With ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Struggles, October Box Office Looks Rough

Despite underperforming, “Blade Runner 2049” could still have the biggest box office opening this month

After an “It”-fueled surge in September, the box office is slowing down again in the early stages of October. After “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” closed out last month by taking the top spot with just $17 million, “Blade Runner 2049” surprisingly underperformed with $32.7 million, well below hopes of a $45-50 million start.

But despite that letdown, it could still have the highest opening weekend of this month, as the remaining releases on the October slate aren’t expected to do any better.

This weekend, the film expected to take the top spot is Universal/Blumhouse’s “Happy Death Day,” which is projecting for a $18-20 million bow.

From 2010-2015, the highest opening total for an October release was at least $45 million, with 2013’s “Gravity” and 2015’s “The Martian” pushing above $50 million. But last year, all of October’s releases had openings of under $25 million, resulting in the lowest total revenue for the month since 2007. While this October will see a small flow of revenue from “It” with moviegoers flocking to it again as Halloween approaches, it’s looking like this month’s offerings will perform as disappointingly as last year’s did.

The September boom helped 2017’s year-to-date totals catch up to 2016, dropping the deficit from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent, but by the time this month comes to an end, much of that progress could be undone.

“There was a little hope that we could ride it out this month until we get to a much better November,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “But this is going to be a really rough month. The only possible hope I can see is if ‘Happy Death Day’ is able to get a strong turnout from the high school and college-age crowd, which is where horror has been getting a lot of traction recently.”

Indeed, even though “It” was an R-Rated film, comScore says that teens made up 15 percent of the audience that contributed to its record $123 million opening.

“Happy Death Day,” which follows a college-age girl forced to relive the day of her murder over and over again until she figures out the killer, could possibly perform above expectations if it can court younger audiences.

Its PG-13 rating will help with that, as will the fact that it is being produced by Blumhouse, the studio that turned “Get Out” and “Split” into box office juggernauts this past winter.

But for now, the forecast points to another dry spell for movie theaters, which will be anxiously waiting for “Thor: Ragnarok” to come to the rescue at the start of November. Early tracking for the next Marvel installment will arrive this Thursday.