • Boo! A Madea Halloween (10/21) - $64.9m Total Gross / $28.5m Opening
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (10/21) - $49.1m Total Gross / $22.9m Opening
  • Ouija: Origin of Evil (10/21) - $31.3m Total Gross / $14.1m Opening Total Gross is calculated as of November 7

Both The Accountant and The Girl on the Train, have made just over $70 million so far and neither are looking as if they will leg out a $100 million domestic run, which means this will be the first October since 2008 not to deliver a $100+ million grossing film. For that matter, Sully has every appearance of being the only Fall 2016 movie to gross over $100 million, the first time since 2010 only one Fall release will top the century mark.

From a records standpoint, October 2016 struggled, at least when it comes to the kind of records one would wish to be associated with. The closest thing to a noteworthy record the month saw was the opening for Lionsgate's Boo! A Madea Halloween, which debuted with $28.5 million, the 25th largest October opening of all-time. In fact, Boo! is one of the best stories of the month as the Tyler Perry-directed feature topped the box office two weekends in a row, finishing ahead of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as they opened opposite one another, and bested Inferno's opening the following weekend. Boo! has since grossed $65 million domestically on a $20 million budget and will shortly become Perry's Tyler Perry as a director.

This isn't to say there weren't other successes. Universal's Ouija: Origins of Evil has so far brought in over $64 million worldwide on a $9 million budget and the studio also has a steady hit in The Girl on the Train, which has generated over $140 million worldwide on a $45 million budget. In fact, The Girl on the Train is one of several films released in October that targeted the adult demographic and while the month overall didn't set the record books on fire, that particular portion of the audience has been very well taken care of as of late.

Along with The Girl on the Train, October saw the release of The Accountant, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Inferno to name a few, all films generally targeting an older audience. In fact, The Accountant and Jack Reacher played to opening weekend audiences of which 86% and 82% were over the age of 25 respectively, and Girl on the Train played to an audience of which 73% was 25 years and older.

It should also be said that while this analysis is largely focused on domestic performance, a film like Inferno will be saved internationally. Hammered by critics and largely forgotten domestically, Inferno has yet to gross as much as The Da Vinci Code did in its first day of release domestically, but things will work out just fine. Thanks to a $75 million budget, half of what it cost to produce Angels and Demons, the film is heading into the black thanks to a worldwide gross that is already approaching $200 million. While far from a runaway success, Inferno will be able to avoid red ink while also offering Sony several ancillary prospects beyond its theatrical performance.

Moving along, October also saw a pair of limited releases deliver strong performances beginning with FIP's release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The film has generated $3.6 million so far and is FIP's second highest grossing film ever behind last year's Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.

The bigger (and still developing) story, however, is A24's release of Moonlight, which debuted in four theaters on October 21 with $402,075 for a $100,519 per theater average, the best of the year so far. The Barry Jenkins-directed feature has a 98% rating on RottenTomatoes and since release grossed over $3 million and will continue to expand throughout November and into December.

It's also worth noting, that while surrounded by controversy, Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation has so far grossed $15.5 million, making it—to date— the highest grossing film that played Sundance 2016. That's got to be cold comfort for Fox Searchlight though, as they picked the film up last January for $17.5 million, a record acquisition price for the fest. Despite widespread critical acclaim and the "A" CinemaScore it earned from opening day audiences, it was ultimately not enough to overcome the negativity that persisted before, during and after the film's release.

Going further down that rabbit hole, some less-than-flattering performances from October include Open Road's Max Steel, which opened with $2.18 million from 2,034 theaters, the 13th worst opening ever for a film playing in 2,000+ theaters. Max Steel went on to "enjoy" a 21 day theatrical run generating a mere $3.8 million.

Things were just as bad for Fox's ensemble comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses starring Isla Fisher, Zach Galifianakis, Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm. The film opened in 3,022 theaters and debuted with $5.4 million the eighth worst opening of all-time for a film playing in 3,000+ theaters. The film has grossed just under $14 million domestically so far on a $40 million budget.

From a yearly perspective, 2016 slipped a percentage point since the end of September as the year was +3.1% ahead of 2015 by the end of October with $9.218 billion in gross domestic earnings compared to $8.932 billion by the end of October 2015. However, six days into November and yearly grosses have already seen an uptick thanks to this past weekend's release of Doctor Strange and Trolls, pushing 2016 back up to a +4.4% improvement over last year.

To that point, November has more than its share of big titles hitting theaters. On top of the $85 million opening of Doctor Strange and $46 million opening for Trolls this past weekend, the month features the return of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them on November 18 and Disney is set to debut their next animated title in what is already their record year at the global box office with Moana over the Thanksgiving holiday, beginning on November 23.

The five-day Thanksgiving holiday also includes the release of the Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard World War II drama Allied, the return of Billy Bob Thornton as the title character in Bad Santa 2 and Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply.

November also features the release of Denis Villeneuve's highly touted sci-fi feature Arrival, the holiday-themed ensemble comedy Almost Christmas, EuropaCorp's thriller Shut In, Open Road's boxing drama Bleed for This, STX's coming-of-age drama The Edge of Seventeen.

Oscar season is also starting to get underway as TriStar will debut Ang Lee's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles on November 11 before it goes wide a week later. Roadside will also debut Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck, on November 18 and The Weinstein Co. will release Lion on November 25.

Finally, several films ended their domestic run in October, below is a list of the top twenty based on cumulative domestic gross.

  • Jason Bourne (Uni) - $59.2m Opening / $162.2m Total gross after 91 days in release
  • Star Trek Beyond (Par) - $59.3m Opening / $158.8m Total gross after 91 days in release
  • Bad Moms (STX) - $23.8m Opening / $113.3m Total gross after 91 days in release
  • The BFG (Buena Vista) - $18.8m Opening / $55.5m Total gross after 105 days in release
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Fox) - $16.6m Opening / $46m Total gross after 98 days in release
  • War Dogs (WB) - $14.7m Opening / $43m Total gross after 63 days in release
  • Nerve (Lionsgate) - $9.4m Opening / $38.6m Total gross after 72 days in release
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (Par) - $6.6m Opening / $27.4m Total gross after 77 days in release
  • Ben-Hur (Par) - $11.2m Opening / $26.4m Total gross after 49 days in release
  • Mechanic: Resurrection (Lionsgate) - $7.5m Opening / $21.2m Total gross after 63 days in release
  • Blair Witch (Lionsgate) - $9.6m Opening / $20.8m Total gross after 42 days in release
  • Nine Lives (EuropaCorp) - $6.2m Opening / $19.7m Total gross after 84 days in release
  • The Infiltrator (Broad Green) - $5.3m Opening / $15.4m Total gross after 86 days in release
  • Hillary's America* (Quality Flix) - $.1m Opening / $13.1m Total gross after 91 days in release
  • Cafe Society* (Lionsgate) - $.4m Opening / $11.1m Total gross after 84 days in release
  • The Wild Life (Lionsgate) - $3.3m Opening / $8m Total gross after 35 days in release
  • Captain Fantastic** (Bleecker) - $.1m Opening / $5.9m Total gross after 112 days in release
  • Hands of Stone (Weinstein) - $1.8m Opening / $4.7m Total gross after 49 days in release
  • Morgan (Fox) - $2m Opening / $3.9m Total gross after 35 days in release
  • The Disappointments Room (Relativity) - $1.4m Opening / $2.4m Total gross after 49 days in release * Platform release; ** Limited release

For a look at October's performance click here and for the full November release calendar click here.

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