The most successful horror franchises tend to feature protagonists audiences can root for — heroes that viewers hope will beat the odds and emerge from their respective situations victorious and, well, alive. With that in mind, we here at RT decided to look back at some of cinema’s most stubborn survivors, those characters that somehow managed to avoid being offed in multiple horror movies.
Needless to say, you may want to avoid what follows below if you’re allergic to spoilers. Without further ado, here are our choices for the Horror Movie Survivor Hall of Fame!
Survived: The Alien Franchise
You can’t keep a good woman down. Case in point: Ellen Ripley. Even if she only survived two-and-three-quarters of the first three Alien films, the DNA in her blood cells was enough to create a pretty killer replica (which gives us all hope for future Chuck Norris clones, but we digress).
Ripley could have gone the way of Dr. Frank Poole a whole bunch of times throughout the series. As the only survivor of the Nostromo (not counting Jones the cat), she still could have been torn to shreds when the alien hid on her shuttle. In Aliens, Ripley and a few of her compatriots survived a tough battle with the Alien Queen aboard the Sulaco. Even a universe-saving suicide in Alien 3 barely slows Ripley down — the follow-up isn’t called Alien Resurrection for nothing. How does she do it? Our guess is those decades-long stasis naps do a body good.
Survived: The Evil Dead Franchise
You can possess him with a few demons. You can chop off his hand. Hell, you can even send him back through time. But the one thing you cannot do to Ashley “Ash” Williams: keep him down for good.The same can’t be said of Ash’s friends, who, in the first two Evil Deads offer up a survival rate of exactly zero. Ash is actually supposed to have died in the final frames of The Evil Dead, but the sequel retcons the whole thing, causing him to re-endure a gory getaway in the forest cabin. In the process, he loses his hand, but hey, chainsaw hand as replacement.
In the final Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Ash is sent to 1300 AD. His only way to get back to the present time and his job at S-Mart: Going through a horde of the undead (led by an Ash clone) to retrieve the Necronomicon, the book of the dead. Groovy.
Survived: The Frankenstein Series by Hammer Films
Some folks just don’t know when to quit. You’d think that Baron Victor von Frankenstein would reconsider his diabolical experiments in reanimation after nearly getting his dome lopped off in The Curse of Frankenstein, but no; this guy’s got a one-track mind. Unlike the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley and the Universal movies, our man Vic (played with eyebrow-raised relish by Peter Cushing) doesn’t evolve from hubristic to guilt-ridden — he’s pretty much a murderous mad scientist from minute one. After surviving the guillotine in The Curse of Frankenstein, the Baron continued his artificial life experiments in a bunch of Hammer films (either five or six, depending on whether you count the Cushing-free The Horror of Frankenstein as part of the cannon — many don’t). It’s pretty amazing that Frankenstein can perpetually stay one step ahead of death, given that angry townspeople, public officials, and even his own stitched-up creations are always trying to kill him.
The Friday the 13th series only had two protagonists who would carry themselves into sequels. The first was the original camp survivor who would be unceremoniously offed in Part II‘s opening sequence. The other: Tommy Jarvis. He first appeared in arguably the series’ best installment, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, as a young boy vacationing with his single mother and sister. With a penchant for masks, he and his sister succeed in confusing Jason, before Tommy is taken over by madness and hacks poor ol’ Jason Voorhees to death. The ambigious final shot of The Final Chapter suggests he has taken on an evil spirit.
In the godawful sequel, A New Beginning, Tommy is a taciturn mental patient, drifting in and out of institutions. As copycat murders begin around him, he suspects that his psychosis is taking over under the cover of night. Turns out the killer was just a disgruntled paramedic. In his final appearance, Jason Lives, Tommy attempts to tear Jason’s corpse asunder, but a steel pipe left in his heart attracts a bolt of lightning and Jason is resurrected. Ultimately, Tommy lures him back to the lake and to a watery grave. But we all know how long the dead stay dead in horror movies, don’t we?
It’s no wonder that Laurie Strode takes a breather every couple of Halloween installments; neither sleep nor time nor even a franchise reboot can rid her of Michael Myers. In the original Halloween, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived the babysitting gig from hell, successfully keeping Michael Myers at bay (though he killed a couple of her friends). In Halloween II, she learned why she’d been stalked — it turned out that she was a blood relative of the knife-wielding psycho.
Laurie lay low for the next four Halloweens, but reemerged in Halloween H2O; she had faked her own death and changed her name, but she couldn’t stay hidden from her brother forever. Unfortunately, Myers finally got the best of Laurie in Halloween: Resurrection. Rob Zombie’s 2007 franchise reboot began at the beginning of the Laurie Strode story, with Scout Taylor-Compton stepping into the role; whether this incarnation of Laurie Strode shows the same survival instinct as the first remains to be seen.
Survived: The Halloween Franchise
Most psychology PhDs don’t receive gun training in school, tranquilizer or otherwise. Not sure about cursed zombie entrapment (that could be covered during mandatory intern hours), but Dr. Samuel James Loomis is somehow capable of all these things. At one point in Halloween 4, he agilely escaped death by diving behind some convenient barrels while his unkillable former patient took out a gas tank with a truck, causing a near-fatal explosion.
Dr. Loomis’ constant attempts at shooting Michael Myers really only impeded the guy’s momentum. It only took the first two films for Loomis to realize that bullets just wouldn’t work. At the end of II, he decided to be the martyr and blow both Michael and himself up using a combo of oxygen and ether.
Oh wait… but they both survive — somehow. Maybe Loomis got the explosive recipe wrong. But that’s great because then we got him for four more films! In those films we saw him use Michael’s female prey as bait to lure him into a trap consisting of a metal net, a tranquilizer gun, and his fists. But it was when he used his shrink skills to reason with the monster that we thought, “Oh yeah, that’s what he was trained to do.”
Survived: The Hellraiser Franchise
Puzzle boxes were all the rage in the 1980s. Of course, when Kirsty Cotton played with one, she suffered the consequences: the opening of another realm filled with sado-masochistic Cenobytes led by none other than Pinhead himself. Pinhead’s posse included Butterball, Chatterer, and the Female. After attacks from a deceptive dead-skin-wearing uncle, a group of deal-reneging “explorers” from another realm, and a stepmother hell-bent on devouring her boyfriend, Kirsty even withstood a trip to the Cenobyte realm. In Hellraiser III, she existed only through old interview footage, but she returned in Hellseeker with some gruesome tricks up her sleeve.
