We here at RT went deep into the vault of horror franchises to tally up the victims of some of film and TV’s most deadly psycho killers. Take a peek at the results — if you dare!
Haunting Grounds: Bates Motel
Estimated Body Count: 20
Has there ever been a cinematic slasher more pitiable than Norman Bates? The poor guy is practically at war with himself, and his mom nags him from beyond the grave. Heck, every time he makes friends, they seem to end up dead. If Psycho exerted a profound influence on the slasher genre (and onscreen violence in general), it wasn’t because Norman was a particularly prolific killer. Alfred Hitchcock’s original (and the sequels) depicted a man in the clutches of inner torment and madness that was so gripping and scary that it didn’t need buckets of blood (or, in one memorable case, chocolate syrup) to be deeply unsettling. Nine deaths are attributed to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) on the five-season AMC prequel TV series Bates Motel. But, really, who can say for sure?
Haunting Grounds: The Jeepers Creepers series
Estimated Body Count: 20
When Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer wrote “Jeepers Creepers” in the late 1930s, they surely never guessed their snappy little pop ditty would go on to provide the theme song for a murderous winged creature who possesses a bee- and dog-like ability to smell fear, and who can regenerate body parts by ingesting those of his victims. And that’s not all — the Creeper can also overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews, too! Although critics kept 2001’s Jeepers Creepers from a Fresh certification, the Creeper was back just two years later with a sequel, and there was even talk of a third installment. Not bad for a bad guy who’s limited to a single 23-day feeding frenzy every 23 years, right?
Haunting Grounds: The Thing from Another World, The Thing, The Thing
Estimated Body Count: 20
Human beings have long wondered what otherworldy monstrosities might be lurking out in the far reaches of space, which helps to explain the enduring appeal of John W. Campbell’s 1938 short story, Who Goes There? It’s the tale of an Antarctic research team that unwittingly rescues a malevolent alien from an icy grave. The creature repays the favor by forcibly (and messily) assimilating every living being within reach, including 20 unlucky scientists and a handful of dogs. Campbell’s monster — referred to as the Thing — has provided rich fodder for filmmakers over the decades, inspiring 1951’s The Thing from Another World, John Carpenter’s 1982 cult classic The Thing, and, most recently, the 2011 prequel/reboot of the same name.
Haunting Grounds: The Jaws series
Estimated Body Count: ~21, if you count the whale in Jaws 2
Most of the slashers on our list are bona fide film icons, but few of them can boast of having changed the entire industry the way Peter Benchley’s great white shark did: Before Jaws‘ 1975 debut, studios actually held their big films out of the summer market, believing the vacation months to be a commercial graveyard. Almost $500 million (and lots of bloody ocean water) later, a franchise was born — and although the third and fourth installments aren’t good for much besides unintentional humor, the original remains a certified classic with a 98 percent Tomatometer rating. Granted, the kill count here takes into consideration the havoc wreaked by multiple great whites over the course of the franchise, but it merely illustrates what Benchley already knew: the ocean is scary enough even without a gigantic bloodthirsty shark chasing you around, so tossing one in the mix just ups the ante.
Haunting Grounds: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series
Estimated Body Count: 30
The twisted true-life tale of grave robber Ed Gein has inspired many notable cinematic grotesques, from Norman Bates in Psycho to Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. However, Tobe Hooper may have done the most to immortalize Gein in the annals of perverse pop culture by emphasizing his habit of making clothing out of human flesh. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre introduced Leatherface, a developmentally disabled fellow under the control of his cannibalistic family. Though he started out as a pretty timid guy who was as afraid of visitors as they were of him, Leatherface came out of his shell in the sequels and reboots, making up for lost time in liberally employing his Poulan 306A.
Haunting Grounds: The Hellraiser series
Estimated Body Count: 35
By the late 1980s, the slasher genre was starting to feel a little stale — and then along came Pinhead, the sadomasochistic leader of the extradimensional pack of hooligans known as the Cenobites. The spike-headed hook fetishist wasn’t featured heavily in 1987’s Hellraiser, but Pinhead’s combination of creepy appearance, selective taste for victims, and clear fondness for gruesome torture stole the movie; throughout the eight-film series (four of which were released straight to DVD), Pinhead has remained the only constant, and for good reason: although his body count may be relatively low, no one else can match his prowess with a sharp, well-placed hook.
Haunting Grounds: The Child’s Play series
Estimated Body Count: ~38
Chucky may have devolved into a pint-sized Tony Clifton at this point, but the original Child’s Play was a superior genre piece — creepy, suspenseful, and blessed with an insidious sense of humor. Child’s Play riffed on the idea of innocence gone horribly wrong, with a quasi-Cabbage Patch Kid embodied by a vicious serial killer thanks to a voodoo ritual. Subsequent sequels — the most recent of which, Curse of Chucky, just recently made its way onto home video — have delivered more camp than scares, but Chucky’s left a trail of more than 35 corpses in his wake — and probably didn’t enamor himself to Teddy Ruxpin.
Haunting Grounds: The Nightmare on Elm Street series
Estimated Body Count: ~39
Arguably the most recognizable movie monster of the 1980s, Freddy Krueger may not be able to compete with other horror icons when it comes to killing in bulk. But the dermatologically-challenged Elm Street resident certainly wins points for style; in addition to his expert use of claw-tipped leather gloves, Freddy is adept at shape-shifting, strangulation, and generating geysers of blood from the bodies of future heartthrobs. Even accounting for the various forms Freddy has taken over the years in his efforts to turn the sweetest dreams dark and bloody, we’ve got his kill count somewhere in the vicinity of 39. That might be fewer than one might expect, but Mr. Krueger is an artiste who chooses his victims very specifically.
