BOXOFFICE takes a look at the commercial potential for some of October's biggest releases.

Looking Ahead: October

on September 16, 2008 by howtolosearticle.jpg

By Phil Contrino

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
Release Date: October 3
Director: Robert B. Weide
Cast: Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges, Megan Fox, Gillian Anderson, Danny Huston
Distributor: Paramount

Right off the bat, How To Lose Friends and Alienate People has a built-in audience thanks to the success of Toby Young’s memoir, which serves as its base. Plus, male audiences who were dragged by their significant others to watch The Devil Wears Prada may look at seeing this film as a kind of satisfying revenge.

How To Lose is going to represent a big box office test for its star, Simon Pegg. As of now, Pegg has a small, loyal following that doesn’t necessarily come out in droves all the time. For proof, look no further than the mediocre $6 million gross of this year’s Run, Fatboy, Run. And even Pegg’s successes, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, didn’t tap into larger mainstream audiences. Dead grossed $13.4 million on a shoestring budget and Fuzz improved upon that by hauling in $23.6 million.

If audiences catch on to How To Lose, there is the potential for a sequel. Young hilariously adapted his attempt to work as a screenwriter in Hollywood into a follow-up memoir, The Sound of No Hands Clapping.

Body of Lies
Release Date: October 10
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Between Body of Lies and Revolutionary Road, Leonardo DiCaprio has a busy fall season ahead of him.

DiCaprio’s last three films, Blood Diamond, The Departed and The Aviator, have really solidified him as a substantial box office draw. Of course, Warner Bros. is probably hoping that Lies becomes “the next Departed ” considering that the Academy Award-winning crime saga hit up American audiences for $132.4 million in 2006.

As for director Ridley Scott, he’s coming off the huge success of American Gangster last fall, which grossed $130 million domestically.

After his mini-slump with Cinderella Man and A Good Year, Russell Crowe rebounded big last year with Gangster and 3:10 To Yuma, which means that audiences are back in his corner.

Release Date: October 17 (limited)
Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Thandie Newton
Distributor: Lionsgate

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and W. should face plenty of that from conservatives when it hits theatres next month.

Even if audiences hate the idea of portraying George W. Bush on film so soon, curiosity will most likely get the best of them. To its advantage, W. comes complete with a must-see factor and Stone may have won back a little trust from mainstream audiences after he handled World Trade Center with artistic restraint. WTC grossed $70.2 million domestically.

Then again, Stone is hit-and-miss when it comes to tackling the lives of presidents on the bigscreen. JFK is one of his biggest successes with a domestic gross of $70.4 million and Nixon is one of his biggest failures with $13.7 million.

Release Date: October 24 (limited)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Colm Feore
Distributor: Universal

Lately, it seems like Clint Eastwood can do no wrong.

Even if it didn’t win over large audiences and every critic, Eastwood’s one-two punch of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima was regarded as an extremely ambitious undertaking and each film reached a very respectable level of success on its own terms.

Helping Eastwood put people in the seats this time around will be Changeling star Angelina Jolie. Jolie generates more natural publicity than almost any other actress working today, which will certainly help bring audiences to the film that normally wouldn’t have seen it. In addition, Oscar buzz already surrounds Changeling, which means that it will be a must-see for anybody who follows the Awards season.

If anything, the dark themes of the film may turn some viewers off and make them think twice before throwing their money down for something so somber looking.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Release Date: October 31
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Long, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

The combination of Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith is one that should seem all too natural to film enthusiasts and diehard fans of both Rogen and Smith. Yet while Rogen has proven to be an unconventional box office draw - Pineapple Express has grossed $85 million domestically since opening in August— Smith has never really been able to reach beyond his core fan base. The writer/director’s highest grossing film is still Dogma with $30.7 million.

The buzz factor is going to be particularly important for Porno. If the film can offend and shock people enough then it may become one of the surprise must-see movies of the fall.

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