Being orphaned could inspire one to focus on new hobbies and interests, like mastering such a puzzle box, incidentally called the “Lament Configuration.” That, and a propensity for turning the tables on your loved ones, could be all you need to survive when confronted by violent unearthly beings that thrive on the pleasures of pain.
How exactly does one defeat a nemesis who manifests himself in the dream world and makes nightmares come true? Nancy Thompson seemed to have figured out the trick, but not before notorious burn victim Freddy Krueger dispatched a good number of her friends and family in gruesome ways.
After Freddy skewered her BFFs and effectively turned her boyfriend into a bloody geyser in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy somehow managed to escape, only to meet her end in Part 3: Dream Warriors. But here’s the kicker: Freddy actually came after the actress who played Nancy, Heather Langenkamp, in Wes Craven’s [very meta] New Nightmare, in which he also terrorized director Craven himself and the man who portrayed him in the movies, Robert Englund. Whoa… And maybe, you might think, a name change would help protect poor Nancy, but Freddy’s too smart for that.
Throughout all the twists and turns of the Saw franchise, one woman emerged as the series’ unlikely hero (seriously, the bad guys got waaay more screen time than the goodies): Jill Tuck, the ex-wife of serial killer Jigsaw. Jill was a rehabilitation clinic director who suffered a miscarriage after an assault from a junkie, prompting Jigsaw’s descent into madness.
Despite the Saw series’ brutally high body count, Jill survived five filmed appearances. After Jigsaw’s death in Saw III, she received a mysterious box via his will. For a while, her role as either protagonist or antagonist was up in the air, making her the most compelling character outside of Jigsaw himself. Then it was revealed her final role in Jigsaw’s twisted blueprint was to “test” his apprentice, crazy corrupt cop Mark Hoffman. Jill almost took him out, but was eventually killed in the final Saw with the infamous reverse bear trap.
Survived: The first four Scary Movie movies
A high-school-student-turned-college-student-turned-anchorwoman-turned-professional-boxer-turned-caregiver, Cindy Campbell knows how to throw down and maybe even snap some necks. Her response to a home-attack by Ghostface? What else? Throw a HOUSE PARTY! That would be the safest thing to do, right? But everyone ended up dead. Go figure. Her Matrix-like aerial fighting skills got her through another night, but could she survive a wedgie in Scary Movie 2? Turns out… she could and did!
This one was handy though. Only Cindy Campbell could MacGyver random objects into a tractor, allowing her to crash through the door of a refrigerator she was locked in. Even a UN nude-ray couldn’t stop this savvy ingénue. At one point, an alien Command tripod ensnared her with Venus flytraps in a grimy old bathroom, and she was instructed to find the key to free herself and her friend Brenda. The key was located behind her eye, but it wasn’t a problem for Cindy. She’s got a glass eye (old bar fight injury).
Cindy has survived a lot. She’s slick and sagacious. But we’re still not sure whether she’s still with us, since she sat out Scary Movie 5.
Survived: The Scream Franchise
Poor Sidney Prescott. She survived an entire franchise dedicated to her demise, and it really all came down to reasons that were far beyond her control. What’s that saying about “the sins of the father” (or, in this case, mother)? Yeah, Sidney sort of represents the epitome of the adage.
Consider this: Sidney’s own boyfriend, Billy, played the long con on her and ultimately tried to off her in the first Scream because Sidney’s mom broke apart his parents’ marriage — yikes. But it got worse: who should come around for revenge in Scream 2 but Billy’s mom herself, understandably upset, along with an accomplice who just wanted to be famous for killing Sidney. Scream 3 saw Sidney terrorized by a half brother she never knew she had, upset about being rejected by their mother, and 4‘s Ghostface Killer turned out to be Sidney’s own cousin, itching to get a taste of Sidney’s fame. Sidney is safe and sound as of now, of course, but you never know; there might be a great granduncle or a step-niece just rarin’ for a go at her.
Survived: The Resident Evil Franchise
At first, it wouldn’t appear that the Umbrella Corporation of the Resident Evil films planned very well for a possible outbreak of their zombifying T-virus. In fact, the soldiers sent to Umbrella’s secret lab in 2002’s Resident Evil spent most of their time simply trying to survive.
But even in the face of this population-decimating epidemic, there was one particular survivor who eventually went on the offensive for the good of all mankind, and her name was Alice. The folks at Umbrella must have spotted her potential, too, because in Apocalypse (2004), they outfitted Alice with some genetic modifications, and in Extinction (2007), they even cloned her in hopes of building a butt-kicking army. She’s survived attacks by all kinds of mutations, speedy, strong, and grotesque, but she hasn’t fallen yet. Alice and Umbrella both know the whole ordeal is Umbrella’s fault, and her quest to bring them to justice continues through to the franchise’s sixth installment, which is scheduled to open next year.
Craig Mazin, whose screenwriting credits include Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, directed Superhero Movie from a script he co-wrote with David Zucker, who co-directed Airplane! and The Naked Gun. The film’s synopsis follows:
After being bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly, high school loser Rick Riker develop superhuman abilities like incredible strength and armored skin. Rick decides to use his new powers for good and becomes a costumed crime fighter known as “The Dragonfly.” However, standing in the way of his destiny is the villainous Lou Landers. After an experiment gone wrong, Lou develops the power to steal a person’s life force and in a dastardly quest for immortality becomes the supervillain, “The Hourglass.” With unimaginable strength, unbelievable speed and deeply uncomfortable tights, will the Dragonfly be able to stop the sands of The Hourglass and save the world? More importantly, will we stop laughing long enough to notice?
Our initial answer to that last question is “yes, probably,” but you know what? As trailers for spoof films go, this one isn’t so bad. Of course, you can never go too far wrong with a scene involving Leslie Nielsen and a nailgun, but still. Watch the clip below!
The Wayans brothers are getting back into the spoofing business.
Variety reports that Keenen Ivory, Shawn, and Marlon Wayans have brought their next project — an untitled “sendup of cop actioners” — to Paramount. Keenen Ivory will direct from a script co-written by all three brothers.
Previous Wayans lampoons have included, of course, the four Scary Movie films, which have raked in over $420 million domestically.
Comedy fans who are hungry for more Wayans will soon be able to tune into their “scripted comedy” series for VH1, The Life and Times of Marcus “Felony” Brown.
For the fourth consecutive weekend, four or more new wide releases will cram into multiplexes trying to get at their piece of a dwindling box office pie.
