Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

September 21, 2010

Manning face everywhere.

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Well, M. Night Shyamalan's name above the title is scary.

Kim Hollis: Devil failed to scare up a lot of business, earning $12.3 million for Universal. Do you think this is a good result for a no-name horror cast, or a disappointment for a movie with M. Night Shyamalan's name attached to it?

Josh Spiegel: I am voting for the former. I have not seen this, and couldn't care less about it. Considering that we heard, in various online forums, people laughed and/or groaned at the sight of M. Night Shyamalan's name in the trailers, this could've flopped a lot harder. That it made over $10 million is surprising. What's odd is that the reviews - which came after the film opened, as it wasn't screened for critics - aren't as terrible as I'd have thought. Either way, this movie could have done a third of this number, so Universal should thank their lucky stars.

Bruce Hall: I am left wondering what in the world M. Night Shyamalan finally has to do to finally turn his name into indisputable box office poison. Despite the snickering and sneering, it hasn't happened yet and his involvement still, in part, draws audiences to films.

That this movie did as well as it did is a plus for Universal. But I can't help but wonder - even though he did not direct this, as the producer/story creator, Shyamalan's name was prominently marketed alongside Devil. I wonder if we aren't beginning to see the end of diminishing returns for a once esteemed filmmaker.


Matthew Huntley: Bruce, I thought we reached the "diminishing returns" stage after Lady in the Water and The Happening came out, but then The Last Airbender grossed $100 million+ and now I feel like we're right back where we started. Ugh! Granted, that movie cost a lot more to produce, but still, it's a sign M. Night's name still has some meaning with moviegoers.

To answer Kim's question: yes, I do think this is a good result for Universal, not only for the reasons Josh and Bruce laid out, but also because the movie only cost $10 million to make. It's sure to find more of an audience on the home market, and with Halloween coming up, it might stick around long enough to gross three or four times its budget. Airbender's dismal reception (despite its decent box-office return), and therefore Shyamalan's name, may have turned some people away, but there's probably a healthy size audience out there still curious to know what he'll do next. That audience is enough to secure a double-digit opening, which is perfect for low-budget horror movies.

Shalimar Sahota: Given that it was made on the cheap for only $10 million, this has got to be seen as a good result. However, because of Shyamalan's attachment to the film, I haven't noticed a lot of buzz for this. Having seen it, I thought it was generally good, with a payoff that actually delivered. In this case, screening it to critics might have helped for a slightly better opening. For director John Erick Dowdle, he previously took on the horror remake Quarantine, which finished with $31 million. I imagine Devil could finish up with around the same.

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