Archive for the ‘My Bloody Valentine 3-D’ Category

Friday Estimates: Are Vampires Any Kind Of Match For Paul Blart?

January 24, 2009

The box office has come back down to Earth after last weekend’s record-breaking frame. Based on Friday estimates, there will be a battle for the top spot between newcomer Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and the unexpected smash hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The weekend’s other newcomer, Inkheart, didn’t fare so well, though.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans opened to a Friday gross of $7.8 million, which represents a 26% decline from Underworld: Evolution‘s opening day gross of $10.6 million. The Kate Beckinsale-less film appears to have been hurt by her absence, and it should take in about $19-20 million over the weekend, which may be good enough for the number one spot. (This opening underlines how much of a phenomenon fellow vampire film Twilight really was. Rise Of The Lycans‘ opening weekend won’t even equal Twilight‘s opening day.)

The Brendan Fraser adventure film Inkheart wasn’t quite so fortunate, pulling in only a meager $2.4 million. This is a pretty terrible result, and Inkheart will join the ranks of The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising ($9 M), Pathfinder ($10 M), and City Of Ember ($11 M) as yet another fantasy-adventure film that audiences simply weren’t interested in. Give Inkheart a sad $7 million weekend. I guess this is what happens when you try to make a movie that tells the youth of 2009 to read more books…

Among holdovers, Paul Blart: Mall Cop pulled in $5.5 million on Friday (a 44% drop), which should lead the breakout comedy to a $18-19 million dollar weekend, which may be enough to top the charts for a second week in a row. Gran Torino continues to truck along, pulling in $4.3 million yesterday, which should give it a $14 million weekend. My Bloody Valentine: 3D fell 62% from last Friday to $3 million, and it should find about $9 million over the frame. Notorious utterly plummeted over the first day of this weekend, falling 70% to $2.3 million, which will give it $7-8 million over all. Hotel For Dogs, meanwhile, fell about 40% to $2.4 million, which should be good for a solid $10 million weekend.

The Oscar bait expansions performed pretty much in line with predictions. Slumdog Millionaire found a nice $2.7 million. Revolutionary Road grabbed $1.7 million. And audiences showed a general disinterest for Frost/Nixon, which found just $910,000. Here are the full Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates For January 23, 2009
1. Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans – $7.8 million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $5.5 million
3. Gran Torino – $4.3 million
4. My Bloody Valentine: 3D – $3 million
5. Slumdog Millionaire – $2.7 million
6. Inkheart – $2.4 million
7. Hotel For Dogs – $2.4 million
8. Notorious – $2.3 million
9. Bride Wars – $2 million
10. Revolutionary Road – $1.7 million
11. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $1.6 million
12. Defiance – $1.5 million
13. The Unborn – $1.4 million
18. Frost/Nixon – $910,000

Welcome To The Era Of Easy Entertainment!

January 20, 2009

We’re in the middle of a huge economic recession, millions of people are out of work, the news is consistently depressing, the earth is apparently so polluted that a Wall-Eish future seems likely, we’re still fighting what seems to be a never-ending battle in the Middle East, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop just earned $39 million over four days in theaters. What is going on in the world, and why are all these terrible things happening at once? To be honest, I can’t really tell you anything about those first five- you’d have to ask a Washington insider about those. But when it comes to the issue of Paul Blart: Mall Cop raking in huge profits, let me offer up this explanation: In light of the economic, political, and social struggles that currently permeate our society, we have reached a new stage of culture: The Era of Easy Entertainment (EEE), where popular entertainment has become valued more as a distraction than an artform.

You see, it seems to me that in these tough times, the last thing people want in their lives is any more stress. And yes, if you’re wondering, there is a such thing as stressful entertainment. Over the last few years, movies centered on war have completely stalled at the box office. Even high profile releases like The Good German ($1.3 million), Flyboys ($13 M), The Great Raid ($10 M), and Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M) have had trouble finding an audience. The best performing war-themed picture was 2005’s Jarhead ($62 M), but even that failed to live up to expectations. Still, if these films were to be released right now, I predict that they would do even worse at the box office than they did in their original theatrical runs. Why? Because people are tired of bad news! People are tired of war and fighting and not knowing what is going to happen next! And now, as the economic foundation of the country starts to crack, people are eager for something consistent and comforting. Where have they turned? To easy entertainment.