Haunting Grounds: The Final Destination series
Estimated Body Count: 39
Remember the old margarine commercials that said you can’t fool Mother Nature? Well, according to the Final Destination series, you can’t cheat Fate, either. It’s often said that revenge is a dish best served cold — but for the unseen hand of Fate, it tastes even better when garnished with a series of incredibly brutal (and, it must be said, very morbidly entertaining) booby traps. The series’ unseen antagonist has dispatched 39 victims, using everything from the mundane (death by falling brick) to the cleverly rewind-worthy (shower cord strangulation, ladder through the eye, death by falling cherry picker). By the time we surpassed The Final Destination and got Final Destination 5, the series was clearly aware of its silly appeal, and each creatively choreographed death was equally as hilarious as it was cringeworthy.
Haunting Grounds: The Scream franchise, Scream (TV series)
Estimated Body Count: 49
One of the rare slasher antagonists who’s a killer by committee, the Scream series’ Ghostface is played by a revolving door of mask-donning, knife-wielding psychopaths. Their motives are different (peer pressure, revenge, etc.), but the results are the same, no matter who wears the Edward Munch-inspired getup: teenagers will turn up dead, following the conventions of horror movies. And, as with other horror franchises, the body count increases with each sequel. Adding to the mayhem was the first season of MTV’s Scream, which aired this summer. All in all, this council of killers is responsible for at least 49 slayings.
Haunting Grounds: The Leprechaun series
Estimated Body Count: 50
The Leprechaun series is the embodiment of the finest that Irish culture and letters has to offer, easily surpassing the works of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. The titular antihero is murderously committed to acquiring a pot o’ gold, an undertaking that prompts travel to such exotic locales as Las Vegas, Compton, and outer space. Despite his diminutive stature, the Leprechaun’s super-sharp claws and teeth have helped him tally 50 onscreen fatalities, including a very young Jennifer Aniston, who made her big screen debut in the first film.
Haunting Grounds: The Saw series
Estimated Body Count: 60
John Kramer was first christened “Jigsaw” by detectives who discovered the serial killer’s calling card was a puzzle piece-shaped hunk of flesh carved from the corpses of his victims. The name stuck as the cops closed in on Kramer and realized his elaborate, irony-laden traps were designed to punish those he deemed guilty of criminal acts or taking life for granted (he must have been a fan of Se7en). More characters and plot twists (Jigsaw doesn’t work alone! Something about cancer!) were introduced as the series wore on, and Saw evolved into a labyrinthine annual soap opera drenched in blood and agony. A Grand Guignol for our times.
Haunting Grounds: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, Hannibal (TV)
Estimated Body Count: 98
Before 1991, you may not have even known what fava beans were — but after Anthony Hopkins’ first appearance as Doctor Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, nobody ever thought of them the same way again. Like Jason Voorhees, Lecter doesn’t appear in much of the famous reboot — he’s only in a little over 15 minutes of Lambs — but it was the first time we actually witnessed the good doctor rack up a few kills on screen (both Manhunter and its remake Red Dragon only imply Lecter’s murdered some folks), and audiences had a clear, um, appetite for the flesh-craving serial killer’s brand of mayhem: he’s gone on to appear in a number of other books and movies. Although we just saw the end of Hannibal‘s three-season run on NBC, series creator Bryan Fuller insists we haven’t seen the last of Lecter just yet.
Haunting Grounds: The Halloween series, minus Season of the Witch
Estimated Body Count: ~107
The best-known escapee of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael Myers has never been a big fan of babysitters, nor is he particularly fleet of foot. He digs Blue Oyster Cult, and makes special use of Star Trek paraphernalia and kitchen cutlery. Since the release of John Carpenter’s landmark Halloween, Myers’ legend has been told in a number of sequels, and if his reasons for killing are obscure, he’s still coldly efficient at the task; he’s racked up a whopping 100-plus notches on his belt.
Haunting Grounds: The Invisible Man (1933)
Estimated Body Count: 123
We were shocked (shocked!) to discover that killers with high body counts could even be found in Old Hollywood fare. Based on the H.G. Wells 1897 novel, James Whale’s pre-code horror film featured Claude Rains (Casablanca) in his American film debut as the titular villain, also known as Dr. Jack Griffin. Hiding away in a snowy village, Griffin experiments on himself while working on a drug called “monocane,” which he believes is the secret to invisibility. Although he does succeed in turning himself invisible, he also becomes a crazed murderer. Killing those who get in his way, and a train full of people just for kicks, Griffin eventually causes the death of 123 people – including himself.
Haunting Grounds: The Friday the 13th series
Estimated Body Count: 146
Rocking facial protection that would do Jacques Plante proud, Jason Voorhees terrorized Camp Crystal Lake with cold precision (and an ability to cheat death that Rasputin would envy) in Friday the 13th. Occasionally, he breaks out of the bucolic confines of the countryside to wreak havoc in the big city (Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan), Hades (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday), and the future (Jason X). According to our research, Jason has put a whopping 146 unfortunate souls on ice. Pretty impressive for a cat who drowned in 1958.
En español: Read this article in Spanish at Tomatazos.com.
Hollywood plays the race card this weekend opening a pair of star-driven comedies, one for white moviegoers and the other for black audiences. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson get the wider release with the romantic adventure comedy Fool’s Gold while debuting in 741 fewer theaters is Martin Lawrence‘s family reunion laughfest Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Adding to the mix is the standup comedy concert pic Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show which will also try to tickle funnybones from coast to coast. Not all three films will get to laugh all the way to the bank.
Five years and one day after their date flick How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days became a number one hit, McConaughey and Hudson reteam for Fool’s Gold. Directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama), the PG-13 picture tells of an ex-couple that must band together to find sunken treasure. The Warner Bros. release looks like a winner on paper. Take two stars with a proven track record, put them in a film that combines romantic comedy with action adventure, and hefty grosses from both genders should come rolling in. The marketing has certainly been pushing all the right aspects trying to sell this as a Romancing the Stone for today’s twentysomethings and thirtysomethings.