Nicolas Cage targets his second trip to the top spot this year with the action film "Next," rival actioner "The Condemned" counters with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the lead, horror fans get yet another creepy tale with "The Invisible," and Jamie Kennedy goes for some laughs with "Kickin’ It Old Skool."
Mostly garbage titles were programmed into this weekend’s menu since any studio with a decent film would not risk getting crushed on the second weekend by the webslinger sequel. Including these newest films, the first four months of 2007 boasts 64 wide releases hitting the marketplace, up slightly from last year’s 60 but up sharply from the 42 over the same period in 2005. With a mass quantity of weak April films, look for the North American box office to plunge to its lowest point of the year this weekend during what is essentially the calm before Sandman’s storm hits next Thursday night at midnight.
Following his Marvel Comics hit "Ghost Rider," Nicolas Cage once again plays the action hero card with the sci-fi thriller "Next." The PG-13 film finds the Oscar winner playing a man with the ability to see into the future who is called in to foil a terrorist plot before it happens. Directed by Lee Tamahori ("Die Another Day," "Along Came A Spider"), "Next" has the advantage of having the most screens and the most starpower of any new release this weekend. Plus with current films rotting away quickly (9 of the 16 holdovers in the Top 20 last weekend plunged by more than 55%), competition will not be too fierce. Paramount has been giving "Next" a decent amount of marketing, that is for a film being dumped into the final weekend of a month starting with the letter A. In almost any other time of year this would get clobbered, but given the current alternatives it will make for the only reasonable choice for many moviegoers. Hence, a number one opening by default and quite possibly the weakest one of the year. Crashing into over 2,500 theaters, "Next" could reach the top with around $13M.
"The Condemned" offers a reality show idea not likely to be on any network’s fall schedule. In the weekend’s sole R-rated film, death row inmates duke it out to the death in order to avoid being executed, all while television cameras capture every brutal moment. World Wrestling Entertainment head Vince McMahon produces behind the scenes while former superstar grappler Steve Austin stars in front of the camera. Other WWE stars who headlined recent feature films include Kane in last May’s "See No Evil" ($4.6M debut) and John Cena in last fall’s "The Marine" ($7.1M bow). Both films averaged less than $4,000 on their opening weekends. Young men will make up the only audience segment for the new Lionsgate title and "Next" will provide some direct action competition. Still some hardcore wrestling fans will turn up to theaters since a movie ticket will be cheaper than ordering a pay-per-view event. But overall, prospects seem bleak. "The Condemned" will attack 2,310 theaters and may end up with $6M.
As if moviegoers don’t have enough scary films to choose from, Buena Vista offers up one more with the supernatural thriller "The Invisible." The PG-13 film follows a high school student whose spirit wanders after a brutal accident. Fright flicks have been flopping left and right recently and there is no reason to believe that this one will turn things around. The marketing volume has been stuck on low as this remake of a Swedish pic is more of a spring cleaning film tossed into the marketplace hoping to be forgotten soon. With no starpower, there will be almost nothing driving in traffic. "The Invisible" will appear in over 2,000 theaters this Friday, but might only collect roughly $5M.
Jamie Kennedy headlines the new comedy "Kickin’ It Old Skool" playing a 1980s breakdancer that falls into a coma and awakens two decades later to a much different world. Yari Film Group is targeting teenagers with this PG-13 pic which essentially offers the same laughs as the comedian’s 2003 film "Malibu’s Most Wanted." That modest hit bowed in late April to $12.6M from 2,503 theaters on its way to a $34.4M domestic final. "Skool" does not have a big studio marketing push behind it but it may grab the attention of some young dudes killing time before Peter Parker busts into theaters. DVD is where most people will find this one. Breaking into 1,600 theaters, "Kickin’ It Old Skool" could find itself with around $5M over three days.
Among holdovers, two-time champ "Disturbia" will find it difficult to hold onto its crown given the arrival of Nicolas Cage. But Paramount won’t care as it should still claim the number one film for the fifth consecutive weekend. A 40% decline would give the Shia LaBeouf pic about $8M for the frame and a healthy $51M after 17 days. The Anthony Hopkins–Ryan Gosling thriller "Fracture" has been well-received and competition is not too fierce so a 40% drop could be in order as well. That would leave New Line with $6.5M and a ten-day tally of $21M.
LAST YEAR: Three new flicks topped the charts led by the family comedy "RV" starring Robin Williams which opened at number one with $16.4M. The Sony hit enjoyed stellar legs and went on to collect $71.3M. Universal followed in second with the 9/11 thriller "United 93" which debuted in half as many theaters with $11.5M. The critically acclaimed pic went on to gross $31.5M. Buena Vista’s gymnastics film "Stick It" bowed in third with $10.8M on its way to $26.9M. Rounding out the top five were "Silent Hill" with $9.3M and "Scary Movie 4" with $7.8M. Also opening was the spelling drama "Akeelah and the Bee" with a weak $6M leading to a $18.8M final for Lionsgate and its promotional partner Starbucks.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Another week, another horror film. That’s the mantra in Hollywood at the moment. Among the four new films going into wide release this weekend are Sony’s terror tale "Vacancy" which represents the fourth scary flick in three weeks to hit the multiplexes.
Also debuting are New Line’s murder drama "Fracture," the Warner Bros. romantic drama "In the Land of Women," and the British action comedy "Hot Fuzz" all looking to help moviegoers kill some time as they await the return of the webslinger.
Sony offers a new batch of frights in its latest horror pic "Vacancy" starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple stranded at a dirty motel where occupants are filmed while being brutally killed. The studio is making the right move by selling the R-rated film on concept first, and starpower second. The marketing has been creepy and effective plus the plot is different and appealing. Horror fans are likely to take interest. But moviegoers have been bombarded with scary movies so much in recent weeks that you’d think it was October. Plus the harsh rating will keep out some of the younger teens who may want in on this action. Also a wildcard will be this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech as college students may not be in the mood at this moment for a movie about senseless killings.
Most of the business will depend on marketing and the campaign has been solid. It is very difficult nowadays to set your horror flick apart from all the other ones but "Vacancy" has done it right. Competition from "Disturbia" will be a factor, but older teens and young adults who like a good scare should line up in decent spring-like numbers. "Vacancy" opens in 2,551 theaters on Friday and could pull in around $14M over three days.