With exception of Nothing Like The Holidays ($7 M), every single comedy that has been released in the last two months has been a solid hit. Role Models earned $67 million. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa earned $178 million. Four Christmases earned $120 million. Bolt earned $113 million. Yes Man earned $93 million. Marley And Me has earned $134 million. Bedtime Stories has earned $105 million. Bride Wars has earned $40 million. And Paul Blart: Mall Cop opened to $39 million! The average T-Meter on RottenTomatoes for these films is 39%, so it’s not like these are just the best films out there right now. Yea some of them are great, and others are truly awful, but I think it’s more that right now, people just truly want to laugh and smile. Think about all the people who lined up in droves to go see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Don’t you think they knew that it wasn’t going to be a magnificently memorable work of art? What they did know was that it would be safe enough and fun enough to provide them with a pleasant distraction from the reality of life, if only for a couple hours.

But this trend isn’t just limited to film. Look at the general trends of television viewing this season. The sitcom, which many pronounced as “dead” a few years ago, is now back in full force. Shows like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock have seen massive 35-45% increases in their viewership this season, despite network television ratings being universally down. And it’s not just comedy that makes up the EEE. No, some entertainment is just “easy,” like television’s number one new show, The Mentalist. The show does absolutely nothing to break the mold of a typical CBS procedural crime drama. It follows a very predictable formula each and every episode, and audiences aren’t complaining. In fact, because it requires so little thinking, and the mystery is always wrapped up by the end of each episode, it’s pulling in almost 19 million viewers every week. Shows like Lost or 24 should be glad they launched when they did, because they would never break out in 2009- they just require too much thinking, too much stress!

There’s no telling how long EEE will last. It is the reason that films like The Unborn and My Bloody Valentine: 3D have done so well lately. These are horror flicks, yes, but they are also proedictable and fun. It is the reason dogs are the hottest thing in Hollywood now. They don’t need to be able to act or speak- they’re cute and make people feel good. So long as people are worried about our failing economy, horror films and comedies and movies that advertise the fact that they are fun, will continue to thrive. Already, the box office is having an incredibly lucrative winter season because people have made it very clear that right now they don’t need a ton of drama- they want some simple comfort instead.

Weekend Fix: 4-Day Weekend With Monday MLK Day Numbers

January 19, 2009

Here are the 4-day totals for the January 16-19 weekend. With a great variety of choices for American audiences, Martin Luther King Weekend proved to be one of the most lucrative weekends in the history of the box office, as the top eight films each grossed at least $10 million over the 4-day frame. You can read the full analysis of the 3-day weekend here.

Top 12 For January 16-19
# Movie Title 4-Day Gross 3-Day % Change 4-Day
AVG.
Total
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $38,000,000 $12,086 $38,000,000
2 Gran Torino $26,000,000 – 24.6% $8,748 $77,000,000
3 My Bloody Valentine 3D $24,240,000 $9,565 $24,240,000
4 Notorious $24,000,000 $14,652 $24,000,000
5 Hotel for Dogs $22,500,000 $6,878 $22,500,000
6 Bride Wars $14,025,000 – 44.2% $4,344 $39,852,125
7 The Unborn $10,992,940 – 50.3% $4,660 $34,232,095
8 Defiance $10,700,000 +13401% $5,980 $11,041,000
9 Marley & Me $7,450,000 – 44.5% $2,523 $133,859,283
10 Slumdog Millionaire $7,150,000 + 56.0% $12,285 $43,987,205
11 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $6,603,000 – 39.2% $2,970 $103,628,000
12 Bedtime Stories $6,084,000 – 44.9% $2,323 $104,989,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

Weekend Fix: At The Box Office, Dogs May Be The New Penguins, But Fat Guys Are The New Will Smiths!