But the film’s poor execution will be a major liability in the long run. Reviews have been among the worst of any film in this new year. Since Fool’s Gold will play to an over-25 crowd, the thumbs down from critics could have an impact. Bad word-of-mouth will certainly kick in after this weekend and hurt future weeks. Then again, critically-panned comedies packed with big stars usually sell pretty well with the paying public. Gold will play to the same crowd that powered 10 Days to a $23.8M bow and McConaughey’s 2006 rom-com Failure to Launch to $24.4M. Both skewed female and heavily white. The actor’s latest offering could open in the same neighborhood but should suffer weaker legs. Opening in 3,125 theaters, Fool’s Gold may bow to about $23M.
Roscoe Jenkins will pull in most of its business from the African American audience. Turnout should be robust given the starpower. Sure the family reunion story has been done a hundred times, but moviegoers will want to see all the big names under one roof giving them two hours of laughs. In the right film, and when surrounded by other marquee stars, Martin Lawrence is still a big draw at the box office. His comedy sequel Big Momma’s House 2 opened to $27.7M around this time of year in 2006.
Plus with this weekend’s Top 20 set to offer no other films led by black casts, direct competition will be minimal. The Ice Cube comedy First Sunday debuted to $17.7M a month ago and Martin and gang could do better. Reviews will not be very good, but that should not matter much. The only limiting factor will be the theater count. Debuting in 2,384 locations, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could collect around $20M this weekend.
The Eye settled for a decent second place finish over the Super Bowl frame and like most fright flicks, should not enjoy a good hold on the second weekend. The new menu of comedies won’t provide too much competition so a decline of 50% would leave Lionsgate with about $6M lifting the total to $21M after ten days.
Fox’s female-skewing comedy 27 Dresses will take a direct hit from Matt and Kate’s reunion. Look for the Katherine Heigl film to fall by 40% to $5M for a 24-day score of $64M. Playing to a slightly different audience, Rambo took a sizable blow over the Super Bowl frame and should see its drop stabilize to 50%. That would leave the ultraviolent Lionsgate sequel with $3.5M putting the overall cume at $36M.
LAST YEAR: Following soon after his first-ever Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy rocketed to number one at the box office with the powerful $34.2M debut for the comedy Norbit. The Paramount release went on to gobble up $95.7M domestically and about $160M worldwide. Opening in second with a respectable $13.1M was the thriller Hannibal Rising which went on to gross $27.7M for The Weinstein Company. The previous weekend’s top two films followed, but switched their order. Universal’s Diane Keaton comedy Because I Said So held up well and grossed $9.2M while the horror pic The Messengers fell harder and took in $7.2M for Sony. Rounding out the top five was the unstoppable holiday hit Night at the Museum with $5.8M in its eighth frame.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
No awards season — even a strike-tainted one — would be complete without the Razzies, right? Of course not. And that’s why we’ve thoughtfully assembled all of this year’s nominees in one convenient location.
The Razzies, now entering their 28th year, have been celebrating the worst in film since 1980, when John Wilson took a raspberry trophy, spray-painted it gold, and stuck it to Can’t Stop the Music. This year’s nominees are suitably distinguished, and they all follow below (with Tomatometers in parentheses). ‘Fess up, Vineketeers — how many of these have you seen? And enjoyed?
Nicolas Cage, for Ghost Rider (27 percent), National Treasure: Book of Secrets (32 percent), and Next (30 percent)
Jim Carrey, for The Number 23 (8 percent)
Cuba Gooding, Jr., for Daddy Day Camp and Norbit
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Adam Sandler, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jessica Alba, for Awake (21 percent), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (35 percent), and Good Luck Chuck (3 percent)
Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos & Skyler Shaye, for Bratz
Elisha Cuthbert, for Captivity (7 percent)
Diane Keaton, for Because I Said So (5 percent)
Lindsay Lohan (as Aubrey), for I Know Who Killed Me
Lindsay Lohan (as Dakota), for I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Supporting Actor:
Orlando Bloom, for Pirates of the Carribbean: At World’s End (45 percent)
Kevin James, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Rob Schneider, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jon Voight, for Bratz, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, September Dawn (13 percent), and Transformers (57 percent)
Worst Supporting Actress:
Jessica Biel, for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Next
Carmen Electra, for Epic Movie (2 percent)
Eddie Murphy, for Norbit
Julia Ormond, for I Know Who Killed Me
Nicolette Sheridan, for Code Name: The Cleaner (4 percent)
Worst Screen Couple:
Jessica Alba with Dane Cook (for Good Luck Chuck), Hayden Christensen (for Awake), and Ioan Gruffudd (for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
Any combination of two totally air-headed characters in Bratz
Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan, for I Know Who Killed Me
Worst Remake or Ripoff:
Are We Done Yet? (8 percent, remake/ripoff of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House)
Bratz (a ripoff if ever there was one)
Epic Movie (ripoff of every movie it rips off)
I Know Who Killed Me (ripoff of Hostel, Saw, and The Patty Duke Show)
Who’s Your Caddy? (7 percent, ripoff of Caddyshack)
Geoff Rodkey and David J. Stem & David N. Weiss, Daddy Day Camp
Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, Epic Movie
Jeffrey Hammond, I Know Who Killed Me
Barry Fanaro and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy, Jay Sherick & David Ronn, Norbit
Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie:
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Hostel: Part II
I Know Who Killed Me
While sitting on a Comic Con panel, Frank Miller was asked about the hold-up on Sin City 2. (Numerous times, probably.) And it looks like the celebrated author / artist / filmmaker is laying the blame solely at the feet of the Weinstein brothers.
Could it be that Grindhouse threw a monkey wrench into future Weinstein production plans? Sheer speculation on my part, but I’d have thought a Sin City sequel would be a no-brainer by this point. Then again, both Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez are presently hard at work on other projects — to say nothing of the large number of busy actors who’d be needed. So there’s probably enough "blame" to go around, really.