Recent Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling plays an assistant district attorney prosecuting a man who murdered his wife, played by Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins, in the new courtroom thriller "Fracture." The New Line release will play to a mature adult audience which puts it in a strong position given all the films targeting teens and young adults at the moment. Both actors are well-respected, however they are not necessarily box office powers. Hopkins has done well when he’s playing a cannibal, but otherwise his track record is spotty when anchoring a film with no other major commercial draws. Reviews have been somewhat positive which could help a tad. "Fracture" debuts in about 2,400 theaters and may collect roughly $12M over the frame.
Warner Bros. goes after the ladies with the weekend’s only PG-13 entry "In the Land of Women." Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Jonathan Kasdan, the romantic drama stars "The O.C."’s Adam Brody along with Meg Ryan and Olympia Dukakis in the story of a young man who learns the complexities of the other sex while caring for his ailing granny. Male appeal will be close to zero. That means that "Disturbia," which is playing very well with teenage girls, will be a major competitor here. Aside from that, there aren’t too many direct threats however the overall marketing push has not been very loud on "Women." Landing in 2,155 theaters, "In the Land of Women" might capture about $8M for the weekend.
The creative team behind 2004’s cult hit "Shaun of the Dead" is back with its take on cop buddy flicks with "Hot Fuzz." The R-rated action comedy finds an overachieving London cop being transferred to a seemingly peaceful countryside village before stumbling upon a series of mysterious killings. Young men will make up the core audience. But through video and cable, "Shaun" has built up a loyal fan following which is likely to give this new entry a try. Add in positive buzz from its blockbuster release in the U.K. earlier this year (it’s already grossed $48M outside of North America) plus glowing reviews from U.S. critics and it is sure to pack a punch in the per-theater average race. Holding it back will be the moderate wide release in 825 locations. In 2004, "Shaun" debuted in 607 sites and grossed $3.3M for a solid $5,487 average. "Hot Fuzz" should be hotter and could arrest about $6M this weekend.
Following its surprisingly potent number one opening, Shia LaBeouf‘s thriller "Disturbia" will face some hefty competition from "Vacancy" which also goes after those seeking a scary flick. A 45% drop could be in order giving the Paramount title around $12M for the frame and a ten-day tally of $39M.
Will Ferrell‘s hit comedy "Blades of Glory" looks set to break through the $100M mark this weekend. A 35% decline would give the Paramount release about $9M for the frame and $102M after 24 days. Disney’s animated film "Meet the Robinsons" has been holding up very well and with another weekend of mostly R-rated new entries, look for another slim dip. The 3D toon might slide by just 25% to roughly $9M boosting the cume to $84M. An invitation to the century club is in the mail.
LAST YEAR: Spooky flick "Silent Hill" topped the charts opening to a strong $20.2M on its way to $47M for Sony. The Weinstein Company’s spoof hit "Scary Movie 4" tumbled 58% in its second weekend to $16.8M for the runnerup spot. Debuting in third was the Michael Douglas actioner "The Sentinel" with $14.4M before finishing with $36.3M for Fox. The studio’s toon sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown" followed with $13.3M in its fourth frame while competing animated entry "The Wild" rounded out the top five with $8.3M. The weekend’s other new release, the Hugh Grant comedy "American Dreamz," bowed poorly in ninth with $3.7M on its way to just $7.2M for Universal.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This weekend Hollywood just doesn’t know its limits. Six new releases will jam into an already crowded marketplace on Friday trying to connect with spring moviegoers.
That makes for a whopping 20 new films over a four-week ultracompetitive period. This weekend’s ticket buyers will not have enough time or money to see them all, especially in a relatively weak playing period like mid-April. Friday the 13th may indeed be a terrifying day for the accountants behind some of these freshman flicks.
Call it "Catwoman" vs. "Hudson Hawk." Sony unleashes its latest star-driven thriller "Perfect Stranger" which finds Halle Berry playing an investigative reporter following an ad mogul (Bruce Willis) who may have killed her friend. The R-rated pic boasts the most star wattage of any new film this weekend and that will mean something at the cash registers. The actor combo is unique, appealing, and diverse enough to bring in two different audiences which is always good for business. Poor reviews probably won’t mean too much to the box office. Sony’s marketing push has been commendable and with Spartans, Ninja Turtles, and figure skaters ruling the charts over the last five weeks, many moviegoers will be ready to shift over to this type of film. "Perfect Stranger" invades 2,661 theaters and stands a chance of hitting number one with around $15M.
Paramount counters with its own thriller this Friday the 13th with "Disturbia." With a more teen-friendly PG-13 rating, the pic tells the tale of a young man under house arrest who suspects that his neighbor is a serial killer. Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, and David Morse make up the cast so clearly the film is not being sold on its starpower. "Perfect Stranger" will provide some healthy competition as those looking for a scare, and are 17 or older, will find Berry and Willis worth paying money for. But young teens that have already skated with Will Ferrell may look here for their weekly escape to the movies. Entering about 2,500 theaters, "Disturbia" could scare up around $10M over the weekend.
Rookie distributor Chicago Releasing drives into theaters with its maiden film "Redline," an action drama about bored rich kids who drag race for fun. The PG-13 film is being aimed at teenage boys and young men with action-packed commercials and trailers full of hot cars and hotter babes. Eddie Griffin is the only major star in this vehicle so only those who really crave another "Fast and the Furious" flick will make it out. But in a weekend when most new films have been slapped with an R, this one could carve out a small audience of teens. Racing into about 2,000 theaters, "Redline" might finish with roughly $7M this weekend.
With all the films thrown into theaters this year, nobody has offered up a handy dandy Viking flick. That changes this weekend with the action-adventure "Pathfinder," an R-rated pic that looks at a young man’s battle against Norse invaders in North America centuries ago. Following the runaway success of "300," it’s no surprise that Fox is marketing "Pathfinder" as a historical war epic based on a graphic novel. But this new film has nothing on Leonidas and pals. The Viking subject matter is not interesting, the marketing push has been weak, and lead actor Karl Urban is no commercial draw. Attacking 1,720 theaters, "Pathfinder" might find only $5M on opening weekend.
Lionsgate goes after an adult audience with its new crime drama "Slow Burn" which stars Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, and Taye Diggs. The R-rated film about a district attorney whose colleague gets tied up in a murder case will go out in a moderate wide release with only a mild marketing push behind it. The starpower is not strong enough to attract a sizable crowd and there is little buzz among movie fans. Opening in 1,163 locations, "Slow Burn" could die a quick death at the multiplexes with a $4M bow.
