Warner Bros./New Line Cinema’s reboot of 26-year old franchise A Nightmare on Elm Street easily took number one this weekend, grabbing $32.2 million at 3,332 theaters – further evidence that if a studio wants to breathe new life into a dusty horror franchise, they should hire Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company.
“With any sequel you have a fanbase. The question is how do you reach new consumers,” says Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman about how the studio hooked a younger crowd equally split by males and females. “We had a contemporary campaign."
The first weekend for Elm Street slots behind the tremendous bow of Dunes’ February 2009’s Friday the 13th, which made $40.6 million in its first three days. Among the opening B.O. annals for the Nightmare on Elm Street chapters, the latest installment follows Freddy vs. Jason, New Line’s 2003 hybrid with the Friday the 13th character, which stabbed $36.4 million. Keep in mind that was an August opening, while Friday the 13th bowed over President Day’s weekend.
Top Ten Box Office Chart on jump.
Elm Street’s returns are quite high for a horror film playing in the April-May corridor. The last blood-letting title to jump out was 2005’s The Amityville Horror which bowed to $23.5 million, also a Platinum Dunes production.
In terms of the drops that are often associated with horror films in their sophomore frames, Fellman adds that “it’s inherent to the genre. The audience who wants to see these films come out early. The way to prevent any downside is to keep your budget down.” Elm Street should easily see a profit given its $35-million negative cost.
Producer Bay likes to nurture and catapult young filmmaking talent such as German filmmaker Marcus Nispel, who turned The Texas Chainsaw Massacre redux into a cash cow for New Line (total B.O. $80.6 million). Nispel is now at the helm of the new Conan the Barbarian. Music video director Samuel Bayer is the latest Bay protégé to reap career spoils from today’s Elm Street success.
In an attempt to cater to the underserved family market, which may have already overdosed on multiple viewings of How to Train Your Dragon, (weekend take: $10.8 million, in second place), Summit Entertainment rolled out the PG-rated Furry Vengeance to less than stellar results, chalking up $6.5 million in fifth place from 2,997.
While the media has kicked Brendan Fraser around, pointing out how this film marks his career low, both in terms of box office and prestige, the actor isn’t out of his element: Fraser hit his B.O. stride with family films, i.e. 1997’s George of the Jungle which made $105.7 million. Not to mention, Fraser has seen worse: remember the box-office opening for Universal’s big-screen adaptation of cartoon franchise Dudley Do-Right? That crashed with a $3 million bow and a $10 million domestic cume.
At $35 million, Furry is essentially a low-budget title for Fraser compared to the $100 million-plus Mummy chapters he’s often associated with at the multiplex. Furry earned a B+ in its Cinema Score, drawing a heavy family crowd with females dominating at 57% over males. The film was co-produced and co-financed by Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi.
At one point six years ago, Furry was perceived as a project that would segue “The Daily Show” correspondent Steve Carell to box office stardom – that’s before The 40 Year Old Virgin changed his career. Carell soon abandoned the project. Fraser attached himself to Furry in January 2009.
CBS Films’ Jennifer Lopez film The Back-Up Plan eased an estimated 41% in its second frame, a decline that’s in the range of the actress’ previous romantic comedies such as 2005’s Monster-in-Law (-38%) and 2002’s Maid in Manhattan (-43%). Plan landed in fourth with $7.2 million.
Top Ten Box Office Chart
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Warner Bros./New Line): $32.2 million in its first weekend at 3,332 theaters. $9,665 theater average. Domestic total: $32.2 million.
2. How to Train Your Dragon (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $10.8 million down 30% in its sixth weekend at 3,426 theaters. $3,160 theater average. Domestic total: $192.4 million.
3. Date Night (Fox): $7.6 million down 27% in its fourth weekend at 3,093 theaters. $2,457 theater average. Domestic total: $73.6 million.
4. The Back-up Plan (CBS Films): $7.2 million down 41% in its second weekend at 3,280 theaters. $2,207 theater average. Domestic total: $23 million.
5. Furry Vengeance (Summit): $6.5 million in its first weekend at 2,997 theaters. $2,169 theater average. Domestic total: $6.5 million.
6. The Losers (Warner Bros.): $6 million down 36% in its second weekend at 2,936 theaters. $2,044 average. Domestic total: $18.1 million.
7. Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.): $5.98 million down 33% in its fifth weekend at 2,737 theaters. $2,185 theater average. Domestic total: $154.0 million.
8. Kick Ass (Lionsgate): $4.45 million down 52% in its third weekend at 2,542 theaters. $1,750 theater average. Domestic total: $42.2 million.
9. Death at a Funeral (Sony/Screen Gems): $4 million down 50% in its third weekend at 2,271 theaters. $1,761 theater average. Domestic total: $34.8 million.
10. Oceans (Disney): $2.6 million down 57% in its second weekend at 1,210 theaters. $2,166 theater average. Domestic total: $13.5 million.