According to Dark Horizons, Mr. Miller "confirmed that he and Robert Rodriguez have a script ready – an adaptation of A Dame to Kill and some of the book’s other short stories — but left the cryptic hint that the Weinstein’s themselves are part of the hold up — likely tying into the fledgling distributor’s lack of success so far at the box-office."
OK, so the Weinsteins didn’t exactly set the world on fire with Grindhouse, Miss Potter, Bobby, The Matador, Derailed, Pulse, Breaking and Entering, Harsh Times, DOA: Dead or Alive, The Gathering, Unknown, The Ex, Nomad, School for Scoundrels, Black Christmas, Arthur and the Invisibles, or Factory Girl — but they’re doing OK with 1408 and Sicko. Plus they’ve got some treats in store (Grace Is Gone is excellent, The Mist sounds great so far) for later this year. And maybe someday they’ll actually release Killshot, Teeth and Rogue and make a few dollars off of ’em. Still it’s tough to feel bad for the guys who put money behind Who’s Your Caddy? and Hannibal Rising. Then again, Clerks 2 was pretty darn funny.
Anyway, yeah: Sin City 2. As the highway signs sometimes say: Expect delays.
Source: Dark Horizons
Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage ruled Oscar weekend with his skull-on-fire motorcycle actioner "Ghost Rider," which held steady at number one in North America for the second straight time. Moviegoers delivered different verdicts to the handful of new releases led by the Jim Carrey thriller "The Number 23," which fared best and debuted in second place. Overall, the top ten was about even with the corresponding weekends from the last two years.
Dropping 57% from its powerful opening weekend, "Ghost Rider" took in an estimated $19.7M over the weekend and pushed its ten-day tally to a sensational $78.7M. The big-budget Sony actioner adapted from the popular Marvel comic book series suffered a decline similar to that of 2003’s "Daredevil," which sank 55% in its second frame after an explosive bow over Presidents’ Day weekend. That super hero flick captured 68% of its domestic total in the first ten days. "Ghost Rider" is so far following the same path which means a final gross of $115-120M seems likely.
Comedy guru Jim Carrey took a stab at horror with his new psychological thriller "The Number 23" and saw moderate results with a $15.1M launch, according to estimates. Playing in 2,759 theaters, the R-rated film averaged $5,476 per location for New Line. Critics were brutal to the scary pic, but the opening fared better than those of most of Carrey’s previous non-comedies.
Disney’s "Bridge to Terabithia" dropped 40% in its sophomore adventure and pulled in an estimated $13.6M in ticket sales. The PG-rated fantasy has banked an impressive $46.2M in ten days and may be heading for around $75M overall.
Fox saw a not-so-arresting debut for its cop comedy "Reno 911!: Miami," which opened in fourth place with an estimated $10.4M. The R-rated feature adapted from the moderately successful Comedy Central series averaged a mild $3,849 from a wide release in 2,702 theaters. By comparison, openings for other recent R-rated comedies based on popular television properties include $26.5M for "Borat" and $29M for "Jackass: Number Two," both of which bowed at number one.
Eddie Murphy‘s comedy "Norbit" dropped 42% to an estimated $9.7M in its third weekend raising its total to $74.7M for Paramount. Warner Bros. followed with its own comedy "Music and Lyrics," which pulled in an estimated $8M in its sophomore weekend. Down a reasonable 41%, the Hugh Grant–Drew Barrymore pic has taken in $32.1M in 12 days and could be headed for the $50M mark.
Universal’s "Breach" dipped 41% in its second weekend to an estimated $6.2M. With $20.5M in ten days, the FBI thriller in on course for a $35M total. The Tyler Perry comedy "Daddy’s Little Girls" lost half of its audience in the second weekend just like the director’s last two February comedies. The Lionsgate release grossed an estimated $5.3M, down 53%, and has taken in $25.6M. Both "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea’s Family Reunion" made about 75% of their total grosses in the first ten days so a $35M final for Girls seems likely.
A pair of new releases rounded out the top ten. Warner Bros. saw a dismal opening for its Billy Bob Thornton drama "The Astronaut Farmer," which grossed an estimated $4.5M from 2,155 locations. Averaging a poor $2,093 per theater, the PG-rated film earned mixed reviews from critics.
Goldwyn’s historical slave trade drama "Amazing Grace" enjoyed a solid bow with an estimated $4.3M from only 791 sites for a respectable $5,442 average matching "Ghost Rider’s" per-theater average to the dollar. Reviews were mostly favorable.
Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The runaway smash "Night at the Museum" collected an estimated $2.2M in its tenth weekend and upped its total to $241.7M putting it at number 44 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which made $241.4M in 2002. "Museum" fell 41% this weekend and should go on to reach around $246M domestically and over $500M worldwide.
Universal’s Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" grossed an estimated $2.9M, down 44%, putting its cume at a decent $38.4M. A final gross of $43-45M seems likely. Sony’s thriller "The Messengers" grossed an estimated $1.6M, tumbling 58%, for a $33.4M cume. The $16M production should conclude with a healthy $35M. MGM’s "Hannibal Rising" has grossed about $26M to date and should end its run with only $30M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $96.7M which was up 1% from last year when "Madea’s Family Reunion" opened at number one with $30M; but off 2% from 2005 when "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" debuted on top with $21.9M.
Source: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Hollywood studios opened five new wide releases targeting different audiences and were rewarded with a record-breaking Presidents’ Day holiday weekend tally as moviegoers opened their wallets and spread their cash across a variety of films. The comic book actioner "Ghost Rider" led the way with an explosive debut while the family drama "Bridge to Terabithia" was a solid performer in the runnerup spot.
The quintet of freshman films pumped in more than $100M of new business over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long weekend as the top ten soared to the highest gross in box office history during the January-to-April span.
