Conan Brings Only the Lamentation of the Box Office
By John Hamann
August 21, 2011
Finishing second is not one of our new releases. Instead, it's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is now in its third weekend and still in the top two. Rise improved on its percentage drop compared to its sophomore session, as the Andy Serkis film earned another $16.3 million and dropped 41% (last weekend's drop was 49%). Rise is quickly becoming a dynamo for Fox, as the $93 million effort has now pulled in $133.8 million domestically, and is already approaching $100 million in overseas business. As an aside, I can't tell you how happy I am to see two films with largely positive reviews finish at number one and number two in late August. All too often we are left with The Expendables to close out the summer.
Speaking of bad films opening in late August, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is third this weekend, as Robert Rodriguez impersonates the villain in this film by making a stinker and serving it up to unsuspecting children. All the Time in the World earned an okay $12 million as it becomes the lowest opener in the franchise's history. This was billed as being in 4D – audiences were handed a scratch and sniff card for the fourth "D" (I wonder if they charged even more). One critic said he got a faulty card – all he could smell “was flop sweat and embarassment”. Spy Kids 4 had a critical embargo on it (really?), but at the time of this writing, it had four positive reviews and 20 negative, for a 17% fresh rating. Rodriguez and the Weinsteins spent only $27 million putting this one together, so it won't be a complete loss for the studio (the only loss goes to the parents and children paying for it).
Conan's lamentation is fourth this weekend, as the Ahnold remake doesn't pull in audiences. Maybe it was the title – Conan the Barbarian 3D (how do I spell anachronism?) - that put people off, but this Conan earned only $10 million from 3,015 venues. That gives the Barbarian a venue average of only $3,317, which means only tumbleweeds or parents sleeping after Spy Kids 4 were in attendance after Friday night. This Conan the Barbarian 3D cost Millenium Films over $70 million to make, and will be lucky to see a $30 million return from North American box office. I was never expecting to see overly solid reviews, but the overall theme of those reviews was that this was not even a "check your brain at the door: kind of movie. This is the second time now an Arnold Schwartzenegger sequel or remake has failed, as Terminator Salvation was a domestic failure in 2009 (I liked it), and this Conan didn't earn much more that what the Arnold version debuted to in 1982. According to the-numbers.com, the 1982 version opened to $9.5 million almost 30 years ago. How's that for progress?
The remake of Fright Night is fifth, as the remake that did it right earned the least. The remake of the 1985 fun fright fest took in only $8.3 million this weekend, and leads me to wonder if its just too early to start remaking '80s films. This seemed to have all the right ingredients – Colin Farrell as the neighborly vampire, Anton Yelchin as the teen he terrorizes, all packaged into a 74% fresh film (88% if you look at "top critics"). The marketing for Fright Night was not up to the effort that the filmmakers put into it, as Disney failed to sell this as either '80s nostalgia or current teen fare. Why did they fail to sell it? Fright Night cost less than $20 million to produce, so I would imagine it didn't fit the formula for a high level of marketing as there was little risk. Fright Night finished well away from expectations, and leaves me wondering why they didn't wait for the back-to-college audience for this one.