September 26, 2022

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The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in September 2022


Images courtesy: Sony Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Studios

June and July were the two highest-grossing months yet for the post-pandemic box office. Compared to the equivalent month in the last pre-pandemic year, June finished only 16 percent behind June 2019—the best such showing up to that point. Until July, that is, which lagged only 12 percent behind July 2019.

Then, due to a lackluster release schedule, things changed dramatically. As of this writing, August is poised to not only finish potentially 40% or lower than August 2019; it could even finish about on par with (or possibly slightly lower than) August 2021, when cinemas were still experiencing a shaky road to recovery.

Barring an unexpected breakout, September unfortunately looks to continue that streak. September 2021 was led by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which would ultimately earn 224.5M. In 2019, It: Chapter Two, which would finish with $211.5M, led the pack. It’s possible that no film this month will reach $100M, let alone $200M.

Still, we have a groundbreaking romantic comedy, an anticipated psychological thriller, two horror titles, and three re-releases of some of the biggest movies of all time. Here are the biggest films coming to theaters in September 2022.


Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Version

Friday, September 2

Premise: Sony Pictures is bringing back what was by far the highest-grossing film of 2021, not to mention one of the highest-grossing films of all time, with a version including 11 minutes of new footage. The marketing materials for this re-release, including the short trailer and poster, contain spoilers which were hidden from the pre-release marketing materials for last December’s original cut.

Box office: A similar fall 2010 re-release of Avatar, about nine months following its December 2009 debut, made $10.7M. (Read more about Avatar later in this article.) For what it’s worth, 2021’s original version of No Way Home made $804.7M, though this re-release seems unlikely to earn more than about 5 percent of that at most.


Jaws (IMAX and 3D re-release)

Friday, September 2

Premise: It’s a big weekend for re-releases. Universal is bringing back Steven Spielberg’s horror-thriller Jaws, which started the modern summer blockbuster season as we know it back in 1975. You know the John Williams theme song, but if you’re under a certain age, you may have never seen the film on the big screen.

Box office: As of this writing, August’s Imax re-release of Spielberg’s 1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has earned $1.9M. While the original Jaws was released so long ago as to render box office comparisons meaningless, for what it’s worth, it earned around $260M—which, by some estimates, would make it one of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time when adjusting for ticket price inflation.


Barbarian

Friday, September 9

Premise: 20th Century Studios’ horror film stars Georgina Campbell as Tess, a woman renting an Airbnb, at which Bill Skarsgård’s Keith is also staying. Considering Skarsgård also played Pennywise the clown from It, the highest-grossing horror film of the past decade, you can probably guess scary goings-on are to follow. Writer-director Zach Cregger, who’s previously written and starred in comedy shows, hopes to make a Jordan Peele-style jump with his horror debut. 

Box office: Recent comparable titles include 2021’s Don’t Breathe 2 ($32.6M), Escape Room: Tournament of Champions ($25.3M), and Spiral ($23.2M).

 


Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva

Friday, September 9

Premise: The first in a planned Hindi-language trilogy about the titular Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), who gains the power to withstand fire and can control the (also-titular) weapon called the Brahmāstra. Released under Star Studios, a subsidiary of Disney, the film will also come out in Imax.

Box office: Shiva aims to replicate the success of the two highest-grossing Bollywood titles of the past five years: 2017’s Baahubali 2: The Conclusion ($18.9M) and March’s RRR ($13.8M), 


The Woman King

Friday, September 16

Premise: Sony Pictures has a projected Best Actress nominee on their hands with Viola Davis as the titular Nanisca, based on the real-life women warriors who defended an African kingdom in the 1800s. Davis is no stranger to award season performances, with an Academy Award win for Fences and nominations for DoubtThe Help, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, The Old Guard) directs.

Box office: Other comparable female-led action films starring Academy Award winners include 2017’s Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron ($51.5M), 2018’s Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence ($46.8M), 2018’s Annihilation with Natalie Portman ($32.7M), and 2017’s Kidnap with Halle Berry ($30.7M).


