October Box Office Returns Could Be So Good It’s Scary

A slate loaded with anticipated films, led by the return of “Halloween,” could make this the biggest October ever

The 2018 box office has been a great one for movie theaters and studios, highlighted by a summer that nearly set a new seasonal record, thanks to a winning combination of highly-anticipated blockbusters and intriguing adult dramas and documentaries. Now, the industry is heading into an October that could be a mini-summer of sorts.

The most successful October releases in box office history tend to be awards contenders that have a long shelf life, largely due to their Oscar buzz. Think films like “The Martian” or “Gravity,” the latter of which currently holds the October opening weekend record with $55 million. Blockbusters, on the other hand, tend to wait until November or December to make their debut.

But this October, there’s not one but two films that could break the opening weekend record of “Gravity” and become the first releases to launch to more than $60 million a piece. This weekend, Sony will release the “Spider-Man” spinoff “Venom,” a film that, while currently being savaged by critics, should still at least see a strong opening weekend from comic book fans and contribute well above $100 million to the month’s total gross over the next four weekends.

But two weeks later, we could see the biggest hit in October history with the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to “Halloween,” in a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. The Universal/Blumhouse film, like “Venom,” is also expected to open to at least $60 million, with some analysts telling TheWrap that a $70 million start is very much possible. “Halloween” has earned acclaim from critics since its debut in Toronto, and with audiences looking for a good horror film to celebrate the season, the movie could earn a huge sum in the first two weeks of its release.

But you can’t get to a record month with just two big blockbusters. Also on the slate this month are several potential awards contenders, led by Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born,” whose box office trajectory could mirror that of “The Martian.” The Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga remake, with its critical acclaim and appeal to older audiences and Gaga’s Little Monsters alike, should give it plenty of life through October and into November.

Other potential awards contenders that arrive this month include Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” follow-up, “First Man,” the Steve Carell/Timothee Chalamet drug addiction drama “Beautiful Boy,” and Melissa McCarthy’s foray into prestige films with “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” For moviegoers looking for an alternative to popcorn flicks, there will be plenty of options available in the weekends to come.

The result is a movie menu loaded with variety and quality, something that will always lead to big box office numbers no matter what time of year. If all the films perform above their weight class, we could see this October break the monthly record of $758 million set in 2014.

“Hollywood is so packed now with end-of-year blockbusters that the industry is starting to spill over into October,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “Horror used to be the only thing that plays in this month, but distributors are starting to realize you can put out a mid-budget wide release or an awards contender in October and reap the benefits.”

A strong October will also keep 2018 on course to pass 2016’s $11.3 billion for the highest annual total ever recorded. Currently, the year-to-date domestic total is set to pass $9 billion this weekend, and is currently 8.4 percent ahead of last year and 3 percent ahead of 2016.