Audiences are Paranormal but not Cross
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
October 21, 2012
The more interesting discussion involves procedural fatigue. We ask that you pause for a moment and close your eyes (well, after you’ve read the next couple of sentences). Count in your head how many procedural television shows you can name. There are the alphabet programs such as CSI and NCIS as well as their spinoffs. There are the Law & Order spinoffs that feel like they comprise 10% of the network schedule over the past decade. And there are the “fun” murder investigation programs such as Hawaii Five-0, Bones and Castle.
Death is perhaps ironically the life blood of network television these days. If someone can watch ten hours of the premise for free every week, why would they pay to watch Alex Cross? The only people who would consider this fall into the subsets of Tyler Perry fans, James Patterson fans, and aimless date night couples. Peter Jackson accepted the same fate when The Lovely Bones earned a paltry $44.1 million. Alex Cross will presumably finish short of that total, guaranteeing its status as one of the purest box office disappointments of 2012.
Before we shed too many tears for Alex Cross, however, we should note that the movie is by all accounts dreadful. Only 12 out of 92 critics at Rotten Tomatoes enjoyed it. Remarkably, none of the 30 top critics gave Alex Cross a passing grade, giving it the rarest of rare 0% fresh rating in this category. The only good news for Alex Cross is that it features a modest $23 million budget. So Lionsgate could still turn a profit on this if it fares well overseas. If not, Alex Cross will be a critical and financial failure that could impede the chances of further James Patterson procedural adaptations in the short term. The author’s young adult series, Witch and Wizard, should be the focus of movie projects in the interim.
A pair of new releases last weekend comprises the sixth and seventh place entrants this weekend. Sinister falls from third to sixth place; it grossed another $9.0 million in the process. The 50% drop would ordinarily be solid for the second weekend of a horror film. For this particular frame, it represents the worst drop in the top ten, which speaks to the impeccable quality of the titles in release right now. Sinister has a running total of $32.0 million, spectacular for a $3 million production.
Seventh place belongs to last weekend’s disappointment, Here Comes the Boom. The Kevin James comedy fell an impressive 28% to $8.5 million. With $23.2 million in the bank after 10 days, the $42 million production has an outside chance at breaking even now. This is a startling turnaround after last weekend’s lackluster debut.
Rounding out the top ten are Pitch Perfect, Frankenweenie and Looper, all of which showed solid holds. Pitch Perfect, the choir competition comedy featuring Anna Kendrick, earned $7 million, down only 24% from last weekend. After wisely choosing to platform this film in order to earn word-of-mouth, Universal can be very pleased with its $45.8 million domestic total to date. Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie cannot claim similar success, as it had a low debut to start with and is now down to $4.4 million for the weekend. Its decline was 38%, one of the bigger drops in the top ten. The animated passion project now has a running total of $28.3 million, and has to be considered a disappointment for Disney. Finally, Sony’s science fiction thriller Looper declined only 32% from last weekend to $4.2 million. Its domestic total is $57.8 million, which compares quite positively to its production budget of around $30 million.
Combined revenue for the top 12 this weekend totaled $123.1 million. This represents an increase of 12.5% from the same weekend in 2011. The noteworthy aspect is that $52.6 million of the $109.4 million last year came from Paranormal Activity 3. With Paranormal Activity 4 grossing $22.4 million less than its predecessor, the rest of the top 12 has a revenue increase of $36.1 million or $3.3 million per movie on average. We have one of the deepest mid-October movie rosters in the history of the industry.