Weekend Wrap-Up for October 19-21, 2007

Seven New Films Fail to Stimulate Box Office; Night Rules

By John Hamann

October 21, 2007

It could get cold and lonely during those days on the set...

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A multitude of new movies assaulted the box office this weekend, and the results were mixed with one winner, a couple of mehs, and a couple of losers. Out this weekend were the new vampire flick 30 Days of Night, Fox Atomic's idiotic The Comebacks, Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, Rendition from New Line, the 3-D re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Things We Lost in the Fire featuring the great Benicio Del Toro, Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour, and the animated The Ten Commandments. Despite all the new product, the top flicks at the box office continued to lag behind last year's totals, and for the second weekend in a row, tracking was poor at best.

Our number one film of the weekend is Sony's 30 Days of Night, the new vampire movie from producer Sam Raimi, of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame. 30 Days of Night got off to a decent start, earning $16 million from 2,855 venues this weekend. The sub-$20 million opening for 30 Days of Night continues the box office drought for horror in 2007. Only two horror flicks released in 2007 have opened above $20 million - Rob Zombie's Halloween earned $26 million over its opening frame, and John Cusack's 1408, which was really a thriller, earned $20.6 million. In 2006, four horror flicks opened above $20 million, six opened above $19 million, and nine over $15 million. Horror films have declined quickly in 2007 as the market quickly became over-saturated due to low production costs for these types of films, combined with what were once big opening frames. Saw IV could add another $20 million open next weekend, but the new unfashionable term for these types of movies, torture porn, may even halve the opening of Saw III, which opened to $33 million last year.


Critically, 30 Days of Night was a star compared to its lesser horror brethren. At RottenTomatoes, 91 critics chimed in on 30 Days, and 48 found something to like, giving the Josh Hartnett movie a rotten rating of 53%. That's great for horror, and Users at RT agree, as regular moviegoers who post to the site have given it a 76% fresh rating, which is just what Sony is looking for. For Josh Hartnett, this opening should breathe a little life into a career that has seen some serious ups and downs. After some big earners earlier in the decade like Pearl Harbor ($59 million opening) and Black Hawk Down ($108 million domestic), many thought Hartnett was the next big thing; however, he followed up those hits with turkeys like Wicker Park ($12.8 million total) and Hollywood Homicide ($30.2 million finish, despite co-starring Harrison Ford). He then found himself hot again with Sin City ($29 million opening), in a small but memorable role, but followed that up with flops like Lucky Number Slevin, The Black Dahlia and Resurrecting the Champ. 30 Days of Night will be good for his career, especially if word-of-mouth propels this one over the Halloween weekend, but look out for that Saw in the next frame.

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