Archive for the ‘The Unborn’ Category

Weekend Fix: Gran Torino, Bride Wars, And The Unborn All Have Strong Openings

January 11, 2009

What a great weekend at the box office! Amidst reports of peaking unemployment, retail failures, and recessionary woes, the box office continues to shine throughout this winter season. It appears that people are eager to escape from all the depressing news bogging them down by taking a good ‘ole trip to the movie theater. The Top 12 movies grossed a cumulative $129 million, an increase of 22% over last year. While many of the holdovers got hit harder than expected, the three robust debuts of Gran Torino, Bride Wars, and The Unborn set a promising tone for the rest of 2009.

The number one film this weekend is Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, which earned a fantastic $29 million, after expanding into 2,808 theaters. I believe that this debut will be considered massively important, as it marks another milestone in the ever continual internationalization of cinema. Truly, I can’t remember another film with a large Asian cast to have such audience support. Of course Clint Eastwood was the main draw here, but it’s still a promising sign for the industry. The debut gave the Warner Brothers Oscar bait a per theater average of $10,337, the best in the Top 12. Let me take a moment to break down how great of a venue average that is: Last weekend Gran Torino was playing in 84 theaters and had a per theater average of $33,571, which means that while the theater count increased 3,300% , the per theater average only fell 69%, which is pretty incredible. After five weekends in theaters, Gran Torino has amassed $40 million, and with awards season kicking into high gear, I’m thinking that this shouldn’t have any trouble making it to $100 million in the near future.

Let’s talk about this next film as little as possible. I’ll try to sum it all up in one sentence and then move on to something worth talking about. Fox’s Bride Wars debuted in second place with $21.5 million, which gave it a pretty good (but not surprisingly Satanic) venue average of $6,665. Why, Anne Hathaway? Why?!

The Unborn came in thrid place, with a stronger opening than anyone was expecting. The Universal horror flick scared up a solid $21 million, effectively marking that the 2006-2007 horror slump is over. The recognition here really belongs to Universal’s marketing department, who put together genuinely creepy trailers and television ads that gave people a good of the story (A long-lost, evil, unborn twin is coming to terrorize his sister). I’m usually not a fan of horror movies, but even I wasn’t unexcited for The Unborn. Whereas a movie like Seven Pounds opened poorly because people had no idea what it was about, The Unborn showed that the opposite was true, and I’m thinking that The Uninvited will reap similar benefits later this month. The film had a great $8,950 venue average, but any hope for longevity is pretty doubtful. First, there is the simpe reality that horror releases are notoriously front-loaded, and on top of that, there is a new horror title coming out for the next three weekends. It doesn’t really matter, though, because these movies are so cheap to produce. The Unborn will be pretty fortunate to make it to $50 million, before selling well on DVD.

Wait a second, is it Christmas Weekend all over again? The four Christmas Day releases fill up the next four spots on the chart, albeit with much lower numbers and some fairly steep drops. Provided with fresh titles on the scene, audiences forgot about the old films. Fox took away some of its own audience with Bride Wars, and consequently, the Jennifer Aniston starrer, Marley And Me, dropped 53% to $11.3 million, and has earned $123 million overall. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button fell 49% to $9.4 million for the weekend, and a $94 million cume. Perhaps poor word-of-mouth has spread, because Bedtime Stories fell a harsh 58% to $8.5 million, giving it $97 million total. The Brad Pitt and Adam Sandler features will each surpass $100 million in the next week. Tom Cruise’s comback movie, Valkyrie declined 53% to $6.6 million, and has found a solid $71 million overall.

The Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man fell 56% this weekend to $6 million. After its dispappointing $18 million opening, Warner Brothers’ Yes Man has been leggier than anyone would have guessed, and it has now earned a total of $89 million, which represents an impressive 5.0 multiplier.

In ninth place, we have Not Easily Broken, a marital drama from Sony released in just 724 theaters. Proving that melodrama is a genre that does have some life in it, Not Easily Broken earned $5.6 million, which gave the film a good $7,735 per theater average. While this result is a nice surprise for the weekend, it pales in comparison to the kind of numbers that Tyler Perry can pull in for a similar movie. He truly does have the golden touch.

