Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

January 22, 2013

Mom and Dad always liked you best.

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Kim Hollis: Ubiquitous actress Jessica Chastain finished in first and second at the box office, as the adoption horror movie Mama opened to $28.1 million over the three-day portion of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. What are your thoughts on this result?

Brett Ballard-Beach: This had the chance to break out because it was a PG-13 horror effort in January (a la The Devil Inside) so all those who couldn't get into TexChain3D were waiting for this, but as with The Last Stand (and even more so), the reviews were in the majority favorable, with one critic I follow and respect tweeting it as the best American horror film since Let Me In, particularly for following through to some sort of bleak ending. The trailers I have seen both punch up what makes it eerie and spooky, but also made it look a lot like many of the American horror films of the last half decade or so (contorted bodies, people on the ceiling, etc) so I am intrigued with all the positive buzz. Not sure how much Guillermo del Toro's name added, since it didn't do much for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. I like to imagine this was Jessica Chastain's doing. With a $15 million budget already made back twice over, this will be one of the big unexpected success stories of the year come December.

Edwin Davies: I bet she's really kicking herself for not demanding a role in Movie 43 so that she could make it a triple next week.

I think the main question that needs to be asked is whether or not Mama did so well because of Chastain or if it would have done well anyway. I think she probably added something to it, but considering how unrecognizable she is in most of the promos, I have to wonder whether people were really aware that she was in it until this last week or so. Otherwise, this is an above-average performance for an original horror movie that probably benefited from some creepy trailers and the PG-13 rating, both of which meant that it was enticing considering how quickly Texas Chainsaw (Massacre) burned out. Mama also had the huge advantage of not being utterly terrible, which probably helped bolster the numbers a bit. In short, I think there were a number of factors at play, but most likely the fact that it's a horror movie in January.


On an unrelated note, I saw the short that Mama is based on at a horror festival a few years ago and it was god-damned terrifying. This makes me both want to see the film to determine how well it translates and avoid it like the plague in case it translated too well.

Jay Barney: I guess my first reaction to this film has almost nothing to do with the actual take, which is pretty good, but with the fact there have been so many horror films released lately. Maybe I am just no longer a fan of the genre, but there certainly seems to be an availability of this type of product each week. We don’t even need to throw in A Haunted House, which can credit its own existence to the hack and slash craze on the big screen. So this week, Mama is the #1 film in America. Even though Texas Chainsaw 3D is out of the top ten, it was the champ two weekends ago There was a little bit of a pause during December, but prior to that films like The Collection, Sinister, Silent Hill Revelation 3D, Paranormal Activity 4, The House at the End of the Street, and The Possession all were available. These have been in theaters since late September, and that isn’t that long ago. You really can’t compare it to other genres in that the same type of moviegoer is probably going to these “horror films” of the week.

Winning a weekend is always impressive, and the all important math against the budget makes this a successful film by any formula. With only $15 million or so spent on this one, it has already made money and the first weekend is not even over. As with other films in the genre, this should have a pretty steep drop, but it appears scary films continue to bring in the coin. It is amazing how fast some of these films fall.

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