It was in 1993 that Hollywood realized the dream of putting a video game movie up on the big screen with Super Mario Bros., and setting the stage for a long legacy of questionable choices, troubled productions, and gamers’ pixel tears left in their wake. But like the kid who just has to pump in one more quarter to reach for that high score, the studios keep on trying (while the fans just keep on hoping), and we’re celebrating that sort of sheer tenacity with this guide to the best video game movies (and plenty of the worst) ranked by Tomatometer!
Here, you will find the near-decent (Rampage, Resident Evil), the should’ve-been-goods (Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft), the ridiculous-but-we-love-thems (Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill), and the ones made by Uwe Boll, who deserves his own category (Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead). We’re using a 20-review minimum cutoff for inclusion from theatrical releases only, because it’s not just enough to make a questionable movie, critics need to witness the aftermath, too.
And in May 2019, Detective Pikachu officially broke the video game curse! Fitting that Nintendo, whose Super Mario Bros. movie started all this trouble, would be the one to end it. And in another surprise 2019 development, the second Angry Birds movie has slingshot the naysayers by racking up plenty of critical praise, toppling Pikachu mere months after its release.
Then in 2020, when it didn’t seem it had a chili dog’s chance in hell, Sonic the Hedgehog to general critics enthusiasm, marking three Fresh video game movies in two years. And then, in 2021, Werewolves Within went Certified Fresh, establishing it as by-far the best-reviewed video game movie! See all the high scores (and lots and lots of the lows) with our guide to 46 video game movies, ranked worst to best!
Critics Consensus: With its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld,... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it offers mild entertainment through campy one-liners and the overacting of the late Raul Julia, Street Fighter's nonstop action sequences are not enough to make up for a predictable, uneven storyline.
Synopsis: Gen. Bison (Raul Julia), the evil dictator of Shadaloo, captures a busload of relief workers and holds them for ransom.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Assassin's Creed is arguably better made (and certainly better cast) than most video game adaptations; unfortunately, the CGI-fueled end result still is still a joylessly overplotted slog.
Synopsis: Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in... [More]
Critics Consensus:Resident Evil: Retribution offers everything one might reasonably expect from the fifth installment in a heavily action-dependent franchise -- which means very little beyond stylishly hollow CGI-enhanced set pieces.
Synopsis: As Umbrella Corp.'s deadly T-virus continues to turn the world's population into legions of flesh-eating zombies, Alice (Milla Jovovich), the... [More]
Critics Consensus:Warcraft has visual thrills to spare, but they -- and director Duncan Jones' distinctive gifts -- are wasted on a sluggish and derivative adaptation of a bestselling game with little evident cinematic value.
Synopsis: Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul'dan utilizes dark magic to open a portal to the... [More]
Critics Consensus:Resident Evil: The Final Chapter may prove mind-numbingly chaotic for the unconverted, but for fans of the venerable franchise, it offers a fittingly kinetic conclusion to its violent post-apocalyptic saga.
Synopsis: The T-virus unleashed by the evil Umbrella Corp. has spread to every corner of the globe, infesting the planet with... [More]
Critics Consensus: Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.
Synopsis: The world needed a hero -- it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on... [More]
Critics Consensus:Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most -- if not all -- of the franchise's fans.
Synopsis: Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the... [More]
The 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo offered some promising new titles inspired by our favorite films and television shows when it hit the Los Angeles Convention Center June 12-14. Games based on movies and serialized TV are nothing new, but the genre has a history of pushing out products more focused on promoting an IP than offering a quality interactive experience.
That’s changing. Game developers, passionate about the same titles as the rest of us, are shelving the marketing-spun schlock in favor of crafting ambitious projects that put us in our favorite fictional worlds.
Here are 10 we can’t wait to play!
JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION
Developer: Frontier Developments Publisher: Frontier Developments Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: Available now
As fans of the Jurassic Park franchise films are well aware, the movies are primarily action-ratcheting affairs focused on dinos unleashing all kinds of hell on unsuspecting park-goers. Jurassic World Evolution, however, trades epic destruction for careful construction, as it tasks players with planning, building, managing, and monitoring their very own prehistoric theme park. While the game’s more of a cerebral stimulation, it’ll still spike your adrenaline when, say, your burgeoning management skills accidentally let a velociraptor loose in the food court.
