Horror Opposite Leads Halloween Box Office
By John Hamann
October 30, 2011
For a studio that has struggled with their last four films, why would one open Puss in Boots over the Halloween weekend? DreamWorks has always dug that post-Halloween weekend (they released Megamind, Madagascar 2, Bee Movie, and Flushed Away all over the first weekend in November), but the track record has shown that this isn't the best strategy. Madagascar 2 was the biggest opener of that crop, taking in $63.1 million over the November 7th weekend in 2008, but it struggled domestically after opening, barely earning three times the opening weekend gross. Like everyone is Hollywood these days, DreamWorks Animation continues to get bailed out by overseas grosses, as their films carry huge budgets (and risk), but always (and I mean always) get higher grosses overseas than from domestic audiences. While overall domestic grosses are dependent on opening weekends, overseas grosses don't reflect those opening weekends. How to Train Your Dragon, which opened to only $43 million, grossed $500 million worldwide. I mentioned above how Madagascar 2 struggled after its big opening domestically, but it still rang up $600 million in overseas grosses. Puss in Boots is going to hurt domestically because of this opening weekend; however, the worldwide cume will see minimal affect.
Why will it still be huge worldwide? It's a good movie and has voice actors that have seen big successes overseas. Puss in Boots is already a critical darling in North America (the film is 81% fresh at RottenTomatoes), as it seems to bring back some of the charm that was missing from the last dozen Shrek films. Then we have Antonio Banderas, whose performance in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger earned only $3.2 million in North America, but 10 times that overseas. The Shrek franchise itself is also a big player overseas, with overseas grosses for the last two Shrek films easily out-earning domestic grosses. Shrek Forever After earned $240 million domestically, and $514 million everywhere else. It's getting to the point where Paramount could skip the domestic rollout, and still make a huge profit on these films. That is now today's box office. Overall, Puss in Boots will be a domestic disappointment, but likely an overall winner.
Finishing second is Paranormal Activity 3, as folks watched and waited to see how much this one would fall. After opening to a blistering $52.6 million, the latest in the Paranormal franchise slid a hefty 65% to a still solid $18.5 million. Paranormal Activity has now replaced the Saw franchise as the cheaply made annual Halloween horror film – and let's face it, these are better for society than the torture porn Saw films. PA3 was made for $5 million, an amount this one had earned back after a single showing last Friday morning.
The three films together were made for a combined $8+ million (that plus is the $15,000 the first one cost), and the franchise is approaching the half-billion mark in combined grosses. The question now is how long can the franchise last – can they put seven films out like the Saw franchise did? So far, Paranormal Activity 3 has earned $81.3 million. It should have a strong Monday, and then really fold up the following weekend. Paranormal Activity 2 earned $65 million in 10 days prior to Halloween, and about $20 million in the 80 days of release that followed.