Nicolas Cage led the bustling box office and set a new career high in the process with "Ghost Rider" which opened at number one grossing an estimated $44.5M over three days doubling the performance of its nearest competitor. Averaging a scorching $12,296 from an ultrawide release in 3,619 locations, the Sony smash based on the popular Marvel Comics character outgunned the $35.1M bow of "National Treasure," Cage’s previous best opening. The studio reported a preliminary four-day estimate for "Ghost Rider" of $51M over the extended Friday-to-Monday holiday span.
The PG-13 film performed much like director Mark Steven Johnson‘s last film, 2003’s "Daredevil," which was also based on a Marvel Comics character and launched over the same holiday frame. That Ben Affleck vehicle bowed to $40.3M over three days and $45M over four days which at today’s ticket prices would be almost identical to the "Ghost" numbers. Cage’s new motorcycle actioner will also set a new opening weekend record for the Washington-Lincoln holiday session beating the $45.1M four-day launch of the studio’s own "50 First Dates" from 2004.
Fanboys as expected powered "Ghost Rider" to its stellar grosses. Sony research indicated that an exceptionally high 62% of the turnout was male while 55% was under the age of 25. The effects-driven pic accounted for one-third of all ticket sales within the top ten and posted the largest opening of any film over the last six months.
Finishing the weekend in second place was Disney’s "Bridge to Terabithia" which collected an estimated $22.1M worth of ticket stubs over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The PG-rated fantasy about two seventh graders who imagine a magical wonderland to escape to averaged a sturdy $7,032 from 3,139 theaters. Earning strong reviews from critics, "Bridge" was adapted from the popular novel and played to younger children and their parents.
Last weekend’s number one flick "Norbit" fell 51% in its second weekend which considering all the new competition was a decent hold for the Eddie Murphy comedy. The Paramount release collected an estimated $16.8M over three days and lifted its ten-day cume to a solid $58.9M. The studio also reported a preliminary four-day estimate of $20.6M which would send the 11-day cume to $62.7M. "Norbit" marked the best ten-day start for a Murphy live-action picture since 2000’s summer hit "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" which took in $76.7M by the end of its second weekend on its way to $123.3M.
Opening in fourth place with an estimated $14M was the Hugh Grant–Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics." The Warner Bros. release about a washed up 80s singer who falls for a plant waterer averaged a respectable $4,738 from 2,955 locations and took in $19.5M since debuting on Wednesday for Valentine’s Day. Reviews were mixed for the PG-13 film and the three-day gross was similar to the opening of Grant’s 2002 hit "Two Weeks Notice" ($14.3M) and a bit better than Barrymore’s "Fever Pitch" which bowed to $12.4M two years ago. In its second weekend in the U.K., "Music" slipped only 17% and has grossed $10.5M in that market thus far and $14.2M overall internationally.
Lionsgate followed in fifth with another date film that bowed on the love holiday, Tyler Perry‘s "Daddy’s Little Girls." The PG-13 pic grossed an estimated $12.1M from 2,111 theaters for a solid $5,732 average over three days. Since launching on Wednesday, the tale of an attorney who couples up with a single working class father has taken in $17.8M. The opening was a far cry from the debuts of the filmmaker’s recent comedy hits. Last February, "Madea’s Family Reunion" opened to $30M on its way to $63.3M while the previous year, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" opened to $21.9M before finishing with $50.4M. Both films were released by Lionsgate on the last weekend of February and starred Perry as the outrageous Madea character. "Girls" may have generated less audience interest without Perry on screen.
Older adults lined up for the FBI thriller "Breach" which debuted better than expected with an estimated $10.4M from only 1,489 sites. The PG-13 film which stars Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper averaged a strong $6,965 per theater and earned good reviews. According to studio research from Universal, half of the audience was over the age of 50 and 52% of the crowd was female. The studio also reported a preliminary four-day estimate of $12.1M and $8,155 average.
"Hannibal Rising" sank to seventh place in its second weekend tumbling 58% to an estimated $5.5M. With $22.2M in ten days, look for the MGM release to reach about $30M. Universal’s comedy "Because I Said So" followed with an estimated $5M, off 46%, for a $33.2M cume.
Sony’s former number one "The Messengers" dropped 47% and scared up an estimated $3.8M giving the thriller a total of $30.5M. Fox’s Ben Stiller action-comedy "Night at the Museum" grossed an estimated $3.7M, down 36%, and lifted its tally to $237.3M becoming the first film to spend nine straight weekends in the top ten since last winter’s "The Chronicles of Narnia." "Night" also climbed up to number 46 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters sandwiching itself between a pair of action-comedy hits from 1984 – "Ghostbusters" ($238.6M) and "Beverly Hills Cop" ($234.8M). Of course, ticket prices were much lower two decades ago so "Night" has sold fewer tickets.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $137.8M over three days which was up a stunning 30% from last year when "Eight Below" opened at number one with $20.2M; and up a healthy 26% from 2005 when "Hitch" remained on top with $31.4M in its sophomore session.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Five new films, each targeting its own audience, cram into North American multiplexes giving moviegoers plenty of entertainment options over the four-day Presidents’ Day holiday weekend.
Segregating the races on Wednesday’s Valentine’s Day holiday with competing romantic comedies, Warner Bros. bowed the Hugh Grant–Drew Barrymore starrer "Music and Lyrics" for white audiences while Lionsgate countered with Tyler Perry‘s "Daddy’s Little Girls" for black moviegoers. Adding to the overcrowded frame on Friday will be Sony’s comic book actioner "Ghost Rider," Disney’s tween adventure "The Bridge to Terabithia," and the FBI thriller "Breach" from Universal. Although studios jammed too many films into this particular frame, audience overlap seems minimal so the box office should easily expand to its largest size of the year finally beating 2006 levels.