In a world overstuffed with animated films, First Look Pictures turns the tables and aims at adults with the R-rated toon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters." Based on the animated series on Cartoon Network, the pic is trying to follow in the footsteps of "Borat" by taking a TV property with a cult following and making a long-titled feature film that pushes the envelope. Even the term ‘Movie Film’ seems taken from the Kazakh journalist. "Aqua Teen" scored some extra publicity with its marketing debacle in Boston several weeks ago, however that will not give the film more mainstream appeal. Only the die hard "Aqua" fans are likely to come out here. Competition is stiff this weekend and with the fewest theaters of the six pack of new flicks, this one could get left behind. Landing in over 800 locations, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may collect approximately $4M over three days.
After back to back wins atop the box office charts, "Blades of Glory" will face a fierce challenge this weekend from the new releases. Few have the starpower that the Will Ferrell comedy packs and last weekend’s strong hold suggests that crowds are being pleased. A 35% fall would give "Blades" $14M for the weekend and $89M in 17 days.
"Meet the Robinsons" and "Are We Done Yet?" have no new competition for the family audience so respectable holds are likely here as well. A 35% drop would give the Disney toon about $11M for a 17-day tally of $70M while a 40% decline for the Ice Cube sequel would give Sony around $9M for the sophomore frame and $33M after 12 days.
LAST YEAR Easter weekend saw the arrival of "Scary Movie 4" which commanded a powerful opening grossing $40.2M in its debut. It was the second largest opening in the spoof comedy series and went on to capture $90.7M for The Weinstein Co. The animated blockbuster "Ice Age: The Meltdown" dropped to second place with a still-potent $20M in its third frame followed by the sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" with $9.9M. Disney saw a disappointing debut in fourth with the animated film "The Wild" which took in just $9.7M on its way to $37.4M. "Take the Lead" rounded out the top five with $6.8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
With the arrival of the Oscars comes the stench of the raspberries. The Razzie Awards, of course, which claims to "honor" the very worst of the past year’s films … but really they only focus on three or four turkeys and beat ’em senseless.
Here for your enjoyment are the wonderfully amusing and insightful Razzie Award winners:
Worst Picture: "Basic Instinct 2" — only the Razzie crew calls it "Basically, It Stinks, Too." Cleverrrrr.
Worst Actress: Sharon Stone for "Basic Instinct 2" (and on the press release, they actually re-mention "Basically, It Stinks, Too," as if it’s the pinnacle of wit or something.)
Worst Actor: Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans for "Little Man," which is odd because they’re actually two different actors.
Worst Supporting Actress: Carmen Electra for "Date Movie" and "Scary Movie 4" (The Razzie voters really need to see more movies.)
Worst Supporting Actor: M. Might Shyamalan for "Lady in the Water" (Actually … great pick.)
Worst Director: M. Might Shyamalan for "Lady in the Water" (OK, OK, I can name 50 directors from 2006 that deserved it more than Night did. This is just ‘easy target’ practice at this point.)
Worst Screen Couple: Shawn Wayans and either Kerry Washington or Marlon Wayans in "Little Man" (It’s just getting silly by now.)
Worst Remake or Ripoff: "Little Man" (Yes, for stealing from that old Bugs Bunny cartoon.)
Worst Prequel or Sequel: "Basically, It Stinks, Too" (Sorry, that just never gets old.)
Worst Screenplay: "Basic Instinct 2" (Yawn.)
Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment: "RV" (Yay, I had "RV" in my Razzies office pool.)
So basically they trashed three movies: "Little Man," "Lady in the Water," and "Basic Instinct 2," while movies like "BloodRayne," "Material Girls," "Van Wilder 2" and "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" escape the spotlight. Great.
We’ve been waiting for funny-gal Anna Faris to get a lead role to suit her comedic skills for quite some time now — and I’m not talking about the "Scary Movie" movies. Apparently Ms. Faris was tired of waiting for the perfect concept to come along, so she went to the "Legally Blonde" screenwriters and pitched her new idea. (Hey fellas, she’ll be playing a centerfold!)
From Variety: "Paramount Pictures has picked up an untitled fish-out-of-water project from "Legally Blonde" scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Anna Faris is onboard to topline; Happy Madison is producing.
The project is based on an original idea by Faris that she brought to the writers. She’ll star as a newly unemployed centerfold with no other skills to parlay into a new career. She then takes the only job she can find — house mother at UCLA’s lamest sorority."
So… it’s sort of like a sillier, jigglier version of "Dead Poets Society"?
Are you between the ages of 13 and 19? Do you like … stuff? Then click right here and cast your votes for the 329th annual Teen Choice Awards, which is where you can tell the universe that Puffy is more illing than Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell is funnier than Brad Pitt, and Katie Holmes is cuter than Katey Sagal. Or something.
Click right here for the ballot, but don’t even think of voting if you’re older than 19. The Teen Choice Awards employ a bunch of enforcers who’ll come to your house and check your birth certificate.
I had to lie about my age to check out the nominees (don’t tell anyone), but the TCAs are poised to celebrate some of the following flicks:
Best Action Adventure: "King Kong," "Mission Impossible 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," "Superman Returns," "V for Vendetta," "X-Men: The Last Stand"
They also have a bunch of actor’s categories, but the choices managed to somehow get even sillier. Click here to cast your votes, kids.
Moviegoers grabbed their remote controls and flocked to the multiplexes this weekend to see Adam Sandler‘s latest comedy Click which became the comedian’s eighth number one hit thanks to its $40M opening, according to estimates.
Sony launched the PG-13 film in 3,749 theaters and averaged a healthy $10,670 per location. It was the second best opening of the year for a live-action comedy after the $40.2M bow of Scary Movie 4 in April. With this latest film, the funnyman has become the only actor to score $30M+ openings in each of the last five years proving what a consistent box office draw he continues to be. A-listers like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Jim Carrey cannot claim the same feat.
In Sandler’s latest vehicle, he plays a man who gets a magical remote control that gives him power over all others around him. Frank Coraci, who directed the comedian’s 1998 hits The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy, helmed this latest pic which co-starred Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken, and David Hasselhoff. Sony’s $83M production played to a broad audience. According to studio research, 51% of the crowd was female and 50% were under 25. Sandler has always been a strong draw with young guys, but with his role as a husband and father in Click, the actor was able to appeal evenly across the board to all four quadrants.