Moving down a notch to another overly dramatic film, the Will Smith snoozefest Seven Pounds dropped 61% to $3.9 million over the weekend frame. With $66 million in the bank after four weekends, the ultra serious Sony drama will go down as one of the few missteps in Smith’s otherwise impeccable career.

Future Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire (that is, if Wall-E isn’t nominated) dropped just 20% to $3.7 million this weekend for a $34 million total. It’s still pulling in a solid $6,206 venue average, but Fox Searchlight needs to pump up the advertising and the theater count, because there is certainly lots of life left in this vibrant title, especially as it rakes in the awards.

Down in 12th place is Twilight, the teenage vampire movie from way back in November that can’t be stopped. Perhaps it’s just riding on the news of star Taylor Lautner returning for the sequel, but the Summit Entertainment feature fell just 40% to $2.8 million, and it has grossed a stunning $181 million over eight weekends. Here are the full weekend results:

Top 12 for January 9-11 2009

# Movie Title 3-Day Gross
% Change AVG. Total
1 Gran Torino $29,025,000 888% $10,337 $40,065,000
2 Bride Wars $21,500,000 $6,665 $21,500,000
3 The Unborn $21,095,150 $8,950 $21,095,150
4 Marley And Me $11,350,000 -53% $3,263 $123,710,171
5 The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button $9,450,000 -49% $3,247 $94,330,000
6 Bedtime Stories $8,550,000 -58% $2,435 $97,180,000
7 Valkyrie $6,662,000 -53% $2,347 $71,509,383
8 Yes Man $6,155,000 -56% $2,083 $89,411,000
9 Not Easily Broken $5,600,000 $7,735 $5,600,000
10 Seven Pounds $3,900,000 -61% $1,588 $66,830,000
11 Slumdog Millionaire $3,730,000 -20% $6,206 $34,074,855
12 Twilight $2,789,000
-40% $1,902 $181,395,000
All Numbers Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.
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Friday Estimates: GRAND Torino At The Box Office

January 10, 2009

I’ve just got to be real with you- I way underestimated the box office of the premiering films, and I overestimated the holdovers. Things just took a rather unexpected turn this weekend, but don’t worry, I’m not about to sit here and dwell on it. After all, pretty much everyone got it wrong!

This weekend proved to be a pretty big draw for American audiences, as all three openers debuted to pretty good results. Gran Torino, after launching into wide release in its fifth week, earned an estimated $9.8 million on Friday, which is fantastic. The NFL playoffs should detract from its overall multiplier a little bit, but it’s still headed for around $29 million for the weekend. Much to my dismay, Bride Wars also opened well with $8 million on Friday. It should make it to around $24 million for the weekend. I don’t want to talk about it. The Unborn also managed an $8 million Friday, and because it will be front-loaded, I’m seeing an $18 million weekend. Still, that’s a fairly good debut, which means that audiences may be ready for horror movies again after two years of disappointing receipts. Give it a month before people are tired of these movies again… The only other new film hitting the charts was Not Easily Broken, a small film playing in just 724 theaters. It opened in 7th place, $2 million on Friday. Look for a $6 million weekend.

With the new options shining so brightly, there were some very large drops among returning features. Among holdovers, Marley And Me is looking at $10 million for the weekend, Benjamin Button should find $9 million, and Bedtime Stories $8 million. Here’s the Top Ten Friday Estimates:

Friday Estimates for January 9th
1. Gran Torino – $9.8 million
2. Bride Wars – $8 million
3. The Unborn – $8 million
4. Marley And Me – $3 million
5. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $2.7 million
6. Bedtime Stories – $2.1 million
7. Not Easily Broken – $2 millino
8. Valkyrie – $1.9 million
9. Yes Man – $1.9 million
10. Seven Pounds – $1.1 million

Weekend Preview: Sorry Clint Eastwood, Bride Wars And The NFL Are BFF’s

January 9, 2009

January has historically been a rather bipolar month at movie theaters. On the one hand, studios often dump some of their very worst films in January, and this month’s releases are pretty much awful more often than not. On the other hand, however, January is also the time when studios will expand their quality, smaller titles, hoping to capitalize on the positive effects of awards season and build enough buzz to garner the ever elusive Oscar nomination. The second weekend of 2009 follows this tried-and-true formula to a tee: There are two new wide releases, Bride Wars and The Unborn, which are getting absolutely obliterated by critics, and then Clint Eastwood’s buzzy Gran Torino, which is launching into wide release after four weekends in a limited count.