Johnny Blaze leads the way over the extended weekend as Nicolas Cage steps into the role of the Marvel Comics character in the big-budget actioner "Ghost Rider." The PG-13 film is directed by Mark Steven Johnson whose "Daredevil," another effects-driven action flick based on a B-level Marvel hero, topped the box office over the Presidents’ Day frame four years ago with a powerful $45M with Ben Affleck in the lead. Much of the same audience of young males and comic fans will be back, however moviegoers have since been subjected to endless super hero flicks so don’t be surprised if some take a pass this time. Sony has been loud in its marketing campaign and awareness is sky high with the target audience. A crowded marketplace could keep the grosses in check. But with the most theaters of any new release by far, the motorcycle pic should ride off with the box office crown with ease. "Ghost Rider" opens in 3,619 theaters on Friday and could collect around $35M over the four-day span.
Disney goes after the always reliable family audience with the fantasy drama "The Bridge to Terabithia," a film adaptation of the beloved book. In the PG-rated tale, a seventh grade boy befriends the new girl who moves in next door and together create a fantasy world through their imaginations as an escape from the struggles of real life. Kidpics based on books usually find themselves with a built-in audience showing up on opening weekend and with "Terabithia" launching over a school holiday session, the target audience will be very available. Last year, the studio won the weekend going after a similar crowd with "Eight Below" which opened to a solid $25M over four days. "Bridge" lacks big star names, but should still pull in families especially since that segment has few other titles in the current marketplace to be excited about. Younger teens may however get pulled away by the crude physical comedy of "Norbit" or the comic book action of "Ghost Rider." Launching in over 2,800 theaters, "The Bridge to Terabithia" may gross around $18M over the Friday-to-Monday period.
Following up his number one hits "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea’s Family Reunion," Tyler Perry returns to the big screen with his latest comedy, "Daddy’s Little Girls." The PG-13 film stars Gabrielle Union as an attorney who falls for a working class driver who has three daughters. Unlike his last two February chart-toppers, "Girls" finds Perry strictly behind the camera and not playing the outrageous matriarch Madea.
In recent years, nobody has proven the power of the African American audience more than Perry who exceeded industry expectations both times with the $21.9M bow of "Diary" and the stronger $30M debut of "Reunion" a year ago. Both debuted on the weekend after the Presidents’ Day frame. Lionsgate once again handles distribution duties, but various factors indicate that sales should deflate a bit. Starpower is less for "Girls," most notably because of Perry’s absence. Plus competition will be much tougher than in past years with "Norbit" in its second weekend playing to much of the same audience. However, the Tyler name sells and sell-outs are sure to occur in all parts of the country. Opening Wednesday in 2,111 theaters, "Daddy’s Little Girls" could take in about $16M over four days and $23M over six days.
Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore find love in the new romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics" which also opened on Wednesday to capture the date crowd on Valentine’s Day. On paper, the PG-13 film has all the ingredients to become a box office hit thanks to the starpower and timing of its release. But a poor script and lack of chemistry could impact weekend grosses if mid-week ticket buyers spread bad word of mouth. Both actors are proven draws at the turnstiles and their first pairing will undoubtedly spark interest from women and couples. Warner Bros. has been pushing the 80’s music angle since Grant plays the washed up half of a pop music superduo from that era. Competition for white women over 25 is not too fierce among the weekend’s other contenders so a strong start is likely. Composing tunes in 2,929 locations, "Music and Lyrics" may find itself with around $16M over four days and about $22M over six days.
Ryan Phillippe stars as a young FBI agent out to catch his boss who has been selling secrets to the Soviet Union in the new political thriller "Breach." The PG-13 pic co-stars Chris Cooper, Laura Linney, and Dennis Haysbert and is being released by Universal. Three factors will prevent big grosses for Reese’s ex-hubby. "Breach" lacks starpower, has too much competition to face, and is not being booked in too many theaters. Though the cast features some respected actors, none is a box office anchor that can draw in large paying crowds. Plus with four other new films hitting the multiplexes, and a collection of acclaimed Oscar contenders all attracting the attention of serious-minded adults, "Breach" cannot stand out. Academy pics may all be grossing small numbers individually, but moviegoers spent nearly $20M on the ones in the Top 20 last weekend and this long holiday frame will be the last full weekend to catch up on the contenders. Opening in just 1,487 theaters, "Breach" might steal about $7M over the four days.
Among holdovers, Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy may get driven out of the top spot by Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage. Both of their new films, of course, are for commercial gain and not critical acclaim. "Norbit" will be coming off of a solid opening, but will face competition from many of the new releases. The four-day gross could slide 30% from last weekend’s three-day opening and reach roughly $24M for the frame. That would give the Paramount release a terrific $64M in 11 days. A larger drop is in the works for "Hannibal Rising." The MGM release may fall 40% to about $8M for a cume of $23M after a similar 11 days.
LAST YEAR: The battle for Presidents’ Day weekend was won by the family adventure "Eight Below" which debuted on top with $25M over the four-day frame. Disney’s hit kids flick went on to collect $81.6M. Fox settled for second with its spoof comedy "Date Movie" which bowed to $21.8M over the Friday-to-Monday period on its way to $48.5M. "The Pink Panther" dropped from first to third with $20.9M followed by fellow kidpic "Curious George" with $15.4M. Rounding out the top five was "Final Destination 3" with $11.5M. Samuel L. Jackson flopped with his new drama "Freedomland" which debuted to just $6.7M over four days leading to a weak $12.5M final for Sony.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Eddie Murphy scored the 14th number one hit of his career this weekend by playing three eccentric characters in the new comedy "Norbit," which generated the largest opening of any film this year by far.
Debuting far back in second place with less than half the ticket sales was the revenge thriller "Hannibal Rising." With the Academy Awards just two weeks away, many moviegoers caught up on the major nominees which all displayed fantastic holds. The explosive "Norbit" bow, however, was not enough to keep the box office from dipping below year-ago levels for the sixth consecutive weekend.