January 18, 2009

What a crazy world we live in! Even before we’ve gotten to the Monday of MLK weekend, the 3-day frame was one of the 10 biggest weekends in the history of the box office! The Top 12 films grossed a fantastic $170 million, increasing a whopping 29% over last year! This is shocking for January, but really cool! There’s so much to talk about! Here’s my rundown of each film:

Paul Blart: Mall Cop – Sony – $33.8 million – $10,751 per theater average
Fat Man #1. This opening is the second highest January opening of all time, behind 2008’s Cloverfield ($40 M). Maybe after Kevin James starred with Will Smith in 2005’s Hitch, and with Adam Sandler in 2007’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, he’s garnered some of their box office drawing power, because this debut is just huge, and it still has MLK day tomorrow to rake in the big bucks! Mark this off as a huge success for both James as a leading actor and Sandler as a producer. Paul Blart: Mall Cop was benefited by its strong advertising campaign, and the relatively low comedic expectations of moviegoers. (Though I will confess that I sounded a bit pretentious in my Weekend Preview.) In these recessionary times, it looks like no one wants to think too hard when they go to the movies. Welcome to The Era Of Easy Entertainment! (EEE)

Gran Torino – Warner Brothers – $22.2 million – $7,481 PTA

Clint Eastwood continues to draw in audiences, who have really found a strong connection to the film. Due to the holiday on Monday, the film saw a very soft 24% decline, and with a $73 million total and a great venue average after two weekends in wide release, Gran Torino is headed for at least $130 million. A much needed return to profitability for the director, after Flags Of Our Fathers ($33 M), Letters From Iwo Jima ($13 M), and Changeling ($35 M).

My Bloody Valentine: 3D – Lionsgate – $21.9 million – $8,642 PTA
Shame on you, Supernatural fans! According to my calculations, there are still about 1.5 million of you who did not go see your beloved Jensen Ackles this weekend on the big screen! I thought you were the most dedicated fans of any TV show, like, EVER. Still, enough of you came out for the 3D slasher flick to have a pretty solid opening of $21.9 million, further proving that horror is back on the map and in perfectly good shape. Come 2010, audiences will probably be tired of it again, so studios, cash in while you can! MBV:3D has already revealed some of its frontloadedness, since its Friday numbers were higher than Saturday’s, but I expect that this will have slightly better legs than most other horror films, due to its good reviews.

Notorious – Fox Searchlight – $21.5 million – $13,126 PTA
Fat Man #2. This is truly the surprise of the weekend! Admittedly, I’m a former prep school kid from southern Virginia, who grew up more in the time of Eminem than B.I.G., so maybe I’m a bit out of touch with the hip hop legend’s drawing power, but I think even Fox Searchlight has to be unbelievably surprised with how well Notorious performed. It’s sizzling venue average is nothing short of amazing, and although it only played in 1,638 theaters, audiences turned out in huge crowds to see the biopic. Like most other films marketed to urban audiences, though, this one will be a victim of frontloadedness. Even with the holiday weekend effect, Notorious still came up with an internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.55, which is pretty low, so I’m expecting this to fall pretty quickly. Not that that matters, though! Notorious has already made its mark, and I’m sure it’s already covered its production budget, so it’s all gravy at this point. I bet somewhere, a Tupac movie just got the greenlight…

Hotel For Dogs – Paramount – $17.7 million – $5,413 PTA
This is the fourth successful dog release in the last four months. In October there was Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($94 M). In November there was Bolt ($105 M). And in December there was Marley And Me ($132 M so far). Emma Roberts has redeemed herself after the lackluster performance of last year’s Nancy Drew ($22 M), and even with a lower venue average, Hotel For Dogs will probably go further than both Notorious and My Bloody Valentine: 3D, due to its family friendly nature. But let me talk for just a second about dogs. I’m going to be honest: I’m a little put off by the rise of dogs in society lately. I mean, they’re cute and fluffy, and I love them as pets as much as anyone else, but I think that people are starting to think that dogs are humans. Between the rising numbers of clothing stores for canines, the onslaught of ASPCA commercials, the intensity of the anti-fur movement, their sudden box office viability, and the constant talks of “animal rights,” and I just have to wonder whether people realize that we are, in fact, people, and dogs are, in fact, animals. Call me once every human in the world has rights. Then, I’ll start to worry about whether the dogs do. Rant over.

Bride Wars – Fox – $11.8 million – $3,640 PTA
I still don’t feel like talking about this film, but I’ve got it to give it credit for its good box office run thus far. It’s the girl version of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and it’s probably headed for a $60-65 million finish. Like I said, welcome to EEE!

