Forecast: 'Goosebumps', 'Spies' & 'Crimson Peak' Jostle for Audience Attention
As Halloween approaches, Sony will forgo cinematic blood and guts and, instead, bring a children's horror story to theaters this weekend with the release of Goosebumps. Made for a reported $58 million, the adaptation of the classic children's horror stories from author R.L. Stine turns the writer into the leading character, played by Jack Black. The film enters its first frame in a crowded marketplace, but each of this week's new films appear to have their own target demographic. Goosebumps just so happens to serve the widest audience and represents the largest theater count among the four new wide releases.

Additional releases include Steven Spielberg's adult-targeted Bridge of Spies; Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak eyes horror fans (more on that in a second); and Woodlawn hopes to find its own faith-based box office success. Overall, the weekend looks strong and I'm predicting a 9.7% uptick compared to last year.

Translated into 32 languages and with more than 350 million books sold worldwide, Goosebumps is looking to finish #1, but finding comparable titles for a prediction is a curious task. While Stine's series of books is the second best-selling book series of all time, surpassed only by Harry Potter, the film adaptation may end up a success, but Harry Potter numbers aren't at all likely. It also isn't looking to perform as poorly as 2009's Cirque du Freak or 2007's The Seeker. Closer comparisons would seem to be the first Percy Jackson film, which brought in $31.2 million in 2010 and Ender's Game, which brought in $27 million in 2013.

Additional comparisons include Night at the Museum ($30.4m opening) and Adam Sandler's 2008 family feature Bedtime Stories ($27.4m opening). Taking those films into account along with what appears to be overall, positive reviews and we're looking at a weekend in the range of $28-35 million. I'm targeting the middle of that range with a $31.6 million prediction from 3,501 theaters.

With Goosebumps on top this means The Martian will have to settle for second in its third weekend of release. The film has shown good day-to-day performance and, whether we're talking first or second place, this should be yet another strong weekend for the Ridley Scott sci-fi. Overall, it's playing behind Gravity, but ahead of Interstellar at this stage in its release and a weekend drop of 35% and an overall three-day around $24 million should keep this one on track for a $200 million domestic run.

In third we find Spielberg's workmanlike Bridge of Spies, which sees the director re-teaming with Tom Hanks for a fourth time. Incredibly strong reviews and the name recognition of this duo should give it a slight edge, looking at an opening in the $20 million range. This puts it about $5 million behind the opening for 2013's Captain Phillips and pretty much on point with 2012's Argo. Both those films finished above $100 million along with a combined 13 Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture win for Argo. I don't know if Spies will have the legs to hit $100 million, but, having seen it, a handful of Oscar nominations certainly seems likely, most notably for Mark Rylance with a strong supporting performance.

Next we come to Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak, which is more of a gothic romance than the horror film Universal appears to be marketing it as. For fans of del Toro, the film plays much closer to his Spanish-language features, which I typically prefer, though it's not up to par with the likes of Pan's Labyrinth or The Devil's Backbone. The film's performance on Saturday and Sunday will depend on how the audience reacts to what Crimson Peak actually is opposed to what they think it will be walking in. The CinemaScore will tell us a lot about this reaction as I expect the chief complaint will be that it's too slow and, admittedly, the second act is a bit tedious.

From a critical standpoint, Crimson Peak has earned largely positive reviews, including ecstatic reactions out of Fantastic Fest, and that should help opening day numbers. This is also the first "horror" film since M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit and the first this October, ahead of next weekend's more straight-forward horror in Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. While Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain represent a strong leading cast I'm not sure they bring in an overwhelming amount of audience members, which has me predicting an opening weekend around $15.2 million from 2,983 theaters. I'm using The Others as my primary comparison, which opened with $14 million in 2001.

The final, new wide release of the weekend is the faith-based sports drama Woodlawn, which will be released by Pure Flix into approximately 1,500 theaters. The film stars Sean Astin, Nic Bishop, C. Thomas Howell and Jon Voight with sibling directors Jon and Andy Erwin (Mom's Night Out, October Baby) at the helm. There are no early reviews and, as with the majority of the faith-based features, the marketing is a mystery to me. That said, I'm going to use the Erwin's Mom's Night Out, which opened in 1,044 theaters last year for a $4.3 million opening, as a comparison and predict a $5.2 million three-day. Fingers crossed.

Looking backward, Pan's disappointing $15.3 million opening last weekend could be only the start as it hasn't performed all that well this week. That could certainly be due to the fact children are in school, but the film faces a bigger problem. With Goosebumps now in theaters and Hotel Transylvania 2 continuing to do well, is there much of an audience left for poor Peter? I'm sensing a 55% drop if not more, and a second weekend around $6.8 million.

On a brighter note, opening with the best per theater average for a 2015 release last weekend, Universal's Steve Jobs expands into 60 theaters this weekend . If it follows the success of Sicario from a couple weekends ago, it could be looking at a bump of more than 300% and a weekend around $2.2 million, enough for an eleventh place finish this weekend before expanding nationwide next week.

Opening in limited theaters this week is the simultaneous theatrical and Netflix streaming release of Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation into 31 theaters; the potential Oscar contender Truth starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford into six theaters; and the latest, 8 Films to Die For horror anthology from After Dark into eleven theaters.

Below are this weekend's predictions.

  • Goosebumps (3,501 theaters) - $31,596,525
  • The Martian (3,701 theaters) - $24,052,799
  • Bridge of Spies (2,811 theaters) - $19,677,000
  • Crimson Peak (2,983 theaters) - $15,213,300
  • Hotel Transylvania 2 (3,533 theaters) - $12,457,358
  • Pan (3,515 theaters) - $6,892,915
  • The Intern (2,707 theaters) - $6,074,508
  • Woodlawn (1,500 theaters) - $5,250,000
  • Sicario (2,130 theaters) - $4,775,460
  • Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (1,967 theaters) - $3,115,728

  • Steve Jobs (60 theaters) - $2,232,120

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.