Returning to the type of crude comedy that launched his career over a quarter-century ago, Eddie Murphy proved once again how strong of a box office draw he still is with "Norbit" which opened in the top spot with a very strong $33.7M, according to estimates. The PG-13 film, which was written by the comedian and his older brother Charlie Murphy, averaged a sizzling $10,759 from 3,136 theaters. Eddie Murphy also saw his Oscar-nominated turn in "Dreamgirls" sit in the top ten at the number nine spot. Both films were produced by DreamWorks and distributed by its new owner Paramount.
"Norbit," which finds the former "Saturday Night Live" star playing a skinny timid man as well as his outrageous and overweight wife, gave Murphy his biggest opening for a live-action film since 2000’s "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" which bowed to $42.5M in July of that year. That comedy also found the star putting on latex fat suits to play other characters. For DreamWorks, "Norbit" represented the studio’s third biggest live action opening ever and second largest for a non-sequel following the $34.8M of 2000’s "Gladiator."
Critics trashed "Norbit," but then again the target audience for this kind of comedy would never care about reviews anyway. The Murphy brand name plus effective marketing sold this movie and a broad audience turned out. Plus the actor has not been seen in these kinds of comedies in many years prompting a healthy appetite from fans. African Americans and Latinos were especially responsible for the stellar business. Budgeted in the vicinity of $65M, the battered husband pic should utilize the upcoming Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day holidays to help keep the tickets selling. That would allow "Norbit" to join "Dreamgirls" as the 12th and 13th $100M blockbusters of Eddie Murphy’s career with this May’s "Shrek the Third" set to become number fourteen after its first few days of release.
The return of screen villain Hannibal Lecter was not met with as much enthusiam. The prequel story "Hannibal Rising" debuted in second place with an estimated $13.4M from 3,003 theaters. Averaging a decent $4,446 per venue, the R-rated thriller about Lecter’s younger years and the revenge he sought upon those who killed his sister was marketed by The Weinstein Co. and distributed by MGM. The gross was less than half the $36.5M bow of the last film in the series, 2002’s "Red Dragon" which starred Anthony Hopkins in his final turn as the famed cannibal. "Hannibal Rising" may have opened on the exact same day of the year as 2001’s blockbuster "Hannibal," but the grosses could not have been more different. That Hopkins starrer shattered the February opening weekend record with a summer-like $58M launch. Reviews were mostly negative for the new installment.
Despite atrocious reviews, Diane Keaton‘s mother-daughter comedy "Because I Said So" held up very well in its second weekend slipping only 31% to an estimated $9M. That gave the Universal release a decent $25.6M in ten days and could put the film on track to reach about $50M. Fellow sophomore "The Messengers" dropped from first to fourth place in its second scare grossing an estimated $7.2M. Falling a steep 51%, the $16M thriller has banked $24.7M in ten days and should conclude in the neighborhood of $35M.
Ben Stiller‘s "Night at the Museum" enjoyed its eighth consecutive weekend in the top five and grossed an estimated $5.8M slipping a mere 10%. Despite the new star-driven comedy on the block, audiences still made time for the adventure pic which this weekend joined the list of the top 50 domestic blockbusters of all-time. "Museum" saw its cume rise to $232.1M putting it at number 50 just behind the $233.6M of another Fox holiday blockbuster, 2000’s "Cast Away."
Fox’s spoof comedy "Epic Movie" dropped 47% to an estimated $4.5M and bumped its cume up to $35.5M. Universal’s crime thriller "Smokin’ Aces" ranked seventh with an estimated $3.8M, down 38%, for a $30.9M total.
A trio of Oscar contenders rounded out the top ten. "Pan’s Labyrinth," the fairy tale for adults, continued showing superb legs and dipped just 4% to an estimated $3.5M. With $26.6M in sales thus far, the Picturehouse release has more than doubled its gross since earning six Academy Award nominations and is still expanding into more markets as solid word-of-mouth spreads.
Eddie Murphy’s second film in the top ten was "Dreamgirls" which slipped 23% to an estimated $3.1M. Paramount has collected $97.1M to date and is a week away from joining the century club. American subjects were still flocking to "The Queen" which eased only 5% to an estimated $2.5M lifting the cume to a stellar $49M.
A pair of Sony hits fell out of the top ten over the weekend. The Will Smith blockbuster "The Pursuit of Happyness" grossed an estimated $2.4M, down only 19%, and pushed its sum to $160.5M. The homelessness drama is Smith’s sixth consecutive $100M+ hit and tenth career blockbuster overall. His last six smashes together have grossed nearly $2 billion worldwide. "Pursuit," which earned its star an Oscar nod for best actor, could end its domestic run with close to $170M.
Sony’s $14M step dancing drama "Stomp the Yard" also took in an estimated $2.4M this weekend and boosted its incredible tally to $59.1M. Off 41%, a $65M final seems likely.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $86.5M which was off 12% from last year when "The Pink Panther" opened at number one with $20.2M; and down 12% from 2005 as well when "Hitch" debuted on top with $43.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Moviegoers get to choose between a master comic taking on three roles or a diabolical screen villain in his early years when they walk into their local multiplex this weekend.
Eddie Murphy stars in the outrageous comedy "Norbit" which is looking to rule the frame by pulling in teens while the dark thriller "Hannibal Rising" will play to an older adult audience interested in gruesome brutality. There should be little overlap between the audiences of the two films so each will have room to breathe and reach its potential. With the Super Bowl now history, Hollywood is looking for the marketplace to bounce back and score its biggest opening yet this year.