The Unborn – Universal – $9.8 million – $4,175
I know it was aided by the holiday weekend effect, but a 50% drop is pretty good for a horror film in its second weekend opening against another frightfest. With $33 million so far, this is a huge victory for Universal, who solidly advertised the film. You know, I’m seeing a trend here, Hollywood: If you believe in the films you put out and advertise them effectively, they do well at the box office! Weird, huh?

Defiance – Paramount Vantage – $9.2 million – $5,146
Okay, I’m saying it now. Outside of the Bond franchise, Daniel Craig is box office poison. The whole release kind of confuses me, actually. I heard almost nothing about this film, which cost a hefty $60 million, and after two weeks in very limited release, it failed to light up with moviegoers. Add in lackluster reviews, and you have a true misfire.

Slumdog Millionaire – Fox Searchlight – $5.9 million – $10,137 PTA
Seeing that my second-favorite film of 2008 just had an incredible 56% increase on the heels of its Golden Globes win erases any of the malice I was feeling towards Paul Blart and Bride Wars. There is hope for audiences yet! It really is quite amazing that in its tenth week of release, Slumdog Millionaire still has a per theater average of $10,137, the second highest in the Top 12. If this gets the Oscar for Best Picture (and it’s looking more and more like it will), we could be looking at a $100 million earner here!

The Rest Of ‘Em
You don’t really need to hear me talk about Marley And Me, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, and Bedtime Stories anymore, do you? It’s hard to believe that they came out just 25 days ago, because I feel like Ive been talking about them for forever! Suffice it to say, they were all solid performers of the Christmas season that kicked off what could be a historic winter at the box office. The full 3-day weekend numbers are below:

Top 12 For January 16-18
# Movie Title 3-Day Gross % Change AVG. Total
1 Paul Blart: Mall Cop $33,800,000 New $10,751 $33,800,000
2 Gran Torino $22,235,000 – 24.6% $7,481 $73,232,000
3 My Bloody Valentine 3D $21,900,000 New $8,642 $21,900,000
4 Notorious $21,500,000 New $13,126 $21,500,000
5 Hotel for Dogs $17,707,000 New $5,413 $17,707,000
6 Bride Wars $11,750,000 – 44.2% $3,640 $37,577,125
7 The Unborn $9,848,825 – 50.3% $4,175 $33,087,980
8 Defiance $9,206,000 +13401% $5,146 $9,547,000
9 Marley & Me $6,325,000 – 44.5% $2,143 $132,734,283
10 Slumdog Millionaire $5,900,000 + 56.0% $10,137 $42,737,205
11 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button $5,599,000 – 39.2% $2,519 $102,624,000
12 Bedtime Stories $4,848,000 – 44.9% $1,851 $103,753,000
All Numbers Provided By Exhibitor Relations Co.

For the record, at the end of the day, I’m okay with Paul Blart: Mall Cop being on top of the charts. It isn’t going to kill me, and hey, I might even chuckle once or twice if I watched it. You know, my little sister, who’s six years old, loves slapstick comedy. She’s as sweet as a peach, but if I stub my toe or poke my eye or trip and fall, the girl can not contain her laughter! So who am I to say that Blart isn’t comedy?! It’s not comedy that I necessarily want to see, but I’m not about to totally discount the collective consciousness. Now let’s hear what you think about the weekend!

Friday Estimates: Really, America? Paul Blart?

January 17, 2009

What on Earth is going on with the box office lately? I feel like a navigator on a ship, who has used the stars to guide and direct him on his journeys for his whole life, only for the stars to just up and switch places, without warning. I mean, how else do you explain the inexplicably gigantic debuts of the top two films this weekend? Did anyone see this strong of a debut coming for Paul Blart: Mall Cop? And who thought that Notorious would open to these kinds of numbers? Box office gods, I surrender!

The number one film on Friday was Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which earned a disturbingly great $9.5 million on its first day. The Sandler-produced slapstick comedy starring Kevin James attraced droves of young males, who were apparently not scared away by the awful reviews. It’s like the male version of Bride Wars… Its looking at a possible 3-day gross of $27 million, with $32 million over the full MLK weekend. Maybe there’s just no use being bitter, though. You know what they say: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” I might actually go see this! Actually nevermind, I’d definitely rather be bitter.

