Last year two Best Picture nominated movies, The Martian and Bridge of Spies, went into wide release in October. Another nominated movie, Room, went into limited release in October to help build some buzz around the movie before releasing it to a wide audience in January. This year, according to awardscircuit.com, two October releases, The Birth of a Nation and The Girl on the Train, are top tier Best Picture contenders. October is a better than average month for the wide release of Best Picture nominees. In the last 25 years, 16 movies have gone into wide release in October that were nominated for Best Picture. Another 7 nominated movies went into limited release. That’s 14.6% of all Best Picture nominated movies over the last quarter century went into wide or limited release in October.
With this kind of track record you would expect that October is a great month for “really like” movies. This is not necessarily so. The “really like” probability for a movie that goes into wide release in October is 40.7%. This is better than September’s 38.3% but not much better. Part of the reason is that October is not a great box office month. Without a heavy dose of young moviegoers, October’s box office sales are about 37% less than the average monthly box office for the year. The Oscar contenders that open in October may not have the full confidence of the studios. The studios believe they are award worthy but aren’t confident enough in them to compete for box office sales with the movies slated to open around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. By opening in October, studios may believe that they are providing these movies with some time to build buzz and an audience without competing with some higher profile contenders. That being said, my five October picks below have my interest.
The Girl on the Train. Release date: October 7 “Really Like” Probability Forecast:50%
This movie has the feel of another October release from two years ago, Gone Girl. Based on a very popular book, The Girl on the Train is another thriller involving a missing person. The Director, Tate Taylor, has successfully directed the adaptation of another best seller, The Help, into a very successful movie. Can he do it again? I loved Gone Girl and I loved The Help. I’m betting that I will love The Girl on the Train as well.
The Birth of a Nation. Release date: October 7 “Really Like” Probability Forecast:45%
There is a lot of positive buzz about this movie and a lot of negative buzz about this movie’s director, Nate Parker, resulting from a 17 year old rape case. The “really like” probability has much to do with the former and not much to do with the latter, and so I will focus on the movie. At Sundance, the movie won both the Grand Jury award and Audience award. Fox Searchlight won the rights to the movie, with a record-breaking bid of $17.5 million, after a bidding war with Amazon and Netflix. The movie was shown on opening night at the Toronto Film Festival last month and received a standing ovation. This movie’s buzz is generated from people who have seen the movie. It is also the kind of historically based movie I enjoy.
The Accountant. Release date: October 14 “Really Like” Probability Forecast:40%
This movie looks like good escapist fun. How often do you see a math whiz as an action hero? This movie has an appealing cast, headed by Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick. The director, Gavin O’Connor, directed two movies I loved, Warrior and Miracle. And, the screenwriter for the movie, Bill Dubuque, also wrote the critically underrated 2014 film The Judge. I’m intrigued.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Release date: October 21 “Really Like” Probability Forecast:40%
I watched the first movie in this franchise, Jack Reacher, in 2015. While not quite a “really like” movie, I did enjoy it. So why is this movie on my prospect list? It is because Edward Zwick is directing it. Edward Zwick has directed five movies that I absolutely love, Glory, Courage Under Fire, Blood Diamond, Legends of the Fall, and The Last Samurai. I’m betting he will upgrade this second movie in the franchise to a “really like” movie.
Inferno. Release date: October 28 “Really Like” Probability Forecast:35%
Readers of this blog are aware that I am an admirer of the work of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. This is their third collaboration involving author Dan Brown’s character, Robert Langdon. I’ve read the first two books and I am on the last 150 pages of Inferno. I’ve seen the first two movies in the series, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. They both were “like”/”really like” movies. Inferno is on this list because I can’t help myself. I’m addicted.
These five selections are typical for October, a couple of Oscar contenders and a few crowd pleasers. There’s no guarantee I’ll “really like” any of them, but I want to. October is the beginning of the season for movies targeted at adults and I want to see more of them.