LEGO THE INCREDIBLES
Developer: TT Games Publisher: Warner Bros. Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch Release Date: Available now
If seeing Incredibles 2 hasn’t completely satisfied your craving for the superhero family’s unique brand of crime-fighting fun, you may want to suit-up for LEGO The Incredibles. Brimming with block-y bad guys, brick-based puzzles, and the LEGO series’ signature personality and humor, this latest plastic toy-packed adventure lets fans relive the best moments from both entries in the popular Pixar franchise. Tons of playable characters – including fan-favorite Edna Mode – and special moves, requiring the entire Parr crew to participate, round out this family-friendly romp.
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Systems: PlayStation 4 Release Date: September 7, 2018
Set in a sprawling, open-world New York City, this original Spider-Man tale – from veteran developer Insomniac Games – forgoes the origin story slog in favor of putting players behind the shooting webs, acrobatic combat, and wisecracking sense of humor of a more seasoned Spidey. An eye-popping visual presentation, adrenaline-spiking set pieces, fluid action, and more iconic villains than you can cram into Raft prison complement the cinematic wall-crawling, web-spinning action.
WORLD WAR Z
Developer: Saber Interactive Publisher: Paramount Pictures Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: 2018
Plenty of games task players with shooting zombies, scavenging for supplies, and generally doing whatever it takes to survive the undead apocalypse. World War Z – which borrows more from the Brad Pitt film than Max Brooks’ book – breaths some fresh life into the rotting corpse genre, however, by putting up to 500 flesh-eating freaks on screen simultaneously. Of course, these hungry hordes can also form horrifying zombie pyramids, making it more difficult for you and your co-op partners to fend them off and live another day.
SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER
Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Square Enix Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: September 14, 2018
Fans of the Tomb Raider films and games can expect to meet a very different Lara Croft in this trilogy-capping entry. More Predator than Indiana Jones, Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees a confident, capable, vengeance-craving Croft camouflaged in mud and employing brutal combat tactics to turn exotic jungle locales into goon graveyards. Though Shadow isn’t your typical relic-hunting romp, players can still expect seat-of-the-pants storytelling, cinematic set pieces, and, yes, plenty of tombs to raid.
LEGO DC SUPER-VILLAINS
Developer: TT Games Publisher: Warner Bros. Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Release Date: October 16, 2018
TT Games has no less than three Batman-starring installments in their stable of brick-busting LEGO adventures, but their latest DC entry is taking a decidedly different approach to the iconic comic book universe. As its title suggests, LEGO DC Super-Villains is all about the bad guys, from Harley Quinn and Lex Luthor to Poison Ivy and the Crown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Rather than playing as these iconic foes though, players will join them as their very own, fully customizable and upgradeable evildoer.
OVERKILL’S THE WALKING DEAD
Developer: Overkill Software Publisher: Starbreeze Studios/505 Games Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: November 6, 2018
Hundreds of games have pitted players against hordes of foot-shuffling foes, and a handful of those have even unfolded in Robert Kirkman’s walker-infested world. Overkill’s The Walking Dead separates itself from the brain-craving bunch, however, by translating the unforgiving world of the comic books into thumb-blistering gameplay. For fans, this means strategically cooperating with three other players to not only survive brutally difficult encounters with the undead, but also joining forces to fight the game’s most challenging enemies, a human faction dubbed “The Family.”
