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Why ‘Inferno’ Will Brave Halloween As the Weekend’s Only Wide Release

Last Halloween was the worst box-office weekend in more than two years; for Tom Hanks, that's no reason to be scared.

Inferno Tom Hanks Felicity Jones

Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones in Ron Howard’s “Inferno.”

Columbia Pictures

Sony’s “Inferno” is getting a cold critical reception, but should have a cozy opening: The third “Da Vinci Code” adaptation from Ron Howard and Tom Hanks stands as the weekend’s only new wide release.

And however it fares, the $75 million production opened two weeks ago in international markets, where it earned over $100 million. (Both “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons” both did more than 70% of their business in foreign territories.)

Reviews aside, there’s reason to believe “Inferno” will perform well. International success provides some positive spin, Tom Hanks is coming off of “Sully,” and the film has credibility from fans of the Dan Brown novels and their adaptations. Finally, it’s positioned to benefit from an older segment of the moviegoing audience who isn’t particularly interested in Halloween.

 

Expectations are this will open to over $20 million, but not by much. That would be a big drop from “Angels & Demons,” which opened to $53 million. But that was seven years ago, and reviews for “Inferno” are worse than its predecessors. And this production was shaped for international audiences; other than Hanks, the cast is almost entirely non-American. (Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, and Ben Foster are the best-known actors.)

Director Ron Howard is coming off the niche success of “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.” But among his bread-and-butter studio releases, he is looking for his first opening over $20 million and total domestic run gross over $50 million since “Angels & Demons.” His last film, “In the Heart of the Sea,” was an expensive flop, but overall he hasn’t been a major force for over a decade.

 

Halloween weekend 2015 was the worst in more than two years. October 31 fell on a Saturday, and the Top 10 totaled only $59 million. There were two new wide releases, “Burnt” and “Our Brand Is Crisis;” together, they barely grossed $8 million. This year, even with major declines, last weekend’s top entries should help the overall Top 10 totals. Both “Boo! A Madea Halloween” (Lionsgate) and “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” (Paramount) could approach $15 million.

 

Moonlight” (A24) is expanding to both some of the usual cities for a second week of a platform film, but also to the Miami area, where it was filmed and set, and Atlanta. After sensational initial results in New York and Los Angeles, these new dates will show if this has crossover potential to bolster its award chances.

 

The specialized scene (which also saw impressive initial results for the Magnolia’s “The Handmaiden”) is also a calendar victim with limited new entries. Getting the best reviews are three documentaries. Two are music oriented: “Oasis: Supersonic” (A24) and Jim Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger” (Magnolia), which features Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The third, Werner Herzog’s “Into the Inferno” will have its qualifying run following prime festival dates; its main exposure will come on Netflix.

 

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