Weekend Wrap-Up

Horror Opposite Leads Halloween Box Office

By John Hamann

October 30, 2011

Good thing cats always land on their feet.

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For the last three years, dating back to 2008, Halloween has landed on a weekend, making things difficult for theaters and studios alike. Unlike Christmas Day, Halloween keeps moviegoers out of theatres, and delivers a downright scary day for all films that aren't horror movies. This year, with Halloween falling on Monday, studios could use this weekend to open a horror film, but with Paranormal Activity 3's record breaking debut last weekend, studios were wise not to. That leaves us with no new scares this Halloween weekend, and a bevy of polar opposites - a kids flick, a sci-fi film, and a drama opening at over 9,000 theatres to varying degrees of success.

What do you do when one of the year's biggest nights out takes drastically away from moviegoing? You struggle. In 2008, Halloween landed on a Friday. That was a glorious year, as High School Musical 3 was off 64% (and became a scheduling error of the historic variety), Saw V was off 68%, and opener Zack and Miri Make a Porno flopped with a $10 million opening. In 2009, Halloween was on a Saturday, and the late Michael Jackson's This Is It managed to open to $23 million (but one has to wonder how much was left on the table, considering This Is It was no one-weekend wonder). 2009 was also the first year for a Paranormal Activity film, it went wide a week earlier, and dropped only 22% to $16.4 million. 2010 saw Halloween on a Sunday, and Saw 7 in 3D opened to only $24 million, while Paranormal Activity 2 dropped 60% to $16.5million. The last time Halloween landed on a Monday was 2005. That year, Saw II opened the weekend before, grossing $31.7 million, and three other new films struggled, including The Legend of Zorro and Nic Cage's under-rated The Weather Man.


This year, things are completely different, and like the year High School Musical 3 faced off with Halloween on a Friday, I wonder if a scheduling mistake has been made. Our number one film is Puss In Boots, the DreamWorks made, Paramount distributed animated film. Puss in Boots limped into first with a gross of $34 million from 3,952 venues. It had a venue average of $8,603. There has been a lot of talk about how DreamWorks films have been opening as of late, and whether the shine has come off The House That Shrek Built.

DreamWorks Animation has struggled over opening weekend, but not over the long haul. Their last release was Kung Fu Panda 2, which opened to only $47.7 million last May, about $15 million LESS than the opening of the original three years earlier. Megamind preceded that one, and also struggled over its opening frame, grossing $46 million in early November. Shrek Forever After managed a $70 million opening, but that was $50 million off of the Shrek Before That, which opened on the same weekend. How to Train Your Dragon, though, was the film that started these troubles. Despite exceptional reviews and a kick-ass trailer, HTTYD still struggled over opening weekend, grossing only $43.7 million.

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