As impressive as Blart‘s performance is, though, Notorious is undoubtedly the strongest debut of the weekend. Out in just 1,637 theaters, Notorious found $9 million on its first day, and it will have the strongest per theater average this weekend. Producer Sean “P Diddy” Combs has to be thrilled with this result right now, and I’m sure he’s already in the process of somehow pitching MTV a new reality show based on the success of this film. (Making The Band 5: Making The Movie!) The film chronicling the life of rap superstar, the Notorious B.I.G., will probably be a bit frontloaded, so a $25 million total over the 3-day seems right, with a stunning $30 million over four.

At least My Bloody Valentine: 3D and Hotel For Dogs were acting somewhat normal yesterday. The 3D horror flick took in a good $7.5 million, which should translate into a frontloaded $20 million weekend, with $24 million overall. Hotel For Dogs grabbed a solid $4.7 million on Friday, but its grosses should pump up over Saturday and Sunday. Totals of $18 million over the 3-day, and $22 million over the 4-day are probably in store for the kiddie comedy.

Other than the straight-out-of-left-field debuts of Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Notorious, things should pretty much match up with my predictions, which makes me feel a little less inadequate. But, hey- I’m not complaining! You know, it’s just one crazy weekend of box office after another, and I’m loving the ride! Here are the full Friday estimates:

Top 12 Friday Estimates for January 16th
1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $9.5 million
2. Notorious – $9 million
3. My Bloody Valentine 3D – $7.5 million
4. Gran Torino – $6.5 million
5. Hotel For Dogs – $4.7 million
6. Bride Wars – $3.5 million
7. Defiance – $2.9 million
8. Marley & Me – $2.3 million
9. The Unborn – $2.2 million
10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – $1.7 million
11. Bedtime Stories – $1.6 million
12. Slumdog Millionaire – $1.3 million

Weekend Preview: Can My Bloody Valentine: 3-D Win The 4-Day?

January 15, 2009

Though January has traditionally been a month where studios dump their very worst pictures of the year, it looks like times may be a’changin’. This year, during the Martin Luther King 4-day weekend, we have four new wide releases and two major expansions that don’t all look awful! As far as new films go, entering theaters this weekend is the horror film My Bloody Valentine: 3D, the kiddie flick Hotel For Dogs, the biopic Notorious, and the Sandler-produced comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Definace and Last Chance Harvey are each launching into 1,000+ theaters. Contrary to past Januaries, the respective studios seem to be very confident in these releases, and the advertising has been surprisingly strong. Gran Torino is still a force to be reckoned with, though, and it could stay on top for a second weekend. All in all, the variety of choices at the theater along with the extended weekend should provide the box office with some depth and lead to a solid weekend of receipts.

The number one film this weekend should be My Bloody Valentine: 3D. The strong debut of The Unborn last weekend confirmed a renewed interest in the horror genre, and Valentine has the 3D gimmick working in its favor as well. Lanuching on a record 1,033 3D screens, this savvy move by Lionsgate not only creates novelty and interest, but it pumps up ticket prices in these venues, which will lead to a higher total gross. There has been tons of advertising for this one, and it’s kind of nice to see a film that’s not hiding from it’s “R” rating. The ads sell violence, terror, sex, gore, lots of 3D action shots, and most of all, FUN! You see, the problem with the way so many films are marketed, is that the studio forgets to tell people that they will have fun if they go see the film. My Bloody Valentine: 3D has not forgotten this point, and with some surprisingly great reviews and a legion of Supernatural fans eagerly awaiting Jensen Ackles on the big screen, the horror movie should scare up a strong $23 million from 2,534 venues over the three day period.

