October 2017 Box Office Returned to the Year's Downward Trend

by Brad Brevet

November 14, 2017

After September delivered record numbers, the month of October saw the 2017 box office return to its downward trend, delivering calendar grosses down 15.6% compared to last year, falling below $600 million for the first time in ten years. Perhaps most startling is that with 287 films in release, the average per film was just $1.9 million, making it the first time that average has ever fallen below $2.1 million for any individual month based on BoxOfficeMojo's records going back to 1982. That being said, the Fall movie season has since come to an end and overall the season showed a ~6% improvement compared to last year thanks in large part to the record setting release of WB's It back in September, which became the first Fall release to ever gross over $300 million domestically.

In fact, Warner Bros. had a strong Fall season overall, leading the charge in August, September and again in October despite the fact the studio's Blade Runner 2049 and Geostorm failed to live up to their expectations and/or budgets this past month. To that point, the month featured a lot of struggling titles such as Paramount's Suburbicon and Universal's The Snowman, neither hardly registering a blip on the radar. Overall, while the year started to dig out of its hole by the end of September, by the end of October 2017 the year-to-year comparison was pacing 5.3% behind 2016.

As already mentioned, Warner Bros. led the way in October with seven films generating just over $172 million, led by Blade Runner 2049, which kicked off its domestic run with a soft $32.7 million debut and went on to gross $82.5 million throughout the month of October. Budgeted at a reported $150 million the film has since grossed nearly $250 million worldwide and it won't likely climb much higher as it has already debuted in 100% of the international marketplace and failed to generate much interest in its last two marketplaces, China and Japan, where it has grossed just over $11 million and $6 million respectively since releasing on October 27.

Otherwise, WB continued to generate box office receipts from It throughout October, adding nearly $38 million to its bottom line. The studio's third highest grossing film for the month with $24.9 million was Geostorm, a $120 million production that has only generated a little over $30 million domestically, and has grossed nearly $170 million overseas, including over $63 million from China. The LEGO Ninjago Movie also came up just shy of $25 million in October as its domestic gross now stands at $58.5 million.

October's runner-up is Universal, which brought in a combined $97.8 million from six movies throughout the month of which nearly $50 million came from the release of Happy Death Day the latest low budget success from Blumhouse Productions. Budgeted just under $5 million, the film delivered 5.4 times its budget over the course of its opening weekend alone and has since generated over $88 million worldwide with eleven markets yet to open as of publication. Yet, while Universal had that hit, it also had a couple misses in The Snowman, a $35 million production that has yet to gross $7 million domestically, and Thank You for Your Service, a $20 million production (financed by Amblin and DreamWorks) that has grossed just over $9 million domestically.

Lionsgate took third position in October with six films generating $83.3 million, led by the horror comedy Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, which did manage to deliver the eleventh $20+ million opener of Perry's career, but is coming up well short of its predecessor. The month also saw the studio bring back the Saw franchise after a seven year hiatus with Jigsaw and the $10 million production has done more than make its money back, bringing in over $34 million domestically thus far and nearly $80 million worldwide. Overall, Lionsgate is having a solid year, generating over $730 million from 20 releases as of the end of October, a 43% improvement on 2016.

That being said, Warner Bros. was still leading all studios in 2017 with $1.77 billion in domestic box office receipts from 29 releases as of the end of October, a 9% improvement over last year despite releasing two fewer films. Universal places second with $1.45 billion from just 15 films and, despite the fact they hadn't released a new film since mid-June and brought in just $435k in October, Disney placed third with $1.4 billion. Disney, of course, has since released Thor: Ragnarok to monstrous numbers, pushing the studio's 2017 earnings to $1.6 billion, leapfrogging over Universal into second place as of November 12. Disney, however, is still pacing 30% behind where they were in 2016 at this point, though with upcoming releases including Pixar's Coco and Star Wars: The Last Jedi things should work out in their favor.

Just as Warner Bros. is leading the year so far, the studio also led the Fall movie season generating nearly $505 million from four films. It must be said, however, that nearly 65% of that comes courtesy of the record-breaking performance for It. In fact, as of publication It was the only Fall release to yet top $100 million. Fox's release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle should top $100 million soon enough making it a party of two and preventing this from becoming the second October in a row to not deliver a $100 million earner.

Looking ahead, November is off to a solid start, currently pacing 2% ahead of last year thanks in large part to the debut of Thor: Ragnarok two weeks ago and with some promising results from the likes of Murder on the Orient Express and Daddy's Home 2 this past weekend. This upcoming weekend also sees the release of WB and DC Comics' Justice League and Pixar's Coco will debut over the Thanksgiving holiday with little else hitting theaters in terms of wide releases this month.

Finally, a list of selected films that closed out their domestic runs in October is featured below, ordered by cumulative gross. Among them Universal's Girls Trip is the highest grossing title after it generated over $115 million domestically after 84 days in release. The $19 million production finished with a 3.7x multiplier and outgrossed last year's R-rated comedy hit Bad Moms. Additional highlights include Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, which grossed nearly $108 million after 114 days in release; Entertainment Studios' $5.5 million production 47 Meters Down grossed over $44 million domestically; and Lionsgate's release of Amazon Studios' The Big Sick grossed nearly $43 million after 122 days in release.

  • Girls Trip (Uni) - Closed with $115.11m after 84 days in release
  • Baby Driver (TriStar) - Closed with $107.83m after 114 days in release
  • The Dark Tower (Sony) - Closed with $50.7m after 77 days in release
  • 47 Meters Down (Ent Studios) - Closed with $44.31m after 126 days in release
  • The Big Sick (Lions) - Closed with $42.87m after 122 days in release
  • mother! (Par) - Closed with $17.8m after 42 days in release
  • The Glass Castle (Lions) - Closed with $17.27m after 63 days in release
  • Detroit (Anna) - Closed with $16.79m after 77 days in release
  • Wish Upon (Broad Green) - Closed with $14.3m after 91 days in release
  • Beatriz At Dinner (Roadside) - Closed with $7.12m after 119 days in release

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