I truly hate that I’m writing this, but the top spot this weekend could go to Bride Wars, the utterly derivative wedding comedy from Fox. Okay, Kate Hudson’s choice of role has always been rather questionable, but how Anne Hathaway ended up in this dreck is beyond me. I’m sorry to sound so cynical, but I can’t be the only person who is so over Hollywood’s love of stereotypical bridezilla comedy. The movie follows two lifelong friends, whose weddings are suddenly scheduled on the same day. When they find this out, they launch a war to take down the opposing bride, completely forgetting that they are best friends. Obviously, these are well-developed, three-dimensional characters who actually act like real human beings, and it sounds hilarious, right? Wrong. Unfortunately for all mankind, Bride Wars does actually have a good amount going for it. Last year, 27 Dresses, another wedding-centered film targeting women, opened to $23 million, which bodes rather well for Bride Wars. Also helping will be the fact that the NFL playoffs are this month. While millions of men are glued to the TV screen, millions of disinterested wives will go to the movies, and Bride Wars has made it clear that it is a cinematic destination for women only. I have to give Fox a little bit of credit for wisely counter programming. Advertising has been very strong, but I think that its box office will be limited to a small extent by its horrendous reviews. I only say “to a small extent” because when movies are exclusively targeting women, females seem to settle for some truly bad entertainment. Men do it too. So do Christians. I don’t quite understand it. Anyway, the comedy is out in 3,226 theaters, and I’ll give it the narrow victory this weekend, with a $19 million opening.

Completely switching gears, Warner Brothers’ Oscar bait, Gran Torino, is expanding from 84 to 2,808 theaters, and it will be duking it out with Bride Wars for the top spot. The Clint Eastwood-directed drama is targeting older males, pretty much the exact opposite audience of its main competition, and though the NFL playoffs will help Bride Wars, they should have a negative effect on Gran Torino‘s performance. Still, the venue averages for Gran Torino have been amazing solid, up in the $20-30,000 range these past few weeks. While these numbers will come down to earth over the next few days, they tell us that Gran Torino should still start off pretty well in wide release. The racial drama’s good reviews and word-of-mouth will certainly help it as well. I’m predicting an $18 million weekend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up coming out on top.

The final new wide release of the weekend is The Unborn, a typical January horror release. It’s funny- this is a film that is probably just as bad as Bride Wars, but I just don’t seem to mind. I feel like horror is never really that good, and if I consistently expect nothing, I’ll always be delighted! In truth, poor reviews don’t matter much for the Universal fright-fest. Teens will be the main audience for The Unborn, and they are pretty much review-proof. This should play out like almost every other horror title: Teens will rush out the theater this weekend to watch it, and then it will plummet in its second weekend, and then it will earn some dough on DVD. The Unborn will definitely benefit from being the first of four horror movies this January, and the ads have actually been pretty scary, so I think this one should do alright. Playing in 2,356 theaters, it should earn $14 million.

Among holdovers, there should be some pretty standard (for January) 30-40% drops. Former top dog Marley And Me will stick by its constant companions, Bedtime Stories and The Curious Case Of Benajmin Button. The films might garner similar weekend totals of $13.5 million, $13 million, and $12 million, respectively. Bedtime will cross the $100 million milestone, and Button will be only a few million dollars behind. Here are my full Top 12 predictions:

Predicted Top 12 for January 9-11
1. Bride Wars – $19 million
2. Gran Torino – $18 million
3. The Unborn – $14 million
4. Marley And Me – $13.5 million
5. Bedtime Stories – $13 million
6. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – $12 million
7. Yes Man – $8.5 million
8. Valkyrie – $8 million
9. Seven Pounds – $6 million
10. Slumdog Millionaire – $3.9 million
11. The Tale Of Despereaux – $3.8 million
12. Doubt – $3.6 million

Also, if you guys use Digg, Delicious, Furl, StumbleUpon, etc., I’d really appreciate a tag! We’re a small little group of Box Office Junkies around here, so let’s invite a few more people to the party!

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.