Developer: IO Interactive Publisher: WBIE Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: November 13, 2018
We haven’t seen the bald, bar-coded assassin on the big screen since Rupert Friend wore his signature sharp suit and red tie in 2015’s Hitman: Agent 47. Fans needn’t wait for a film sequel to be reunited with their favorite hired killer, however, as Hitman 2 is headed to game consoles this fall. Assuming the role of the titular professional, stealthy players will travel to stunningly-realized exotic locales, don disguises, and incorporate improvised weapons – such as rat poison, frying pans, and frozen fish – to permanently silence high-level targets.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: January 25, 2019
Long before zombie shooters and apocalypse survival sims spread through the video game world like a population-wiping plague, players were fighting virally-infected canines and gobbling up green herbs in Resident Evil. Now, Capcom is inviting fans back to Raccoon City to relive what’s widely considered the seminal survival horror series’ best entry. More than a mere remaster though, Resident Evil 2 is a completely rebuilt re-imagining, featuring brand new visuals, audio, controls, and a nerve-fraying narrative to rival any contemporary take on the walking corpse genre.
KINGDOM HEARTS III
Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One Release Date: January 29, 2019
The Kingdom Hearts series has always been defined by its appealing, if unlikely, mash-up of Disney and Final Fantasy characters. Its long-awaited sequel though, is doubling down on the Disney – and Pixar – content, inviting fans to explore worlds and interact with heroes and villains from a variety of favorite films from Walt’s vault. From Frozen, Tangled, and Toy Story to Hercules, Wreck-It Ralph, and Pirates of the Caribbean, this fan-servicing sequel has something for Disney and Pixar enthusiasts of all stripes.
In the first known instance of bloodshed in Bogota, 80 American corporate workers living in the Colombian capital are locked in their building and forced to meet a new deadline…of death. Toeing the company line has never been bloodier than in The Belko Experiment, inspiring this week’s gallery of 24 more of the worst companies to work for from film and television history.
Ratchet & Clank: Recently re-imagined for your PlayStation 4, now appearing on the big screen for the first time. The movie invites viewers back to see the origin team-up of the duo (one a robot, the other a bobcat-ish thing, probably a descendant of prolific serial killer Bubsy), which inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a history of video games-based movies by Tomatometer!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is out in theaters this week, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a visual bloody guide to the history of zombies in film and on your television. Brrraaaaaiinnsss….
Good news, fans of the Resident Evil films: Sony and Capcom are teaming up to continue the series. Sort of.
Variety reports that the companies are jointly producing Biohazard: Generation, a 3-D CGI feature that will extend the RE mythology. From the article:
Skedded for release in the latter half of 2008, the toon, like the other “Resident Evil” pics, is based on a hit horror game that Shinji Mikami created and Capcom developed for the Sony PlayStation.
The toon will be 3-D CG and based on an original story; the helmer and other cast and crew are yet to be announced.
If this has any impact on the live-action franchise, it hasn’t been revealed. Since its release in September, the third (and supposedly final) RE film, Resident Evil: Extinction, has amassed a $100 million worldwide gross.
Competition, or a lack of it, will be the deciding factor at the North American box office this weekend for the half-dozen new releases that studios are packing into already overcrowded multiplexes. Leading the way is the horror film 30 Days of Night followed by the sports comedy The Comebacks which both will be targeting the teens and young adults that Hollywood has been ignoring in recent weeks. Mature adults who already have a wide selection of serious dramas to choose from will be served up three more – Reese Witherspoon‘s Rendition, Ben Affleck‘s Gone Baby Gone, and Halle Berry‘s Things We Lost in the Fire. With far too many films aiming for the same finite audience segment, some are sure to eat into the potential of others.
Sony will monopolize the horror crowd looking for a scare before Halloween with its gorefest 30 Days of Night which tells of vampires that attack a small town in northern Alaska during its annual sunless period. The R-rated film prominently informs moviegoers in its marketing that it is based on a graphic novel hoping to tap into a little bit of the excitement generated by 300 last spring. The first eight months of this year were brutal to R-rated horror films with none reaching number one and high-profile franchise flicks like Hostel II, 28 Weeks Later, and The Hills Have Eyes 2 all failing to reach $10M on opening weekend. But the Halloween remake over Labor Day weekend changed all that and was followed three weeks later by another top spot debut from horror-action hybrid Resident Evil: Extinction. But those have died out so 30 Days stands as the only creepfest at a time when scary movies are in demand. Attacking 2,700 theaters, 30 Days of Night should easily top the charts and could bite into around $19M over the weekend.
