Weekend Forecast for April 30 - May 2, 2010
By David Mumpower
April 30, 2010
Before we get started with this week’s forecast, let’s clear up an overstated misconception. Hollywood is not out of new ideas. Writers have plenty of them. They are not, however, determined to be marketable once the ideas reach committee and a swarm of soulless suits reject them out of hand in favor of Battleship the Movie. Keeping this in mind, this is the time when we discuss the triumphant return of Freddy Krueger, a topic that gives those of us who were talking box office back in August of 2003 a strong sensation of déjà vu.
At the start of the decade, the next big thing had been determined to be North American adaptations of Asian cinema. After we’d had our fill of those, there was a brief strategy to update established properties by pitting them against one another, with Freddy vs. Jason being the prototype for this philosophy. After the movie opened to $36.4 million (an inflation-adjusted $45.3 million in 2010 ticket pricing), many more variations on this theme were expected. Unfortunately, the lawyers and bean counters got involved. The problem with a joint licensed project is that revenues must be shared. Putting this in terminology the average BOP reader will understand, hookers were forced into business with pimps and it was not the most satisfactory of symbiotic relationships. Ergo, a lot of rumored projects such as Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash never got off the ground, save for a comic book face-off.
A lot of ill will was created in the process, forcing studios to reevaluate their own properties, thereby making the only determination that ever matters in our industry: how to maximize profit. Two months after the release of Freddy vs. Jason, something noteworthy happened in our industry. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the shining definition of cult classic, was updated for modern audiences. Starring soon to be mega-famous Jessica Biel, the movie opened to $28.1 million, more than the original earned in its complete domestic run. Dollar signs flashed in the eyes of execs at every studio and they stood up and took notice even more when Zack Snyder directed a white-hot adaptation of Dawn of the Dead that earned almost $100 million worldwide. Suddenly, long dormant properties looked like the new big thing and yes, the irony of that statement was lost on all involved.
Over the past few years, several semi-established horror titles such as Last House on the Left, The Stepfather, My Bloody Valentine and The Hills Have Eyes have all made mostly triumphant returns to the cineplex. Halloween, the bronze medalist in the Horror Movie Olympics, has also garnered two different releases, both of which did moderately well. But the two most important horror properties of the past 30 years are unmistakable, the ones that feature the aforementioned Freddy and Jason. When Mr. Voorhees had a remake announced, it was only a matter of time before Mr. Krueger would follow suit.
The question becomes whether Nightmare on Elm Street can avoid the overall fate of Friday the 13th, whose 2009 release became the new textbook definition of a one day wonder at the box office. It earned a massive $19.3 million on its opening day in theaters before flaming out at a historic pace, finishing with only $65.0 million domestically. A full 30% of the movie’s final take was accrued on its first day in theaters. That is epically bad word-of-mouth. The good news for the folks behind Freddy Krueger’s 2010 appearance is that the first day of Friday the 13th box office demonstrates that there was tremendous demand for the remake. Had the filmmakers not let the fans down by delivering a critically reviled, fan rejected product, we would be talking about the rare horror movie that approached and perhaps even surpassed $100 million.