The only other opener that could have a chance to take the top spot is Paramount’s Hotel For Dogs, a film that proves difficult to predict. On the one hand, it’s a movie about dogs, and between Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($94 million) and Marley And Me ($126 million so far), dogs are totally the new penguins at the box office. Also, it’s got the widest release of any film this week, checking in to 3,271 theaters, and the sheer accessibility will help it’s total. Advertising has been solid for Hotel for Dogs, and there aren’t any other new films vying for the family market. While all these things are positives for the film, we must not forget that Marley And Me opened huge just four weeks ago, and I have to wonder if audiences are ready for another dog movie so soon afterwards. Maybe they are, and Hotel For Dogs will garner its own massive opening, but I don’t think this is the most likely outcome. Still, the reviews are good enough, and parents and kids know Emma Roberts from her popular Nickelodeon show Unfabulous. When all is said and done, I think this could leash a pretty good $20 million, but $5 million more or less wouldn’t surprise me.

Notorious, a film chronicling the life and untimely death of rap legend Notorious B.I.G., opens into 1,637 theaters this weekend, and it should find a fair degree of success. Biggie’s iconic status in the rap community will absolutely help this Fox Searchlight effort, produced by Sean “P Diddy” Combs. Films marketed to an urban audience are often quite successful, and given that this is MLK weekend, Notorious should be able to capture success similar to the racially themed basketball film Glory Road, which opened to $13 million in 2006. For the 3-day weekend, Notorious might grab about $12.5 million.

The final new release of the weekend is Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a film that excites me about as much as Bride Wars. Ugh. This is a film from Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison, which has brought us such classics as Grandma’s Boy and The Benchwarmers. There’s been almost a shocking amount of promotion for this, and while I love Kevin James, I truly hope audiences can spot this as the stinker that it is. Reviews are, not suprisingly, bad. You know, I’ve learned over the years that it is a bad idea to mix my own personal feelings with box office prediction, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Even if it’s opening in a huge 3,144 theaters, I still see Paul Blart: Mall Cop coming in with just $10 million. (UPDATE: okay, okay- I see that I’m too much on my high horse. I think the commercials I have seen just really suck. I’ll bump my prediction up to $12 million instead.)

Last Chance Harvey and Defiance both have major expansions this weekend, moving into 1,054 and 1,789 theaters, respectively. Neither of these films has been blowing up in limited release, but Defiance, which stars Daniel Craig, has certainly has more promotion behind it. Still, with a $60 million pricetag, it won’t make back its budget in theaters, and it will probably earn about $7.5 million this weekend. Last Chance Harvey, the quirky comedy starring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman, has achieved a little bit of awards attention, but it will probably only earn about $3 million over the weekend.

Among holdovers, drops should be soft, as Sunday numbers will be stronger than usual, due to the holiday on Monday. Gran Torino is not going to go down quietly. The Clint Eastwood film has struck a chord with audiences, and it’s looking at another weekend of solid bank, and a possible second weekend at number one. For the 3-day weekend, a 27% drop should give it $21 million. Wedding “comedy” Bride Wars should also see a small drop, earning about $13 million. Finally The Unborn, which opened well last week, will erode quickly for two reasons. First, that’s just the nature of the horror genre, and second, My Bloody Valentine: 3D is coming out. A 65% plunge will give it $7 million for the weekend. Here the full weekend predictions:

Predicted Top 12 for January 16-18

1. My Bloody Valentine: 3-D – $23 million
2. Gran Torino – $21 million
3. Hotel For Dogs – $20 million
4. Bride Wars – $13 million
5. Notorious – $12.5 million
6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop – $12 million
7. Defiance – $7.5 million
8. The Unborn – $7 million
9. Marley And Me – $7 million
10. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $6 million
11. Slumdog Millionaire – $5 million
12. Bedtime Stories – $5 million

Do I have this right, or am I way off? What do you predict these movies will make?

The Beginning Of The Year Is Scary: A Decade Of Horror Movies At The Box Office

January 7, 2009

Go grab your flashlight, blanket, and stuffed animal. We’ve reached the doldrums of winter, and on the box office calendar, that means its time for our annual onslaught of horror films. What was once merely regarded as a tough time to release a movie, has in recent years become a veritable dumping ground for studios to release cheaply produced horror films. If people were afraid to the officially label the trend before, there’s simply no denying it in 2009. In the next six weekends, five horror films are coming out. On the docket we have The Unborn, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans, The Uninvited, and Friday The 13th.

