Did any horror movie buffs think we would ever get to this moment? That a Sam Raimi-produced remake of “The Evil Dead” (known as just “Evil Dead”; the Deadite is in the details) would hit number one? With ease, this latest version of “Evil Dead” has outgrossed all previous entries of the series, continuing a box office trend where horror remakes frontload their earnings, guaranteeing both a return on their modest investments, but also a precipitous fall down the chart in the coming weeks.
Quality-wise, this isn’t exactly analogous to those odious Platinum Dunes properties like “A Nightmare On Elm Street” or “Friday The 13th,” both of which opened bigger. But those were franchise efforts, properties that achieved the mainstream success that “The Evil Dead” never had: the best comparison is this year’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” which boasted a similarly strong opening day, then curdled like bad milk. Unlike that film, also based on a much bigger property, this didn’t have the benefit of 3D, and some surprisingly decent reviews added to audience interest. The ‘C+’ Cinemascore is likely derived from how poorly the horror genre fares regarding that metric, fairing either remarkably poor, or performing above and beyond in regards to well-established junk franchise titles (“Saw”).
The question is what to do next. While audiences packed theaters on Friday, by Saturday sales already dropped off by 26%. With a budget of $17 million and a fanbase that has kept the original films circulating through eleventy billion DVD releases, the guess is that Sony and Ghost House will gravitate towards a follow-up. The question is in what direction will they move? The (in)famous “Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn” took the series in a more comic but still gruesome direction. Will they borrow a page from Sam Raimi’s playbook and go lighter, or will they remain in the hard-R wheelhouse? And where does this leave an unaffiliated “Evil Dead” supposedly being worked on by Raimi himself? It’s best left to the second weekend numbers, which will likely be much smaller: “Evil Dead” fans are known for their passion, and there’s reason to believe the core audience have already sampled this film. We’ll see if it’s enough to bring everyone back to the Necronomicon, though given the budget, the price is probably right.
Set to perform in a manner similar to the first film, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” posted a modest second weekend hold for what even its fans would note is a disposable blockbuster sequel. After that decent opening, boosted by the holidays and a savvy release schedule, expect the film to play like a decent programmer, skipping over $100 million by next weekend. While the domestic numbers might not be spectacular, the international take is considerably higher, with the possibility that the foreign numbers could threaten $300 million on their own, the global total of the first film.
But Paramount owns the domestic rights, with MGM handling overseas distribution, so the split isn’t so cut and dried. A third film is being promised, but this is starting to look like another recent Bruce Willis performer, “A Good Day To Die Hard”: a massive chunk of that forgettable piece of garbage’s box office came from the terribly undiscerning foreign audiences, offsetting an apathetic stateside reception. Action franchise films cost within the ballpark of $150 million or so these days, and this one, at $135 million (“reportedly”), is $45 million cheaper than the first film (again, “reportedly”). When you’re throwing around that sort of cheddar, it’s not a good look if your numbers grow weaker stateside.
“The Croods” is a success, no doubt there. Losing about a quarter of its audience from last week, it leveled off nicely as the bonafide best kiddie option on the marketplace. With killer overseas stats, this could soon look less like a generic hit, and more like a prospective franchise. Finally, something that Nicolas Cage can be proud to put his name on, and we’ll bet you had NO idea Cage was involved with this. Those who have followed Cage’s recent box office record understand there’s a definite reason for this. Say, do YOU have a pitch for a “National Treasure 3”?
3D re-releases continue to be a mixed bag, with seemingly surefire generational touchstone “Jurassic Park 3D” clocking in with numbers even lower than last year’s 3D twofer of “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace” and “Titanic 3D.” What’s interesting is the idea that stateside releases for these efforts is more of an obligation than anything else: the last two titles did bonkers box office overseas, a tradition “Jurassic Park” will follow. With $15-$20 million put aside for these 3D conversions (that’s seventeen “Paranormal Activity” movies, to put it in perspective), a modest marketing campaign is all that’s needed to reap decent profits. Plus, this essentially also serves as a backdoor promotion of sorts for next year’s “Jurassic Park IV,” so the purpose is twofold.
Usually Tyler Perry efforts fall off the Earth in weekend two, but “Tyler Perry’s Temptation” continued to play to its core spectacularly, and should cross $40 million domestic in the next few days. As noted last week, this guy’s movies are a veritable ATM machine, and no one (repeat: NO ONE) scores such consistent success, with small to manageable budgets and an extremely loyal, some might say ardent fanbase. It just barely stayed ahead of “Olympus Has Fallen,” which boasted an unusually solid third weekend hold, suggesting it’s something of a word-of-mouth hit for FilmDistrict. With a solid amount of change already in the coffers, 'Olympus' could cross $90 million domestic at the end of its run, a massive victory for the upstart distributor (and Gerard Butler, who really a needed hit).
The wind got knocked out of the sails for “The Host,” a prospective YA hit that most definitely didn’t. For every “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter” there are about five “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising,” and this was one of them, even with the magical “Twilight” association of writer/delusional typist Stephenie Meyer. “The Call” looks like its winding down a surprisingly solid run with a $50 million score, while “Admission” completed its third weekend of playing to theaters populated by a mixture of homeless people getting out of the cold and working stiffs looking for somewhere quiet to nap.
Meanwhile, in limited release, smaller theaters were doing some brisk business. In its second weekend before going wide, "The Place Beyond The Pines" pocketed $695,000 from 30 theaters with a $23k avg. Even inked and bleached out, Ryan Gosling sells. Meanwhile, in their debuts, Danny Boyle's "Trance" got firmly out of the gate with $136,000 and a $34k avg, while Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep" took $146,000 with a $29k average. Finally, in just one theater so far in New York City, Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color" $31,500 in numerous sold out shows. Until next week, the balcony is closed.
1. Evil Dead (Sony) - $26 million
2. G.I. Joe: Pew Pew Whiz Bang Pop (Paramount) - $21.1 million ($86.6 mil.)
3. The Croods (Fox/Dreamworks) - $21.1 million ($125.8 mil.)
4. The Pirates Eat The Tourists 3D (Universal) - $18.2 million
5. Die Hard 6: Scottish Secret Service Agent (FilmDistrict) - $10 million ($71.1 mil.)
6. Tyler Perry’s You’ll Spend The Entire Movie Waiting For Madea, And Then She Won’t Show (Lionsgate) - $10 million ($38.3 mil.)
7. Oz: You Only Went Because Your Kid Asked Nicely (Disney) - $8.1 million ($212.7 mil.)
8. The Host (Open Road) - $5.2 million ($19.6 mil.)
9. The Call (Sony) - $3.5 million ($45.4 mil.)
10. Admission (Focus) - $2 million ($15.3 mil.)