Perfect Storm Catapults Box Office
By John Hamann
February 15, 2009
Despite the name recognition, the Friday the 13th franchise hasn't been huge at the box office. Its small successes have been amplified by tiny budgets. The first film, the 1980 original, was the biggest earner in the series for almost 25 years. The original Friday the 13th opened on May 9, 1980 to $5.8 million, and earned more than ten times its budget ($550,000) over its first three days. It became a phenomenon, taking in $40 million by the end of its domestic run and another $20 million overseas, all against that tiny budget. The second film opened less than a year later, improving on the opening with $6.4 million, but saw the overall domestic gross go from $40 million to $20 million (again, however, against a budget of $1.25 million). Over the next few films, opening weekends rose, but domestic totals never improved past the $40 million of the original.
The top opening weekend came with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (the fourth film), as that one implied Jason's death. The Final Chapter opened to $11.1 million over a weekend similar to this, as the 13th of April in 1984 was a Friday. The next five films that followed all opened between $6 and $8 million, and all finished at $20 million or below (but were still all highly profitable, with budgets never exceeding $5 million). Jason took nine years off between 1993 and 2002, but then leapt back onto the screen in 2002 with Jason X; however, the reboot didn't work with fans, and the franchise had it first money loser ever, as that one cost $14 million and made only $13 million domestically. It took Freddy Krueger to put the franchise back on the map, as Jason vs. Freddy surprised with a $36.4 million opening in August of 2003, finishing with $82.6 million against a budget of only $25 million.
That brings us up to today, as the Michael Bay reboot is back to using the old model for Friday the 13th movies - no-name actors in a no-frills production, with less comedy and more horror. Friday the 13th obliterated tracking estimates, which had it finishing at about half of where it came in this weekend. This is a huge win, and makes Bay's upcoming reboot of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise look potentially huge.
Finishing second is last weekend's number one film, He's Just Not That Into You, something I'm sure the stars of this one - Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Connelly - hear all the time. Thanks to the huge Valentine's Day bump (and no other reason) Not Into You has another weekend right at $20 million as it finishes the frame with a weekend gross of $19.6 million. That's off 29% from last weekend, and would have been a much bigger drop had Valentine's day not propped up the weekend. Considering the competition put out by Friday the 13th and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I think Warner Bros. will be happy with this second frame for this one; however, with the star power on display here, some may wonder why this isn't even bigger this weekend (blame Jason). Still, Warner Bros., has the top two films this frame, and obviously had this date circled on their calendars. He's Just Not That Into You has now earned $55.1 million after only two weekends.