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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Box Office

The Grudge had an enormous opening, the third best October start ever, and any way you cut it, you have to give credit to Columbia marketing and what has become an unusual occurrence of open space for a genre film… a positive note that is quickly becoming the trademark of the studio. $23 million for Resident Evil 2: Apieceacrap on September 10, $21 million for The Forgotten on September 24 and now, with a month of basically dead horror/thriller genre space (Shaun of the Dead and Surviving Christmas don’t count), an estimated $40 million for The Grudge on October 22.

If your answer to this (unspoken) question is that Mila Jovavich, Julianne Moore or Sarah Michelle Gellar (recently returning to the Jewish pronunciation) is box office dynamite, you are a goof. But if your answer is that Scarlet Johansson in a tank top and shorts in a horror-tinged thriller will be her first real shot at being the lead of a $75 million-plus box office hit, you would be right, sir.

It is probably not a coincidence that Kill Bill, Vol. 2, Weekend 2 and the opening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre grossed $41 million together on the third weekend of October last year. The Ring & Ghost Ship, opening two Octobers ago to a combined $26 million, probably set up this progression more than any other title(s) did.

But again, give Sony credit. This is the biggest horror opening ever… the second biggest Japanese remake opening ever, led only by Devlin & Emmerich’s Godzilla… the best October chiller-thriller opening ever, but more so, the best without a major franchiseable element by 2.5 times, besting The House on Haunted Hill by more than $20 million and well ahead of such franchise releases as the aforementioned KBV1 and TCM2003.

Meanwhile, Surviving Christmas didn’t and the widened release of I Heart Huckabees was okay, but no better, managing a similar per-screen average as Shall We Dance’s second weekend despite being on one third the screens?

And in one Oscar-cautioning note… Vera Drake went out on 46 screens and overwhelmed no one… box office wise. Same with Being Julia on 26 screens. Yet both lead actresses are still likely to have busy awards seasons. And Sideways moved out on 4 screens to some less success than Huckabees did… yet I think the sense that this is a mainstream movie is growing and when Searchlight take it wide, the results should be a bit better. It is a delicate effort… but probably too delicate.

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15 Responses to “Weekend Box Office”

  1. martin says:

    sideways deserves to be a hit, whcih to me would be at least $20 million, then another $15 when Giamatti and possibly the picture get a nod. Based on this weekend’s numbers, that might be a stretch. Huckabees looks like its DOA. Grudge doing $40 mill. sort of came out of nowhere. it looked like a piece of garbage, apparently I’ve completely lost perspective on the marketplace. Team America looks like its going to die a quick death. Shall We Dance looks like it will do Serendipity numbers. Basically, its a fairly dull market. I think the adult Oscar crowd has yet to be tapped, and my hope is that Sideways will do it. How much marketing will that film need to get some legs? Will the Awards season get it some heat?

  2. Eric says:

    I Heart Huckabee’s is, as you say, DOA. I suspect this is because the movie is totally inaccessible to 99% of its audience.
    I’m not one to say that a movie should be dumbed down for mass consumption, but there sure needs to be an entry point, somewhere. Anywhere.

  3. BrotherhoodOfSteel says:

    Apieceofcrap? You should lucky I cant spawn Rick
    McCallum to ruin your Monday Poland, because I would
    do it based off of that comment alone! That needs
    to be a code in a future SW game just for the kids.
    I digress.
    The Grudge had SMG above the title, and not like EW
    did not hype it as the RETURN of BUFFY. Instead of
    the return of a poorly made horrour film. SMG has
    some STAR power. Not intergalactic, but BUFFY did
    really good across the pond, giving her more star
    power over there than most actresses in the US.
    Someone at FOX needs to start the ball rolling on a
    Buffy and Angel film. They are just leaving money lying on
    the table if not one exec breeches this idea at some point.
    OF course this makes SMG believe she’s even more of
    a star due to this openning and that she does not
    need Buffy. However, no actress has a tailor made
    part for her than SMG right now with Buffy.
    One last thing; why would anyone believe Sideways
    would be a mainstream movie? What mainstream does
    this movie play too? Put out adults and aging stars
    who are going on a wine tour, and might have an odd
    attraction to women who look like Virginia Madsen?
    Everytime I see a trailer. It just gives me the
    douche chills. Especially since the film comes from
    Alexander “Disconnect” Payne. Who has yet made a
    movie that made me feel all GOOD INSIDE.
    I hope the flick does not suck, but they would have
    to recast this flick with mainstream stars to make
    it seem like a “mainstream” flick to anyone outside
    of adults mentioned above.

  4. alkali says:

    Scarlet Johansson in a tank top and shorts in a horror-tinged thriller …
    I’m a bad person, but I’d probably pay $9.50 to see Scarlet Johansson in a tank top and shorts reading the zip code directory for two hours.

  5. bicycle bob says:

    i really doubt that anyone associated with huckabees expected to make more than 10 million with it.

  6. mrbeaks says:

    “I Heart Huckabee’s is, as you say, DOA. I suspect this is because the movie is totally inaccessible to 99% of its audience.”
    Actually, it’s fully accessible to its audience; the problem is that its audience is probably 1% of the moviegoing public, and I’m not talking about those lucky bastards who get the big tax breaks.
    So, yeah, HUCKABEES is going to stiff theatrically, but it’s already got a devoted cult following (I know of several people who’ve seen it three or more times), which should bode well for its eventual DVD release. O. Russell’s going to have to go more mainstream or stripped down the next time out, but, even as this takes the fiscal bloom off of Searchlight’s (to date) banner year, I betchya Peter Rice is happy to have made this film.

  7. StoneDog says:

    Let’s see… Blond actress, Japanese horror remake, creepy kid, slick production values… The Ring 1.5? Can’t blame Sarah Michelle Gellar for looking at Naomi Watts’ career path and saying, “I want a piece of that action!” Especially if it gets her out of having to do more Scooby-Doo sequels. But $40 million – that’s two weeks in a row that Brandon Gray has been way off in his Box Office Mojo predictions. I hope Gellar got points…

  8. John Crichton says:

    Another week, another blog that ducks the whole SHARK TALE box office tally. Apparently some of us told you had low balled this thing and now that we have been proved right it’s no comment time.

  9. BrotherhoodOfSteel says:

    Wow Mr. Beaks, that’s one hell of a succinct point
    you made. The members of Scorched Planet probably
    salute you.

  10. David Poland says:

    Peter Rice really seems to heart Huckabees and given that it will make its money back at some point, I’m sure that he is happy he made it too.

  11. raypride says:

    In an interview, I asked Sam Raimi if they were admitting to the budget of THE GRUDGE; he and Rob Tapert exchanged glances, and Raimi then said he wasn’t certain, but it could have been under $10 million. (Part of this is due to there being no unions and few work rules in Japan for film crews, another producer said.)

  12. martin says:

    hey gay pride, what did he say the marketing was on it? its a new business type these days, make it on the cheap then market the shit out of it. seems to work pretty well.

  13. Mark says:

    Russell doesn’t make movies to make blockbusters. Or Three Kings would have been a totally different movie.

  14. raypride says:

    I was surprised Raimi even commented on the production budget.

  15. Mark says:

    Pretty lame post “gay martin”. When you get out of the third grade and come up with some witty retorts maybe we’ll take you seriously. Ok, “gaymartin”? Ray, don’t let him get you down.

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