30 Days of Night
Fox spoofs the world of sports films with its new comedy The Comebacks which will target adolescents either too young for 30 Days or uninterested in scary movies. With so many mature stories hogging up screens, the market can certainly use a dose of immature humor right about now. The Comebacks is the first viable PG-13 comedy aimed at teens since fellow sports comedy Balls of Fury launched at the end of August. After a mid-week debut, that pic bowed to $11.4M over three days and Comebacks will play to many of the same folks. And with seventeen R-rated films opening wide over the last eight weeks, there has been little to celebrate for the under-17 crowd. Sure The Comebacks looks dumb, but dumb can sell. Add in a trim running time of under 90 minutes and commercial prospects are not bad. This is disposable entertainment for 14-year-olds. It will draw attention upfront, and be forgotten two weeks from now. Thanks to a lack of direct competition, The Comebacks could debut with about $11M from 2,800 sites.
Leading the charge for the 30-plus crowd this weekend is Reese Witherspoon who headlines the political thriller Rendition from New Line. The R-rated drama finds the Oscar winner playing a woman whose Egyptian-born husband is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being a terrorist. Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep add to the cast. Rendition follows The Kingdom and In the Valley of Elah as military-themed films this fall with connections to the Middle East. Audiences will want only so much of this content. Witherspoon will have her starpower put to the test since she is the only major commercial star here and she is outside of her safety zone of romantic comedies. The film will play to mature adults and will have to compete not only with this weekend’s other new dramas, but also with an assortment of holdovers already playing to the same audience. Reviews have been mixed which will also make things difficult. Debuting in roughly 2,200 locations, Rendition may capture about $9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Reese Witherspoon and Peter Sarsgaard in Rendition
Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with the crime thriller Gone Baby Gone which stars his brother Casey in the lead role. The Miramax release also stars Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Michelle Monaghan and carries a R rating. Reviews have been good which will come as a shocker to those that look at this movie as nothing more than Daredevil getting to hop into the director’s chair. Reese, Joaquin, George, Cate, and Halle will all be cutting into the adult pie which can only expand by a certain amount. The marketing push has been highlighting the film as being from the author of Mystic River in hopes of finding those who loved that other Boston-set fall crime drama. An invite to the top five may not arrive for Ben. Opening in approximately 1,500 theaters, Gone Baby Gone could collect about $6M this weekend.
Freeman, Affleck and Monaghan in Gone Baby Gone
Yet another new option for adults looking for serious fare is the Halle Berry–Benicio Del Toro starrer Things We Lost in the Fire. The Paramount release about a widow who seeks comfort from her dead husband’s drug-addicted friend will play to a mature audience and skew more female. The R-rated film has generated some good early reviews and both leads have Oscars on their shelves, but it will not be enough to compete with the other films targeting the same crowd. Berry showed in April that she can only open a picture so much when her thriller Perfect Stranger bowed to a $4,211 average even though A-lister Bruce Willis co-starred. With a not-so-wide release in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, Things We Lost in the Fire might debut with around $3M.
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire
Freestyle Releasing has booked the few remaining empty screens out there for its teen thriller Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour. As one of the only PG-rated suspense pics ever made, the film will try to attract younger teenagers not interested in sports-themed comedies. With only 1,100 theaters, a quiet marketing campaign, no stars, and zero buzz, a weak debut of about $1M could result.
Disney’s The Game Plan once again has no new competition for the kiddie audience. Why studios have programmed so many serious adult dramas into this month and no other good family films is anyone’s guess. A 35% dip would leave The Rock with $7M and an impressive cume of $68M after 24 days.
Both Sony’s We Own the Night and the Warner Bros. thriller Michael Clayton will have to fight extra hard in order to compete with the new releases gunning for their customers. Night looks to slide more and fall by 45% while the strongly reviewed Clayton could ease by 40% with both films grossing roughly $6M over the weekend. That would lead to ten-day totals of $20M and $21M, respectively.
