The Sound of Chainsaws (and Money) Ring in the New Year
By John Hamann
January 6, 2013
What better way to indicate the end of the holiday season by releasing a Texas Chainsaw movie? At least they dropped "Massacre" out of the title. Happy New Box Office Year everyone!
Yes, the lucrative holiday season is winding down, leaving us our first horror release since November’s The Collection, but seeing how that grossed less than $7 million, the better example might be October’s Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (which gets my vote for stupidest title ever). Thankfully, the days of the instant-money horror flick are almost behind us; however, the titles that still make horror coin are those that are steeped in scary tradition, like the Friday the 13th films, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and the Texas Chainsaw films, just to name a few. These "name recognition" horror properties still bring in the kids on opening day, but there won’t be much more to it than that.
So, our number one film of the weekend is not a Christmas event film like Django Unchained, Les Miserables or The Hobbit. Instead, it is Texas Chainsaw 3D, the return of the torture porn franchise that has been dormant for seven years. Audiences were obviously hungry for something new, as Texas Chainsaw 3D took in a surprise $10.2 million on Friday night, on its way to a higher than expected weekend gross of $23 million. Lionsgate put the slasher flick out to 2,654 venues, and it earned a venue average of $8,666. Considering the 24% fresh Chainsaw picture cost only $8 million to make, any money made after next weekend (or sooner) should be pure profit for distributor Lionsgate and production company Twisted Pictures (Saw I-7).
The last Texas Chainsaw film, The Beginning, opened with $18.5 million in October 2008, good for second place. It went on to make $39.5 million domestically and another $12 million from overseas markets, all against a production budget of $16 million, or twice the cost of this latest chapter. The real money-film in the franchise was the reboot in 2003, simply called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A the time, horror was hot, and with Michael Bay producing, New Line was able to turn a $9.5 million budget into a worldwide gross that crossed the $107 million mark. Lionsgate made a smart move picking up this (at times) lucrative series, and with the choice of release date and scheduling strategy, may have launched itself a small franchise.
By opening the film this weekend, younger viewers (despite the film being rated R) would have had Friday off, and been able to gobble this one up. The weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) came in at 2.25, which indicates the Friday front-loading is exactly what happened. In 2007, a film called One Missed Call employed the same scheduling strategy over the same calendar configuration we have this year. It opened to $12.5 million against a budget of $20 million, and went on to earn $46 million worldwide. For Lionsgate, Texas Chainsaw 3D starts their year off perfectly, as it sticks to their business plan – make them cheap and reap the rewards.