Old Timers No Match for Zombies and Super Bowl
By John Hamann
February 3, 2013
Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino are no match for the PG-13 version of The Walking Dead.
Those collecting Social Security got walloped this weekend at the box office, as Stallone’s Bullet to the Head and the Pacino/Christopher Walken/Alan Arkin flick Stand Up Guys barely registered a blip on the box office radar. The good news this weekend is Warm Bodies, the teen romance-slash-zombie flick, without much slashing. The only real competition for Warm Bodies was the Super Bowl, and the Summit flick with Nicolas Hoult (the boy from BOP-fave About a Boy) did nicely at the box office this weekend despite it. Everything else – save Silver Linings Playbook and the 17-weekend-old Argo – lost.
Our number one film of the weekend is Warm Bodies, the strongly marketed and well-reviewed young adult flick from Summit Entertainment. Warm Bodies actually got started on Thursday night, earning about a half-million from previews. This caught my interest, as it meant that the younger generation was dialed in to Warm Bodies, despite no real above-the-title names. As BOP’s Tim Briody reported yesterday, Warm Bodies had a stellar Friday, as it grossed $8.1 million. The only thing in the way of a $20 million opening was the Super Bowl, but the savvy schedulers at Summit placed this one well, as the only demographic not interested in the Super Bowl is young females, who were the obvious marketing target for this one. In the end, Warm Bodies earned $20 million from 3,009 venues, giving it a decent venue average of $6,655.
Of course, Summit Entertainment is not new to making movies based on young adult fiction, especially those where a monster captivates the female beauty. The studio earned about $1.4 billion from the Twilight films, and has obviously learned some lessons around film quality after the Twilight franchise was continually bashed for being awful. Warm Bodies is a different kettle of fish, as its reviews were way better than I imagined. Currently at Rotten Tomatoes, the zombie romance sits at 77% fresh, with a very strong 70 positive reviews out of a possible 91. Top critics, of course, are not as kind (that crew is far, far away from young adulthood) and provided 11 negative reviews out of a possible 28. Warm Bodies also earned a solid B+ Cinemascore.
Summit got a decent director in Jonathan Levine (the under-seen 50/50), who also adapted the script from a popular novel by Isaac Marion. They then got some better talent than the Twilight kids, hiring Nicolas Hoult (Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: First Class) to play the lead zombie, R. Hoult is going to be “the thing" for a number of years, as his upcoming resume will have Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road, an X-Men sequel, and all of them will be out in the next year and a half (and then a Warm Bodies sequel, most likely). Summit has been pushing the Warm Bodies concept for months through traditional media and the Internet, and the payoff is going to be decent. Warm Bodies cost only $30 million to make, and it should double that amount stateside. Also, don’t forget that the first Twilight film earned more overseas than it did domestically, as the original earned $200 million overseas, versus $192 million domestically.