LAST YEAR: Just two months after the release of the similarly-themed magician pic The Illusionist, Buena Vista still managed to score a number one bow for The Prestige which opened with $14.8M on its way to $53.1M. Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed enjoyed a strong hold and ranked second with $13.5M in its third frame. Debuting in third was Clint Eastwood‘s war saga Flags of Our Fathers with $10.2M leading to a disappointing $33.6M final for Paramount. Sony’s animated hit Open Season ranked fourth with $8.2M. Rounding out the top five was rival family film Flicka with $7.7M for Fox on its way to only $21M. Also premiering in the top ten was Sony’s Marie Antoinette with $5.4M which led to a final tally of just $16M.
Ben Stiller‘s new comedy
The Heartbreak Kidstumbled in its opening frame and
forced the overall box office to plunge to the worst October weekend in eight
years. Incumbent family comedy The Game Plan posted a strong sophomore hold and
retained its position as North America’s most popular film. But two other new
releases did nothing to energize the multiplexes as the top ten films together
grossed what just the top three pictures did a year ago on this same weekend.
The calendar may say October but the dismal box office grosses make it seem like
September never ended.
Surprising industry watchers once again, Disney’s The Game Plan held onto the
number one spot for a second time grossing an estimated $16.3M for a slim 29%
decline. That gave The Rock‘s first entry into the world of kid’s movies a solid
$42.8M in only ten days allowing the PG-rated comedy to already surpass the
grosses of his last two films
Gridiron Gang ($38.4M) and Doom($28M). All three pics were number one openers. Last weekend, many expected Game Plan to
debut in second place behind The Kingdom while this weekend Heartbreak was
widely seen as debuting on top. In both cases the quarterback daddy flick
swiped the top spot and with little family competition in the weeks ahead, a
trip to the $100M club could be in the works.
Disney is still benefiting from the fall season’s shocking lack of product for
families. For the third consecutive weekend, seven of the top ten films carried
giving parents few other options for their children. The studio has virtually no
foes to deal with until Jerry Seinfeld‘s animated pic Bee Movie hits theaters on
November 2. Game Plan‘s second weekend drop was even smaller than the 40%
decline that the studio’s Vin Diesel family film The Pacifier experienced in
March 2005 on its way to a stunning $113.1M tally. The Game Plan now looks
certain to surpass the $90.5M of 2002’s The
Scorpion Kingto become The
Rock’s highest grossing film in a lead role.
The weekend’s big disappointment came from the Ben Stiller-Farrelly brothers
The Heartbreak Kid which debuted in second place with an
estimated $14M from 3,229 theaters. Averaging a mediocre $4,345 per site, the
R-rated film marked the first reteaming of the actor with the filmmakers since
1998 sleeper smash
There’s Something About Mary which grossed a stunning $176.5M
that year. Heartbreak was universally expected to open at number one
and was thought to have the potential to capture at least $20M in opening
weekend business for DreamWorks and Paramount. The budget was more than $60M,
according to the studios.
For Stiller, Heartbreak‘s opening was half the size of the bows of his other
recent comedies like Night at the Museum ($30.4M), Starsky and Hutch
($28.1M), and Along Came Polly ($27.7M). Those were PG or PG-13 films but the
comedian was still expected to draw a large crowd this weekend. However
for the Farrelly brothers, the performance was better than the $12.4M of their
last pic Fever
Pitch in 2005 and the $9.4M of 2003’s Stuck
on You. Reviews were
mostly negative which is par for the course with these types of comedies.
The Heartbreak Kid put Stiller’s box office power to the test and the results
were discouraging. Most of the comedian’s hits feature other big stars to help
a paying audience. This time Stiller was the only major name and audiences did
not bite. In fact the launch was very similar to that of rival R-rated romantic
comedy Good Luck Chuck which debuted to $13.7M and a better $5,227 average just two
weeks ago. That film offered some star wattage from both genders with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba.
Universal’s Middle East drama The Kingdom
dropped 46% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M and placed third. The Jamie Foxx pic has taken in
$31.4M in ten days and should find its way to $50-55M. Sony’s action-horror
Resident Evil: Extinction fell 47% to an estimated $4.3M and pushed its
17-day cume to $43.5M.
