Weekend Wrap-Up for September 17-19, 2010

Four Openers Breathe Life Into Dead Box Office

By John Hamann

September 19, 2010

I'm prettier than Jennifer Garner, don't you think?

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Finishing second is the predicted winner, Easy A, which had a solid weekend as well. Easy A earned $18.2 million from 2,856 venues, and had an average of $6,373. Considering this is a high school movie without a huge name above the title, I think Screen Gems will be more than pleased with this result, for a number of reasons. First, this seemingly forgettable pic cost only $8 million to make, and was financed by Screen Gems itself and a small company called Olive Bridge Entertainment, which means this is easily another one-weekend-winner for the geniuses at Screen Gems. Secondly, Easy A is 85% fresh at RottenTomatoes, but is an amazing 96% fresh when looking at "top critics," or the ones people actually read or see. So, not only is this a one-weekend-winner, its also likely to have some legs, meaning this one could be a big windfall for Screen Gems. The studio is white hot right now, as last weekend it had the number one and number two pictures in Resident Evil: Extinction and Takers, which we will get into below. The biggest winner here may be Emma Stone, as in addition to Zombieland, the actress may become the next It Girl in Hollywood.

Third spot goes to Devil, the soft horror film (it's PG-13) from producer M. Night Shyamalan, which was picked up by Universal Pictures. Devil feels like it could have been big, but wasn't all that, as it earned $12.6 million from 2,809 screens. It had an average of $4,480. Like The Town and Easy A, though, this is going to be financially successful, as the production cost came in at only $10 million (Universal paid $27 million to distribute), an amount it earned half of on opening night. For some reason, this one was not screened for critics, despite (at the time of this writing) having nine positive reviews out of a possible 20. If your film isn't completely awful, why hold it back from critics who can help you with your marketing? This is a horror film, and should have been critic proof. Regardless, Devil will be a financial winner, but not more than that. It won't restore any magic to the Shyamalan brand.


Fourth spot goes to last weekend's winner, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and the drop was as bad as expected. The fourth film in the franchise earned $10.1 million in its second weekend, but was down a nasty 62%. This shouldn't be a surprise to those that follow the fortunes of this franchise. The last RE outing, Extinction, dropped 66%, the second film dropped 62% in its second frame, as did the first. It is important to remember that Sony's financial strategy with this franchise does not end in the US, so while its domestic take of $44 million so far versus a budget of $60 million does not look good, remember that it earned $42 million over its first overseas weekend. This franchise is like the zombies that star in it. It can't die unless the head is severed from the body.

Fifth goes to the most forgettable of our new releases, Alpha and Omega from Lionsgate. The 3D animated wolf story earned only $9.2 million from 2,625 venues, and likely would have done much worse had there been another kid flick in the top 10. Alpha and Omega was 15% fresh, and sadly contains Dennis Hopper's last performance. It ends a hot streak from Lionsgate that included The Expendables (which has now rolled over the $100 million mark) and The Last Exorcism ($40 million earned versus a $2 million production budget).

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