SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: The big story this weekend is the pre-Halloween box office — the horror, the horror of it all — and how Saw VI, which has been a disgusting but reliably performing franchise over the years for Lionsgate, was decimated Friday and Saturday by even lower budget Paranormal Activity — despite the Paramount phenom playing in 1,100+ less theaters during its 5th week of release. Twisted Pictures’ Saw has always opened as the #1 horror flick since its sequel, and above $30M for installments II–V, but not this sixquel. It debuted #2 with only $6.9 million Friday but sources tell me it went down -30% to #3 with just $4.7 million Saturday and an estimated $3M for Sunday from 3,036 theaters. It finished the weekend #2 with an underperforming $14.8M. I’m thrilled that it fell apart, finally, since it’s “Hard R”-rated for torture porn. (While I support a filmmaker’s creative freedom, I do hold responsible those moguls who make money distributing crap like this pic.) “Perhaps they should have made this one in 3-D instead of the next one. Oh please, tell me there won’t be a next one. Please,” a rival studio exec emailed me. Believe me when I say that torture porn flicks embarrass the industry which has been moving away from that and towards PG-13 fright fare.
On the other hand, Paramount’s Paranormal Activity received its “R” rating for language. The pic scored $7.5M Friday and is looking to be close to $8.6 million for Saturday and a weekend of $22 million. The cume should zoom to $62.4M. I can report that, as it expands for next Halloween weekend, the studio is starting to think the thriller has a shot at $100M. Which would make this the most profitable pic in modern Paramount history. After all, the project was acquired for a mere $300K, and the studio spent under $10M total on prints and advertising, “so this will be the best return Paramount has ever had,” an insider tells me. Amazing, since Paramount had been playing the movie mostly at midnight shows and in just a 100 or so dates. Then again, the hype has been so successful — right down to the claim that Steven Spielberg screened it and returned it in a trash bag.
Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book Where The Wild Things Are did $4.3M Friday, or a disappointing -65% from its “Spikers”-inflated opening a week ago. But Warner Bros hoped for and received a nice Saturday bump of $6.5M to bring the weekend to $14.4M for a -56% drop from last Fri-Sat-Sun. The studio now predicts the pic won’t get past $100M, difficult since the original budget of $85M ballooned past $100M because of the pic’s delay in post-production. At first, the film was financed 50% by Village Roadshow, and 25% each by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros, which also received its distribution fee and made back its P&A costs. But Warner Bros, on its own, opted to kick in moolah for reshoots and additional costs because Jonze’s first cut was so unacceptable.
With a production budget of $65M, Astro Boy is a wipeout. It debuted to only $1.8M Friday and $7M weekend from 3,014 venues, so it’s a big disaster for Imagi Studios. (Summit Entertainment is only the distributor so collects its fee.) The toon has been sold almost around the globe, but I’m hearing that the classic Japanese Manga character isn’t faring any better in territories there.
Relativity/Universal’s PG-13 Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant directed by Paul Weitz is based on the UK series of books. But it never got out of the gate, opening only #8 with $2.2M Friday and a $6.3M weekend from 2,754 dates in North America — or about half as much as the moviemakers dared hope. Despite a cult following among tweens and teens, this vampire tale didn’t catch lightning in a bottle like the Twilight Saga. I hear the production budget was a modest $40M, but even that doesn’t matter with such low grosses.
Fox Searchlight’s Amelia, in the words of one exec, “couldn’t break away from the Bio channel” with $4M from 818 runs and a mediocre per screen average.
Overall, it looks to be a $121M weekend but slightly down from last year, -9.3%, when High School Musical 3 opened to $42M and Saw V was $30M.
1. Paranormal Activity (Par) Week 5 [1,945 Runs] Wkd $22M, Cume $62.4M
2. Saw VI (Lionsgate) NEW [3,036] Wkd $15.5M
3. Wild Things (WB) Week 2 [3,735] Wkd $14.8M (-54%)
4. Law Abiding (Over) Week 2 [2,890] Wkd $12.7M (-40%), Cume $40.3M
5. Couples Retreat (Uni) Week 3 [3,074] Wkd $11M, Cume $78.2M
6. Astro Boy (Imagi/Summit) NEW [3,014] Wkd $7M
7. The Stepfather (Sony) Week 2 [2,734] Wkd $6.5M, Cume $20.3M
8. Vampire’s Assistant (Relativity/Uni) NEW [2,754] Wkd $6.3M
9. Cloudy/Meatballs (Sony) Week 6 [2,741] Wkd $5.6M, Cume $115.2M
10. Zombieland (Sony) Week 4 [2,447] Wkd $4.3M, Cume $67.3M