Reviews were poor, as expected, but audiences didn’t seem to care. Click is a marketing-driven film and starpower and concept sold it to those looking for some harmless summer laughs. The opening was right in the middle of the $37-43M range that five of Sandler’s previous comedies have debuted in. With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, Click could very well go on to become the star’s seventh $100M blockbuster.
Following its two-week run in the top spot, the animated comedy Cars slipped to second place but displayed solid staying power. The G-rated film eased only 33% to an estimated $22.5M pushing the 17-day total to $155.9M. The decline was smaller than the third-weekend drops experienced by the most recent Disney/Pixar films The Incredibles (47% in November 2004) and Finding Nemo (39% in June 2003). Despite opening weaker, Cars is now holding up better and continues to benefit from word-of-mouth from family audiences. After 17 days of release, Cars is running 12% behind the pace of Incredibles and 19% behind Nemo. Competition for kids from Superman and Pirates in the weeks ahead will be fierce, but the racing toon could still drive to a final domestic haul of over $240M making it bigger than any other film released up to this point in the year.
After a stellar opening, the Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre stumbled 57% and placed third with an estimated $12.1M. Paramount has grossed a solid $52.7M in ten days and is heading for the $70-80M range. Nacho cost $35M to produce.
Tyrese Gibson flexed some muscle with his new actioner Waist Deep which opened impressively in fourth with an estimated $9.5M from just 1,004 theaters. The Focus Features release averaged a sizzling $9,414 per location. Reviews for the kidnapping drama were mostly negative, but audiences responded to the starpower and the action.
Slamming on the brakes, the action sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift suffered the worst decline in the top ten crashing 62% to an estimated $9.2M in its sophomore frame. With $42.6M in its tank, Universal’s $75M franchise pic has been performing exactly like another of the studio’s recent June action sequels – 2004’s Vin Diesel pic The Chronicles of Riddick. That film opened to a similar $24.3M, dropped 61% in the second frame, and generated a ten-day cume of $42.5M before finishing with $57.6M. Tokyo Drift should cross the finish line near the $60M mark as well.
The franchise’s last installment, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, performed in the same way tumbling 63% in its second lap so Drift’s huge drop was expected. Overseas, the latest street racing pic remained at number one in the United Kingdom for a second straight weekend and pushed its international gross to $15.6M from a dozen countries. The studio projected number one openings this weekend in Indonesia, Finland, Portugal, Romania, and Trinidad. Japan, expected to be a big market for Tokyo Drift, does not open until September 18.
The Keanu Reeves–Sandra Bullock romance The Lake House enjoyed a reasonably good second date grossing an estimated $8.3M dropping 39%. After ten days, the Warner Bros. drama has taken in $29.2M and looks headed for the neighborhood of $60M. Lake bowed at number two in the U.K. this weekend with an estimated $1.5M from 343 locations. The film’s international roll-out will be spread out over the coming months.
Holding up well in seventh place was another film targeting adult women, The Break-Up starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. The Universal release grossed an estimated $6.1M, off only 38%, for a $103.7M cume. The unromantic comedy became the seventh film of 2006 to cross the $100M mark. Eight films had joined the century club at this point last year.
Fox’s kidpic sequel Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties dropped just 35% in its second weekend and collected an estimated $4.8M. With a mere $16M in ten days, the PG-rated film looks to reach a disappointing $30M domestically or less than half of the $75.4M of its 2004 predecessor.
The year’s two highest-grossing films rounded out the top ten. Fox’s X-Men: The Last Stand took in an estimated $4.4M, down 44%, pushing its cume to $224.1M. The Da Vinci Code grossed an estimated $4M, off only 24%, giving Sony $205.5M to date. Collectively, the top five summer films have grossed $861.6M trailing last summer’s corresponding blockbusters by 5% at this same point in the season.
Two summer hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. Paramount’s release of the DreamWorks animated film Over the Hedge grabbed an estimated $2.7M this weekend. Off 37%, the PG-rated toon boosted its total to $144.5M and should reach around $152M by the end of its run. Fox’s remake of The Omen has had no legs and tumbled another 63% to an estimated $2.1M this weekend. The $25M film has scared up a solid $52M and looks to end with about $55M.
Paramount Vantage kept expanding its global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which widened from 403 to 514 theaters this weekend and grossed an estimated $1.9M. Averaging a decent $3,762 per site, the Al Gore pic has upped its sum to $9.5M and counting. Further expansions are planned for the coming weeks.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Tom Cruise‘s spy sequel Mission: Impossible III remained the most popular film in North America for the second straight weekend while the big-budget disaster film Poseidon opened in second place to disappointing results.
The frame’s other new releases, the Lindsay Lohan comedy Just My Luck and the soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins, opened miserably as well giving the industry little to celebrate. Overall ticket sales fell behind those of the comparable weekend in each of the last four years as a sluggish marketplace waits for that one true summer blockbuster that draws the masses into the multiplexes.
Despite a weaker-than-expected opening weekend, Paramount’s MI3 enjoyed a respectable sophomore frame dropping 49% to an estimated $24.5M to retain its standing as the number one film. Playing in an ultrawide 4,059 theaters, the Ethan Hunt actioner averaged a solid $6,039 per location and raised its ten-day total to $84.6M. The decline was very similar to the 48% second weekend fall for last summer’s big spy flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith which grossed $26M in its sophomore shot after a $50.3M bow. The Pitt-Jolie vehicle, however, captured a more muscular $96.7M in its first ten days thanks in part to a June release when more students were out of school.
With so many action sequels tumbling by 55% or more on the second weekend, Mission: Impossible III managed to hold up relatively well. Competition from Poseidon was not formidable so moviegoers were not drawn away to another big event pic. The latest Ethan Hunt film will face its true test this Friday when the much-anticipated thriller The Da Vinci Code starring that other Tom opens followed a week later by the mutant juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand. At its current pace, look for MI3 to reach $130-140M domestically making it the lowest grossing installment of the decade-old franchise. The first Mission: Impossible grossed $181M in 1996 while MI2 took in $215.4M in 2000. Overseas, MI3 jumped to $129.2M in foreign sales putting the worldwide tally at $213.8M in under two weeks. The global box office gross looks to be on a trajectory to hit $350M.