Failing to find an audience on opening weekend was the fantasy adventure film The Seeker: The Dark is Rising which bowed to an estimated $3.7M from a
very wide 3,141 theaters for a dismal $1,186 average. The PG-rated pic from the
new venture between Fox and Walden Media targeted young boys but got
nowhere at the box office. Seeker‘s debut was even worse than the $5M launch of Dragon Wars from just two weeks ago which went after the same audience.
But thanks to a sluggish marketplace, Seeker‘s weak opening still landed the
film in the top five even though its nearly $40M budget will take much time to
The Lionsgate comedy Good Luck Chuck grossed an estimated $3.5M, off 44%, for a
$29.1M sum. The dance drama Feel the Noise delivered a seventh place
debut with an estimated $3.4M from just 1,015 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,350
per site, the PG-13 film played to urban teens and came from the new
Sony/BMG film division.
A trio of R-rated films rounded out the top ten. The long-lasting Western 3:10 to Yuma once again enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten sliding only 28%
an estimated $3M in its fifth frame for a solid cume of $48.6M for Lionsgate.
The Warner Bros. vigilante thriller The Brave One dropped 39% to an estimated
Jodie Foster and her gun $34.3M to date. Mr. Woodcock claimed the
ten spot for New Line with an estimated $2M, down 31%, and a new total of
The weekend’s most notable fireworks came in limited release as the increasingly
crowded arthouse scene saw some red hot numbers from awards hopefuls.
George Clooney led the way with his legal thriller
Michael Claytonwhich bowed
in only 15 theaters but grossed an estimated $704,000 for an astounding
$46,933 average. Powered by strong reviews and starpower from the Oscar-winning
actor, the R-rated film is hoping to keep the momentum going when it
expands nationally on Friday into more than 2,400 theaters.
A pair of acclaimed filmmakers enjoyed encouraging sophomore expansions with
their latest efforts and delivered the next best averages. Wes Anderson‘s comedy The Darjeeling
Limited widened from two New York houses to 19 locations in seven
markets and grossed an estimated $553,000 for a powerful $29,099
average. Fox Searchlight will continue to open in more cities over the next two
weekends before going nationwide into more than 800 playdates at the end of the
month. Ang Lee‘s NC-17 romantic thriller Lust, Caution also held up very well as
it entered new cities. The Focus release went from a solo Manhattan house to
17 venues and collected an estimated $369,000 for a potent $21,696 average.
Totals stand at $$477,000 for Lust and $781,000 for Darjeeling.
Also expanding and still generating good averages in their third frames were Sean Penn‘s Into the Wild and Brad Pitt‘s
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Paramount Vantage widened Wild from 33 to 135 houses and
grossed an estimated $1.3M for an impressive $9,593 average. Warner
Bros. made a leap from five to 61 locations with Jesse and made off with an
estimated $408,000 for a respectable $6,689 average. Cumes are $2.5M and
$746,000 respectively and each film will continue to add more cities and
theaters in the weeks ahead.
Not faring well in its national expansion was the drama The
Jane Austen Book Clubwhich grossed an estimated $1.5M from 1,232 sites for a weak $1,247
average. Last weekend, the Sony Classics release averaged $4,700 from only 41
venues. Total sits at $2M.
Three films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. The Focus mob thriller Eastern Promises
dipped 33% to an estimated $2M giving the
David Cronenberg David
$14.3M overall. A decent $20M final seems likely which would put it about
one-third below the $31.5M of the director’s last film A History of Violence
Sony’s Beatles-themed musical feature Across the
Universe continued to have
great legs easing a mere 8% in its fourth outing to an estimated $1.9M. With $8M
in the bank from limited release, the Julie Taymor-directed pic goes wide on
Friday into more than 700 sites. Universe joins the music-themed films
Hairsprayand Onceas movies with some of the best legs at the box office over the last
several months. But it was a sad tune for Universal’s teen comedy Sydney White
which tumbled 49% to an estimated $1.3M for a weak total of just $10.2M. Look
for a poor $13M finish.