Box-Office Preview: 'Steve Jobs' Takes on Ghosts, Vin Diesel, Singing Teenagers and 'Goosebumps'

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Michael Fassbender in 'Steve Jobs'

It's going to be quite a battle at the pre-Halloween box office as Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs biopic expands nationwide opposite new offerings 'Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimenson,' Vin Diesel's 'The Last Witch Hunter,' 'Jem and the Holograms' and Bill Murray's 'Rock the Kasbah.'

The October crush at the North American box office continues this weekend, led by Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs expanding nationwide in a key test for the critically acclaimed movie.

Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender as the legendary Apple co-founder, has a shot at toppling family holdover Goosebumps and claiming the weekend crown with a debut in the mid-teens or higher. However, the marquee is incredibly crowded as Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter, Jem and the Holograms and Bill Murray's Rock the Kasbah also open.

Two weekends ago, Steve Jobs scored the top location average of the year to date when opening in New York and Los Angeles. And last weekend, the $30 million Universal film did solid business when upping its theater count to a total of 60 locations. Through Monday, Steve Jobs has earned $2.3 million domestically.

From an adapted script by Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs also stars Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. In recent days, a number of people who knew Jobs have criticized the movie, although Sorkin has insisted it isn't a traditional biopic, but rather an impressionistic rendering. In 2010, Sorkin also came under criticism from some quarters for his depiction of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

In terms of other films written by Sorkin, Moneyball opened to $19.5 million in late September 2011, while The Social Network debuted to $22.4 million. Both of those movie opened nationwide, however, versus beginning in a platform run.

The Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension are also wild cards.

From Lionsgate, Witch Hunter hopes to debut in the mid- to high-teens, thanks to keen interest from males. The supernatural action film stars Diesel as an immortal witch hunter who must stop a plague from destroying New York City. Witch Hunter, hoping to launch a new franchise, cost at least $70 million to produce.

Paramount's Ghost Dimension is only going out in 1,600 theaters, compared to nearly 3,000 locations for the last Paranormal Activity film. Many cinema owners are refusing to play the film because of an innovative deal between Paramount, AMC and Canada's Cineplex to make it available in homes earlier than usual. A week ago, it looked like fewer than 1,400 locations were going to play Ghost Dimension; as of Wednesday, 1,600 were signed on.

Because of its reduced footprint, Ghost Dimension could score the lowest debut of any title in the popular microbudgeted horror franchise, or $10 million-$12 million, even though tracking shows there's more interest in seeing the movie than Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which opened to $18.3 million from 2,867 theaters in January of this year.

Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions will have a busy weekend, between Ghost Dimension and Universal's Jem and the Holograms, a musical-fantasy directed by John M. Chu and based on the 1980s Hasbro animated television series. Targeting young females, the live-action title is only looking to debut in the $5 million-$7 million range. The studio's financial exposure is limited, since Jem cost $5 million to produce.

Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Ryan Guzman, Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis star in the musical-adventure about a group of teenage girls obsessed with becoming famous singers. Producers are Chu, Blum, Scooter Braun for SB Projects and Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis for Hasbro Studios.

Rock the Kasbah is also looking at a modest opening in the same range as Jem. Kasbah, which has been largely skewered by critics, stars Murray as Richie Lanz, a rock manager past his prime who accompanies a performer (Zooey Deschanel) on a USO tour in war-ridden Afghanistan. When she bails, he comes across a young singer (Leem Lubany) who could be the biggest discovery of his career, and arranges for her to appear on Afghan Star, the equivalent of American Idol.

Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson and Danny McBride round out the cast of Rock the Kasbah, which Open Road Films is handling in the U.S.

The specialty box office remains busy, between holdovers including Room and Truth, and new entry Suffragette, a period drama starring Carey Mulligan and directed by Sarah Gavron.

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