Failing to sink Cruise’s ship, the ocean liner disaster pic Poseidon settled for the runner-up spot this weekend opening with an estimated $20.3M from 3,555 locations. Warner Bros. generated a decent but not impressive per-theater average of $5,717 with its first pricey entry of the summer movie season. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One), the PG-13 film was a remake of the 1972 picture The Poseidon Adventure and starred Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, and Richard Dreyfuss as passengers on a luxury ship who must fight to survive after a rogue wave capsizes the vessel. Poseidon opened weaker than other big-budget maritime action films like 2003’s Master and Commander ($25.1M), 2000’s The Perfect Storm ($41.3M), and even 1995’s infamous Waterworld ($21.2M).
Although audiences in years past have flocked to May disaster films like Twister, Deep Impact, and The Day After Tomorrow, this time Poseidon lacked the goods to draw in a paying audience. Reviews were not kind which also made the adult-skewing picture a tough sell. Varying reports on the film’s budget put the production cost in excess of $160M so a stellar run internationally and on DVD will be needed in order to turn a profit. Poseidon set sail in a handful of Asian countries to the tune of $4.4M this weekend, but will open in most foreign territories in June and July.
Once again scoring the best hold among all wide releases was the Robin Williams family comedy RV which dipped a mere 14% in its third weekend to an estimated $9.5M. The Sony hit has collected a solid $42.8M in 17 days.
Ticket buyers ignored Lindsay Lohan’s new film Just My Luck which flopped in its opening weekend grossing a mere $5.5M, according to estimates. The Fox release averaged an unlucky $2,165 per location and played almost exclusively to a teen girl audience. Studio research showed that the crowd for Luck was a remarkably high 80% female and 70% under the age of 25. Critics, not surprisingly, panned the film.
Horror flick An American Haunting enjoyed a solid sophomore session dropping only 36% to an estimated $3.7M for fifth place. Distributed by Freestyle Releasing, the PG-13 thriller has banked $10.9M in ten days and should scare its way to a mediocre $17-19M. Universal’s 9/11 thriller United 93 followed with an estimated $3.6M, down just 33%, lifting the cume to a decent $25.6M.
The teen gymnastics pic Stick It dropped 41% to an estimated $3.2M to land in the number seven spot with a total to date of $22.2M for Buena Vista. Fox’s animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown, still the top-grossing film of 2006, grossed an estimated $3M sliding just 29% in its seventh weekend. No other film has spent as many weeks in the top ten this year. Cume stands at $187.4M domestically and over $600M worldwide.
Sony’s fright pic Silent Hill placed ninth with an estimated $2.2M, off 45%, for a sum of $44.5M thus far. The New Line flop Hoot fell 37% to an estimated $2.1M in its second outing as the total inched up to a dismal $6.2M. Last weekend, the owl film had the distinction of suffering the worst opening in history for a film debuting in over 3,000 theaters. Hoot’s puny $3.4M bow in 3,018 sites beat out the dismal $6M launch from 3,006 theaters of 2004’s New York Minute starring the Olsen Twins for that unfortunate honor.
Another film failing to connect with kids was Buena Vista’s new soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins which kicked off its run with a weak estimate of only $2M. The PG-rated film failed to qualify for the top ten this weekend and averaged a poor $1,989 from 1,007 locations.
Two April releases fell from the top ten this weekend. The spoof comedy Scary Movie 4 dropped 44% to an estimated $2.1M in its fifth frame. With $86.6M to date, The Weinstein Co. release looks to finish with roughly $90M which would not be far off from the $110M of its predecessor 2003’s Scary Movie 3. The Lionsgate family drama Akeelah and the Bee declined 41% to an estimated $2M in only its third turn. Cume sits at just $13.6M and should reach $16-18M.
Opening in limited release this weekend, Miramax’s family reunion comedy Keeping Up with the Steins grossed an estimated $621,000 from 138 locations for a respectable $4,500 average. The PG-13 film stars Garry Marshall, Jeremy Piven, and Daryl Hannah. The Swaziland-set drama Wah-Wah debuted in 25 theaters and grossed an estimated $57,000 for a mild $2,270 average. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson, the R-rated film is distributed by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Among indie films expanding into more markets, Sony Classics grossed an estimated $1.2M from its comedy Art School Confidential after widening from 12 to 762 theaters across the country. That left the John Malkovich–Anjelica Huston starrer with a pitiful $1,593 average per venue as it failed to register with moviegoers on a national level. Cume is $1.4M. Fox Searchlight expanded its Indian drama Water from 36 to 62 locations and grossed an estimated $257,000 for a $4,138 average. Total sits at $593,000 with more markets opening on Friday.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $77.7M which was down 15% from last year when Monster-in-Law opened at number one with $23.1M; and down 23% from 2004 when Troy debuted in the top spot with $46.9M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com
Tom Cruise climbed into his usual number one spot at the box office with his heavily-hyped spy sequel Mission: Impossible III, however ticket sales fell below most industry expectations as the debut was not spectacular.
The weekend’s other new releases, the horror flick An American Haunting and the kid drama Hoot, both generated lukewarm openings. But thanks to a weak early May in 2005, the overall marketplace still beat out last year for the seventh consecutive frame.
Paramount claimed the top spot with MI3 which invaded a staggering 4,054 theaters collecting an estimated $48M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The third installment in the decade-old franchise averaged a potent $11,846 per venue. But Tom Cruise’s box office muscles were expected to lift the tally much higher given all the factors that were working in the $150M film’s favor. The newest Mission pic obviously had plenty of starpower but with its early May bow, it had virtually no competition in the multiplexes to deal with. Plus the studio’s marketing hype was deafening, the pic opened in the second highest number of theaters in history for a live-action film (behind Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152), and even the reviews were mostly favorable. That was a welcome bonus as critics are rarely kind to big-budget action sequels.
According to studio research, MI3 connected with the same audience that the previous two did. Men made up 56% of the crowd and 64% were age 25 or older. Joining Cruise in the PG-13 film’s cast were Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Openings for other high-profile action films debuting on the first weekend of May include $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $51.7M for 2004’s Van Helsing. MI3 didn’t even reach the level of Van Helsing. In fact, its opening gross was even weaker than that of Mission: Impossible 2 which launched over Memorial Day weekend six years ago with $57.8M over three days, $70.8M over four days, and $91.8M over its six-day Wednesday-to-Monday span. Even with higher ticket prices, a Friday bow, and hundreds of more theaters, MI3 still failed to reach the heights of MI2. Adjusting for inflation, MI3’s opening was the weakest among the Ethan Hunt flicks. The first Mission bowed to $74.9M over its six-day holiday frame in May 1996 including $45.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.
