The Biggest Movie of the Fall of 2015 Will Be…


We’re in the midst of a record-breaking box office year. It’s almost unbelievable. Jurassic World broke the record for the all-time biggest opening weekend. It currently ranks third on the list of all-time worldwide money makers—just a bit ahead of Furious 7 (#5) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (#6). Take that in. Three of the top six most popular films in terms of box office came out in the last four months.

And that isn’t even getting into the “smaller” hits of the year. Inside Out is poised to pass Finding Nemo to become the second-highest grossing Pixar film domestically. Minions earned the best opening weekend for an animated movie in domestic box office history. Trainwreck far surpassed expectations during its opening weekend and has held up remarkably since. Ditto Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road.

But the year isn’t over yet, folks. There’s still LOTS of money to be made this fall. It’s true that a lot of films opening in the last third of the year will make significant portions of their final box office totals in 2016, But when we finally evaluate the movie year that was 2015, the financial totals for the newest Star Wars and the final Hunger Games will count in their entirety.

So in addition to figuring out what will be the biggest movie of the fall, let’s see how that film stacks up to the rest of 2015’s box office titans.



It’d be foolish to start with anything other than Star Wars. Some are predicting The Force Awakens to make as much as half a billion dollars worldwide—in its first weekend. Disney and Lucas Films no doubt hopes to begin this new phase of the Star Wars saga with a bang, and unlike most of the films coming out this fall, this one doesn’t even need to be good to make boatloads of cash. Of course, it should be good; There aren’t any good reasons to expect otherwise. But this one will be bulletproof this Christmas. The only question is whether it can measure up to the extremely high bar set by Jurassic World.

So what about Katniss? Well, Mockingjay: Part 1 grossed almost a hundred million domestic dollars less than Catching Fire did. Are people growing tired of the Hunger Games saga? I think the films’ quality has remained consistent, but perhaps we’re spoiled in that we don’t have to wait very long at all between installments. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. (Just look at Jurassic World and the anticipation for Star Wars.) Still, the final Hunger Games movie should open strong, and its final total should rank among the top five of the year domestically.

Spectre is a bit of a wild card for me. I have no doubts it will do very well, but to what extent was the box office gross of Skyfall, its immediate predecessor in the James Bond franchise, an anomaly? It nearly doubled the previous domestic high water mark for a Bond movie, but it also happened to be the very best film in the entire franchise, and more importantly, it didn’t have a Hunger Games or Star Wars movie stealing business away from it during its run. I expect good things from this film, but I’m not sure it’s going to be another Skyfall.

The Good Dinosaur takes the tried and true Pixar formula and adds dinosaurs. (They’re a little popular this year, if you haven’t heard.) It’s going to make some money.



The rest of the landscape is a little trickier to measure. The financial success or failure of movies depend a lot more on quality than in the fall than they do in the spring or summer. That said, a few obvious $100 million candidates stand out:

  • Quentin Tarantino surpassed that magic $100 million mark with his last two films, so The Hateful Eight (opening Christmas day) shouldn’t have much difficulty hitting nine digits domestically.
  • Everest looks like an adventurous, thrilling crowdpleaser. The fact that it’s opening the Venice Film Festival has a lot of cinephiles anticipating it more than they might otherwise. If its as good as that festival slot indicates it should be, it’ll be a huge hit.
  • The Martian will look to break the Mars movie box office curse. In its favor is the super popular novel upon which it’s based, as well as Matt Damon’s leading performance, which should help draw reluctant viewers into the theater.
  • Steve Jobs is considered an Oscar frontrunner. The Social Network, also penned by Aaron Sorkin and about a tech genius, is an obvious comparison, but I think this one will do better financially.
  • Creed resuscitates the Rocky franchise, but with a twist: Balboa is the trainer, and the son of Apollo Creed is the fighter. This one will be a great test of Michael B. Jordan’s star power. I think it does really well.


So how do these films stack up against one another this fall?
1.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2
3.) The Good Dinosaur
4.) Spectre
5.) Creed

And the final 2015 domestic box office should look a little like this:
1.) Jurassic World
2.) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3.) Avengers: Age of Ultron
4.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2
5.) Furious 7
6.) Inside Out
7.) The Good Dinosaur
8.) Spectre
9.) Minions
10.) Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation

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