Moonage Daydream

Friday, September 16

Premise: Neon’s Imax documentary centers on David Bowie, the musical legend with two Billboard #1 songs, 1975’s Fame and 1983’s Last Dance. When Rolling Stone magazine released their updated 2021 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, Bowie earned seven: 1977’s Heroes (#23), 1971’s Life on Mars? (#105), 1969’s Space Oddity (#189), 1971’s Changes (#200), 1975’s Young Americans (#204), 1976’s Station to Station (#400), and 1981’s Under Pressure with Queen (#429). Brett Morgen (2017’s documentary Jane about Jane Goodall) directs.

Box office: Though an extremely different music genre, March’s live concert film BTS: Permission to Dance on Stage – Seoul may be a mark to aim for here ($6.8M). Other comparable music documentaries include January’s Peter Jackson The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert ($1.9M) and 2018’s Whitney, about Whitney Houston ($3.0M).


See How They Run

Friday, September 16

Premise: Searchlight Pictures’ historical comedy-mystery stars Sam Rockwell (Academy Award winner for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and nominee for Vice) and Saoirse Ronan (a nominee for Lady Bird, Little Women, Brooklyn, and Atonement) as two police officers investigating the murder of a prominent actor played by Adrien Brody (a winner for The Pianist) in 1950s London. British television director Tom George makes his theatrical film debut.

Box office: Run will aim to reach the box office of other mystery films like February’s Death on the Nile ($45.6M) and 2018’s Searching ($26.0M), or other comedy police detective movies like 2016’s The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe ($36.2M) and 2013’s R.I.P.D. with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges ($33.6M).


Avatar (IMAX 3D re-release)

Friday, September 23

Premise: 2009’s record-breaking Avatar was perhaps the ultimate “must-see in Imax” and “must-see in 3D” film of all time, with its innovative visual effects that won the Academy Award for the category. Ahead of the December 16 release of sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, 20th Century Studios is re-releasing writer-director James Cameron’s original installment in those same formats. As the trailer says, it’s “the way it’s meant to be seen.”

Box office: The original Avatar earned $760.5M, making it the #1 highest-grossing domestic film of all time. (It’s since dropped to #4 behind 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, and 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home; Avatar still holds the #1 spot worldwide) The re-release won’t earn more than a small percentage of that; as previously mentioned, a fall 2010 re-release of Avatar, about nine months following its December 2009 debut, earned $10.7M. 


Don’t Worry Darling

Friday, September 23

Premise: Warner Bros.’ eerie historical psychological thriller follows 1950s married couple Alice and Jack Chambers as they discover their California town’s main employer is not what it seems. The two leads are Florence Pugh (Black Widow and Little Women) and Harry Styles (whose song “As It Was” spent 10 weeks as the Billboard #1 song from April to June), while Chris Pine plays the town leader.

Box office: Though very different in terms of genre, director Olivia Wilde’s only other theatrical feature film, 2019’s high school comedy Booksmart, earned $22.6M. This seems likely to earn more than that; it will be chasing such twisted psychological thrillers as 2016’s The Girl on the Train ($75.3M), 2013’s Prisoners ($61.0M), and 2019’s Parasite ($53.3M).


Bros

Friday, September 30

Premise: Universal’s R-rated Bros is the first major-studio film rom-com with a same-sex lead couple, Bobby Leiber (Billy Eichner) and Aaron (Luke Macfarlane). Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall) directs.

Box office: As mentioned above, this film is the first of its kind, so box office comparisons are few and far between. But possible analogues with gay male character leads include 2009’s Sacha Baron Cohen R-rated comedy Bruno ($60.0M), 2018’s high school dramedy Love, Simon ($40.8M), 2013’s Academy Award winner drama Dallas Buyers Club ($27.2M), and 2017’s indie film Call Me by Your Name ($18.0M). The cultural phenomenon of 2005’s Brokeback Mountain ($83.0M) is likely too high a mark to reach.

Smile

Friday, September 30

Premise: Paramount’s horror stars Sosie Bacon as Rose Cotter, a psychiatrist who appears to see demons possessing people with a signature trademark: they smile before they make their kill. Writer-director Parker Finn, who’s previously helmed several shorts, makes his feature film debut. 

Box office: To the extent this is a gauge for box office potential, comparing the month’s two main horror releases, the official trailer for Smile has more than quadruple the YouTube views as that of Barbarian: as of this writing, 17.0M versus 4.1M.