Box Office: ‘Goosebumps’ Tries to Scare Off ‘The Martian’

Ghosts, goblins, and haunted houses will lend a spectral air to the multiplexes this weekend as the movie business gets ready for Halloween.

Two new films, “Goosebumps” and “Crimson Peak,” will try to fill the scary movie void while going after very different segments of the population. “Goosebumps,” a Sony Pictures adaptation of the R.L. Stine books, provides a goofier spin on the monster genre, and its PG rating should bring in families. “Crimson Peak,” on the other hand, is an R-rated Gothic chiller that is clearly pitched at adults.

Look for “Goosebumps” to come out on top, racking up between $20 million to $24 million when it debuts and threatening “The Martian’s” attempts to be the highest-grossing film for a third week in a row. Sony is being more conservative and pegging an opening in the $15 million range. The Jack Black film bows across more than 3,400 theaters and cost $58 million to make. Village Roadshow and co-financed and co-produced the picture. The hope is that parents who grew up with Stine’s books in the 1990s will take their kids in order to get a nostalgic fix, translating into a multi-generational hit. If “Goosebumps” lands on the higher end of projections, it may eclipse “The Martian” and its likely $20 million haul.

As for “Crimson Peak,” its director Guillermo del Toro is beloved by fanboys, but his Comic-Con cache doesn’t always translate into commercial success. “Crimson Peak,” which stars Mia Wasikowska as a new bride with a creepy groom (Tom Hiddelston) and sister-in-law (Jessica Chastain), may struggle to break through in a big way. The $55 million production is on track to open to $15 million when it kicks off across 2,983 theaters. That’s less than the $37.3 million that del Toro’s last film, “Pacific Rim” debuted to and the $20 million-plus debuts of his “Hellboy” films, but those pictures carried higher budgets. Legendary funded the film and Universal is distributing the picture. “Crimson Peak” will also touch down in 53 foreign markets.

Not all of the pictures entering the marketplace are obsessed with things that go bump in the night. As a bit of prestige counter-programming, DreamWorks is debuting the Steven Spielberg Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies” in roughly 2,800 theaters, where it should pull in $17 million from older audiences. The $40 million production stars frequent Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me If You Can”) and stage great Mark Rylance. It centers on an attorney who represents a suspected spy and is expected to be an Oscar contender. Reviews have been strong, with critics handing it an 89% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Disney is distributing the film, which was co-financed by Participant Media.

That leaves one final new release vying for attention. Pure Flix will attempt to bring out the faith-based crowds who recently turned “War Room” into an unexpected smash, when they debut “Woodlawn” on 1,500 screens. The picture centers on a high school football team that makes an unlikely playoff run following a spiritual awakening among its players. It should do $4 million in its opening weekend. Pure Flix did not provide budget information.

As the opening of “Bridge of Spies” suggests, the year is now firmly in the awards season portion of the calendar. To that end, several Oscar-bait films will debut in limited release this weekend, among them A24’s “Room,” a critically adored drama about an abducted mother and her child, and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Truth,” a look at the controversial “60 Minutes” report on President George W. Bush’s National Guard service that derailed the careers of Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett).

Netflix will also debut the child soldier drama “Beasts of No Nation” on its streaming service and concurrently in theaters, hoping its unorthodox release strategy won’t alienate Academy Awards voters.

After scoring the year’s biggest per-screen average with “Steve Jobs,” Universal will try to see if mainstream crowds turn up for the examination of the life of the father of the iPhone. The picture moves from four theaters to 66 before going wide on Oct. 23.

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