Instead, the new J.J. Abrams-directed IMF saga opened in the same neighborhood as other recent star-driven spy films like last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M), 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5M), and 2002’s James Bond film Die Another Day ($47.1M). Although opening near the $50M mark over three days is an impressive feat, Cruise’s new film was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in recent memory. The highly-paid star/producer attended premieres all around the world, popped up on major talk shows and magazine covers, and press coverage, not surprisingly, was non-stop.
Industry watchers must now wonder – was there too much marketing? Were audiences sick and tired of hearing and seeing Tom Cruise everywhere? Did they really want to spend money seeing even more of him? Media-saavy moviegoers voted with their dollars and those who seemed to have had enough chose to stay away. The MI3 hype machine brought back memories of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from three years ago. That action sequel also arrived in theaters on a disturbingly loud wave of promotion revolving around its flamboyant stars and Demi Moore‘s relationship with Ashton Kutcher which was constantly covered on the airwaves. Despite the pricey marketing investment, Throttle debuted weaker than expected with $37.6M and crumbled 63% in its sophomore frame.
Paramount was pleased with the international results for Mission: Impossible III as the actioner took in an estimated $70M over the weekend opening in almost all major markets around the world except for Japan. The spy sequel blanketed the globe with roughly 9,500 theaters in 55 markets putting its worldwide opening weekend tally at $118M. The ratio between sales outside and within North America remained the same as with previous Mission pics. The 1996 original grossed 61% of its $465M global tally overseas while MI2 took in 60% of its $538M internationally. This weekend, 60% of MI3’s dollars came from abroad.
With no major competition for the family audience, the Robin Williams comedy RV enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 32% to an estimated $11.1M. The Sony release dropped one notch following its top spot bow and has grossed a solid $31M to date. In just ten days, RV has already become the second biggest live-action grosser for Williams in the past seven years after the $67.4M of 2002’s Insomnia. Look for the $50M road trip flick to end its journey in the neighborhood of $60M.
Opening in third place was the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which scared up an estimated $6.4M in ticket sales in its first three days. The PG-13 film averaged a decent $3,825 from 1,668 theaters. Reviews were mostly negative for the Donald Sutherland–Sissy Spacek starrer about a possessed young woman in the 1800s. Distributor Freestyle Releasing’s weekend estimate included an unusually low Saturday-to-Sunday decline of less than 5%. Final grosses released on Monday could see the figure come down.
The gymnastics comedy Stick It tumbled 49% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.5M giving Buena Vista $18M in ten days. Look for the teen pic to reach $27-29M which is commendable for its genre. After a solid takeoff last weekend, the 9/11 hijack thriller United 93 declined a substantial 55% in its sophomore frame and grossed an estimated $5.2M. After ten days, Universal’s $15M pic has collected $20.1M and should find its way to roughly $30M domestically.
Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown dropped 45% to an estimated $4M in its sixth frame to boost its cume to $183.3M. Crumbling 58% in its third spook was Sony’s fright flick Silent Hill which grossed an estimated $3.9M lifting the cume to $40.8M.
The spoof sequel Scary Movie 4 fell 52% to an estimated $3.8M and brought its total to $83.7M. The Starbucks-promoted kid drama Akeelah and the Bee enjoyed a respectable second weekend hold dropping 43% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release has still only grossed $10.7M and seems likely to finish close to $20M.
Opening to dismal results with an estimated $3.4M from 3,018 theaters was the kid drama Hoot from New Line. The PG-rated story of a group of boys who set out to save endangered owls averaged a pitiful $1,127 per location. Fans of the best-selling book apparently avoided the film adaptation and critics for the most part were unimpressed.
A handful of films opened in limited release to mixed results. Warner Independent debuted the Chinese epic The Promise in 213 theaters but grossed only $271,000 according to estimates for a poor $1,272 average. The Golden Globe-nominated adventure was China’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and is reportedly that country’s most expensive film ever made. U.S. critics were not very pleased.
Sony Classics bowed its indie comedy Art School Confidential which grossed an estimated $142,000 from a dozen sites in New York and Los Angeles averaging a strong $11,833 per site. The Terry Zwigoff-directed film expands to nearly 800 theaters in most major markets on Friday. ThinkFilm debuted its Edward Norton starrer Down in the Valley to an estimated $26,000 from three New York houses for a solid $8,770 average. The film widens to three more cities on Friday before gradually expanding throughout May.
Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight expanded its widow drama Water from five to 36 theaters and grossed an estimated $188,000 for a $5,222 average. The ten-day total stands at $270,000 and this Friday the Deepa Mehta film will widen to about 60 sites. The distributor’s indie sensation Thank You for Smoking collected an estimated $1.1M, off 40%, for a $20M cume.
Three April releases were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. The Michael Douglas political thriller The Sentinel took a big hit from MI3 and crashed 62% to an estimated $3M putting its 17-day cume at $30.9M. Fox should find its way to about $36M. Disney’s underperforming toon The Wild slumped 46% to an estimated $2.6M. With only $32M in the bank, the animated film looks to conclude with $36-38M. Sony, on the other hand, has generated solid numbers for its sports comedy The Benchwarmers which grossed an estimated $2M this weekend. Down 54%, the Rob Schneider–David Spade film has taken in $55.6M thus far and is set to end with just under $60M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.7M which was up a healthy 24% from last year when Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $19.6M; but off 4% from 2004 when Van Helsing debuted in the top spot with $51.7M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com
Proving that farcical family vacations are more enticing than gymnastics, spelling bees, and historical plane crashes, Sony’s "RV" landed atop the weekend box office tally by grossing an estimated $16.4 million from over 3,600 theaters. Because nothing says "box office hit" like a good septic tank gag.
Debuting in second place (and 1,800 theaters) was Universal’s lauded and controversial "United 93," which managed about $11.6 million in its opening frame, while Disney’s gymnastics flick "Stick It" was a close third, grossing approximately $11.2 million from just over 2,000 theaters.
Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of horror-related hangers-on: Sony’s "Silent Hill" added another $9.3 million to its $34.2 million total, and Dimension’s "Scary Movie 4" yanked another $7.8 million out of moviegoers’ pockets, giving it a grand total of $78.1 million.
Lionsgate’s "Akeelah and the Bee" debuted to relatively meager numbers by pulling in only $6.2 million from 2,200 theaters.
The summer movie officially kicks off next weekend with the arrival of Paramount’s "Mission: Impossible III," New Line’s family flick "Hoot," and Freestyle’s fact-based chiller "An American Haunting."
For a closer peek at the weekend numbers, click on over to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.