Movie fans adore films about loveable losers and the latest to add its name to the hit list is "Norbit." The PG-13 film stars Eddie Murphy as both a shy nerdy man and his vivacious wife who is large and in charge. The comic legend also plays a Chinese man who raised the title character when he was a child. Acting jobs were actually given to others too including Thandie Newton, Eddie Griffin, and Cuba Gooding Jr. The Paramount release seamlessly integrates the two Murphys on screen and the crude envelope-pushing humor will guarantee that every 15-year-old shows up on opening weekend. The marketing push has been solid too. "Night at the Museum"’s stellar box office run is proof of the hunger for big star-driven comedies and "Norbit" is finally the next biggie that will generate some major cash.
Timing for "Norbit" is pitch perfect. Murphy’s Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination for "Dreamgirls" has given him plenty of heat and media exposure over the last several weeks. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the date crowd certainly could be looking for something fun to go out and see this weekend. Plus, Black History Month adds an extra spotlight to African American stars and the former Axel Foley is among the most reliable draws of any black actor working today with immensely broad appeal. And the box office needs a big hit to kick things in gear as for three consecutive weekends, no film has managed to sell at least $20M worth of tickets.
Murphy has spent much of the last decade doing family-friendly films and hasn’t had an all-out comedy smash since 2000’s "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" which opened in July of that year to $42.5M on its way to $123.3M. Fans turned out in droves to see the funnyman put on fat suits and play multiple characters that were rude and crude and led the sequel to a gross that nearly matched the original’s $128.8M from the summer of 1996. After all these years, moviegoers will certainly want another helping. Crashing into around 3,000 theaters, "Norbit" might see itself grossing $31M this weekend.
Now that movie buffs know the whole story of Darth Vader’s teen years, another popular screen villain gets his puberty tale told in "Hannibal Rising." The R-rated revenge flick tells the story of a young Mr. Lecter who seeks vengeance on those who killed his young sister. Along the way, we see how his love of eating flesh and human butchery came about. MGM and The Weinstein Company are hoping to lure in fans of the previous installments of the saga. Certainly 2001’s "Hannibal" and 2002’s "Red Dragon" proved that money could still be made despite the losses of director Jonathan Demme and actress Jodie Foster, both of whom won Oscars for 1991’s "Silence of the Lambs." Now, the real test for the franchise will come as Anthony Hopkins is no longer in the cast. However, part of his image is used in a clever way in the television spots that could fool some folks.
Many of the adult fans of the first films will definitely take a pass on "Hannibal Rising" since leads Gaspard Ulliel and Gong Li just don’t sell tickets. But curiosity and the brand name will attract some in the first week, especially those who crave brutality and a little cannibalism in their weekend fun. Long-term prospects look weak. The new chapter is not likely to approach the $36.5M opening of "Red Dragon" and will only see a fraction of the $58M bow of "Hannibal" which shattered the February opening weekend record six years ago when it opened on the exact same day. Bad reviews will not help much either. While its three predecessors all debuted in the top spot, this latest tale should find itself eating into the runnerup spot. "Hannibal Rising" opens in about 2,900 theaters on Friday and could gross roughly $15M for the weekend.
Last weekend, the spooky thriller "The Messengers" beat out the Diane Keaton comedy "Because I Said So" for the top spot, but the chick flick has been winning the weekdays ranking first on Monday and Tuesday. The Sony horror flick should see the steeper drop especially with Eddie stealing the teen vote and fall 55% to about $7M for a ten-day total of $24M. "Said So" may decline by 45% and rake in a similar $7M for a cume of $23M after ten days for Universal.
LAST YEAR: New releases flooded into the marketplace swiping the top four spots for the frame. Leading the way was the much-delayed Steve Martin comedy remake "The Pink Panther" which bowed to $20.2M on its way to $82.2M for Sony. Close behind was the horror sequel "Final Destination 3" with $19.2M leading to a $54.1M final for New Line. Bowing in third was the animated kidpic "Curious George" with $14.7M while Harrison Ford slumped into fourth with his action pic "Firewall" which opened to $13.6M. Final grosses reached $58.4M for the Universal toon and $48.8M for the techno thriller from Warner Bros. The fright flick "When a Stranger Calls" dropped 58% from first to fifth and collected $9.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got a nerd with an overbearing fiancée ("Norbit," starring Eddie Murphy) and the early days of Hannibal Lecter ("Hannibal Rising," starring Gaspard Ulliel and Gong Li). What do the critics have to say?
Eddie Murphy’s searing, Oscar-nominated performance as a James Brown-esque soul singer in "Dreamgirls" may be the venerable star’s best work to date. So, what does he do for an encore? "Norbit," a film that critics say is as lowbrow as the day is long. Murphy plays three roles (a nerdy guy, his incredibly brash and obese significant other, and his Asian-American adoptive father), a strategy that paid off in the "Nutty Professor" movies. Does it work this time? Not really, say critics; though Murphy gives it his all, the material is crass and largely unfunny. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "Norbit" is not phat.
As Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins created one of the most iconic villains in the movies, a character so morally repugnant and yet so brilliant that audiences could only imagine what was going on inside his head. "Hannibal Rising" is an attempt at explanation. As it turns out, young Dr. Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) went through a lot: he was orphaned, his sister suffered a horrible fate, and he became hell-bent on revenge. The problem with "Hannibal Rising," say critics, is not the direction, as Peter Webber creates an eerie, sinister mood throughout. The scribes say that explaining Hannibal’s motivations reduces the character to a collection of dime-store psychological traits. At 16 percent on the Tomatometer, "Hannibal Rising" isn’t much of a cinematic feast.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Lives of Others," a thriller set during the paranoid days of the East German regime (and a Best Foreign Film Oscar Nominee), is at 93 percent; "The Decomposition of the Soul," a documentary about the tactics of the East German secret police, is at 67 percent; "Burning Annie," an indie comedy about a college kid obsessed with "Annie Hall," is at 29 percent; and "The Last Sin Eater," the tale of a young girl’s search for absolution, is at 17 percent.
And finally, mad props to bribios for correctly guessing "The Messengers"’ Tomatometer of 14 percent. Excellent work, bribios.