We all know that Hollywood never makes bad decisions, so if all these films are being released in the next few weeks, it must be a well documented fact that horror titles in January and February make lots of money, right? To answer that, let’s look at January/February horror releases over the last decade of box office history. Here’s the horrific box office retrospective:

2000
Feb. 4 – Scream 3 – $84 million
Feb. 18 – Pitch Black – $39 million

2001
Feb. 2 – Valentine – $20 million
Feb. 16 – Hannibal – $165 million

2002
Jan. 25 – The Mothman Prophecies – $35 million
Feb. 22 – Queen Of The Damned – $30 million

2003
Jan. 24 – Darkness Falls – $32 million
Jan. 31 – Final Destination 2 – $47 million

2004
Interestingly enough, none.

2005
Jan. 7 – White Noise – $56 million
Jan. 28 – Hide And Seek – $51 million
Feb. 4 – Boogeyman – $46 million

2006
Jan. 6 – Hostel – $47 million
Jan. 20 – Underworld: Evolution – $62 million
Feb. 3 – When A Stranger Calls – $47 million
Feb. 10 – Final Destination 3 – $54 million

2007
Jan. 12 – Primeval – $10 million
Jan. 19 – The Hitcher – $16 million
Feb. 2 – The Messengers – $35 million
Feb. 9 – Hannibal Rising – $27 million

2008
Jan. 4 – One Missed Call – $27 million
Feb. 1 – The Eye – $31 million

2009
Jan. 9 – The Unborn
Jan. 16 – My Bloody Valentine 3-D
Jan. 23 – Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
Jan. 30 – The Uninvited
Feb. 13 – Friday The 13th (Gimmicky? Yes. But The Omen did make $12 million on 06/06/06…)

There are a couple of trends that I see in these figures. First off, movie titles are getting worse. According to current horror movie titles, if I really wanted to scare you, I should have just named this entry “The Blog Post.” Second, the horror pattern doesn’t really start until 2005. Until the successful debut of White Noise, the early weeks of January seemed off limits to a studio with a horror film. They stuck mostly with family-friendly affair, instead. Third, people were very tired of horror in 2007 and 2008. After years of Japanese remakes and torture-porn flicks, the genre felt stale. Fourth, these movies suck!

Sometimes I wonder why Hollywood is so obsessed with establishing patterns. If 300 can open to $70 million on a random weekend in March, a Hannah Montana concert can earn $30 million over three days in February, and Cloverfield can debut to $40 million in January, doesn’t that do anything to prove that people will go see what they want to see, regardless of its release date? I don’t know why studios feel the need to pigeonhole bad horror movies into these first two months of the year. By consistently releasing sub-par, only-somewhat-scary movies in January and February, Hollywood is conditioning film goers to stay at home. At a certain point, people wise up to the lack of quality. It took them a while with the “____ Movie” movies, and according to the above results, the horror genre is now seeing similar diminishing returns in January and February.

The reason that studios haven’t minded settling with the smallish figures is that these movies are ridiculously cheap to make. They usually make up their small production budgets by the end of their theatrical runs, and it’s pretty much the DVD revenue that earns the studio money. But, oh you foolish movie executives- you could make so much more!

How can the problem be fixed? Start by getting someone to make a really good horror movie, and/or do something truly innovative. Then, release that film whenever you want. It really doesn’t matter. Actually, at this point, it’s probably a little bit better to not release it in January, because people are starting to realize how bad January horror movies usually are. Bottom line: If the movie is good n’ scary and has a solid advertising campaign behind it, people will go see it. (Ex: The Ring)

As far as the 2009 films go, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans has a small legion of fanboys, Friday The 13th‘s release date plan will probably generate some business, and both films will get a boost since they are part of franchises. As far as the rest of the films go, they’ve all had surprisingly strong advertising campaigns, but 3-D is becoming kind of cliche, and The Uninvited‘s psycho woman plot isn’t as flashy as The Unborn‘s evil dead twin story. Because it’s coming out before the horror glut, I’m giving the slight edge to The Unborn, but I don’t really see any of them breaking out. If they fail, I blame the scheduling completely.

Here’s a good comment question: If you were to combine the RottenTomatoes T-Meter for all five of the horror films debuting in the next two months, what do you predict the total score would be? Will they collectively break 100%? Let me know what you think.