Last weekend's winner Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children helped bring the box office out of the September doldrums with an opening weekend victory of $28.8 million, besting another high-profile new release, the true story adaptation Deepwater Horizon, which opened in second place with $20.2 million. The first weekend in October brings three new releases to challenge Miss Peregrine, Universal's The Girl On the Train, Fox Searchlight's The Birth Of a Nation and Lionsgate's Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life. We're predicting that, despite some middling reviews, The Girl On the Train will take the top spot with $24.3 million.
The Girl On the Train is based on the wildly popular debut novel by Paula Hawkins, which became a publishing sensation when it debuted in January 2015. While some movie adaptations can take years to get production started, Tate Taylor signed on to direct in May 2015, with the cast coming together swiftly in just a few months, before production began in New York City this past October. Box Office Mojo reports that The Girl On the Train will debut in more than 3,000 theaters, while Middle School will arrive in roughly 2,600 theaters and The Birth Of a Nation is set to debut in 2,000 theaters.
As of now, The Girl On the Train isn't as big a hit with movie critics as it was with its literary counterparts, with just a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Birth of a Nation, writer-director-star Nate Parker's indie film that took Sundance by storm, and was purchased by Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million in January, has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Some are wondering whether or not the 17-year-old rape accusation against writer-director-star Nate Parker which recently resurfaced will hurt its box office performance and/or its Oscar chances. Lionsgate's Middle School doesn't have enough reviews for a Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes quite yet.
In the thriller The Girl On the Train, Rachel (Emily Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Emily Blunt leads an all-star cast in The Girl on the Train, alongside Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon. Tate Taylor (The Help) directs from an adapted screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (Men, Women and Children).
Set against the antebellum South, The Birth Of a Nation follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates a slave uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom. The supporting cast includes Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Mark Boone Junior, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Alkoya Brunson. We're predicting that The Birth of a Nation will take third place with $12.4 million, behind last week's winner Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in second place with $16.2 million.
Deepwater Horizon ($11.4 million) and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life ($9.4 million) will likely round out the top 5 this weekend. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life follows imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian is tired of his middle school's obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild. The cast includes Lauren Graham, Adam Pally, Rob Riggle, Efren Ramirez, Griffin Gluck, Isabela Moner and Andrew Daly.
The top 10 will likely be rounded out by The Magnificent Seven ($8.5 million), Storks ($7.3 million), Sully ($4.1 million), Masterminds ($3.2 million) and Queen of Katwe ($1.4 million). Also opening in limited release is Rialto's The Battle of Algiers, Strand's Being 17, Shout! Factory's Blinky Bill, The Orchard's Blue Jay, FilmRise's The Greasy Strangler, Cinestaan's Mirzya, Vertical Entertainment's Under the Shadow, Arc Entertainment's documentary Torchbearer, ArtAffects' Voiceless, Well Go USA's Phantasm: Remastered and IMAX's Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience. We don't know for sure if any of these limited release titles will expand in the weeks and months to come.
Looking ahead to next weekend, three new movies will open in wide release. Warner Bros.' The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, will go up against Lionsgate's stand-up comedy concert film Kevin Hart: What Now? and Open Road Films' Max Steel. Also opening in limited release is IFC's Certain Women, STX Entertainment's Desierto, Pantelion's La Leyenda del Chupacabras, Arc Entertainment's Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, GKIDS' Miss Hokusai, Roadside Attractions' Priceless, Indican's Search Engines and TriCoast Worldwide's Shadow World. Check back on Sunday for the box office estimates, but until then, take a look at our predictions for the weekend of October 7.