Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

October 14, 2014

We don't know what to believe anymore.

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Kim Hollis: Dracula Untold, a movie Universal was hoping would restore their legacy as the monster movie studio, debuted with $23.5 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?

Edwin Davies: It's not the disaster that it could have been (that quote is free for anyone who wants to stick it on a Dracula Untold poster) but it's far from being a success. For a biggish budget action/horror film (that's also not so secretly a superhero origin story) it's only decent, but as the opening shot in Universal's attempt to create their own Marvel-style interconnected universe but with monsters it doesn't bode well for their future plans. It could still recoup most of its $70 million budget at home and hope that overseas audiences cover the marketing costs, but it looks like the best the studio can hope for is for Dracula Untold to break even.

Matthew Huntley: Given the lackluster trailer and exhausted vampire-movie genre, I didn't expect Dracula: Untold's opening to be this high. It's mildly impressive, sure, but seeing as though the movie also cost $70 million to produce and probably another $35 million to market, it's probably not enough for Universal to seriously consider restoring their monster movie series, or perhaps with not as much financial investment. The movie suffered expectable declines as the weekend progressed, which indicates people either aren't liking what they're seeing or the fan base is limited/front-loaded, or a combination of both. It may stick around long enough to top $50 million or so, but I'm betting the studio is going to take a loss on this.

Felix Quinonez: I think the opening is better than it had any right to be. The movie looked terrible and the marketing was all over the place. It obviously isn't enough to justify the plans that they had for building an "universe" but it could (should) have been worse.


Bruce Hall: "We're going to do the same thing Marvel did, and we'll do it better!" I'll bet that was the pitch, and clearly nobody in the room was able to see how uninspired an idea that is. I tend to think that Universal underestimates the nostalgia everyone feels for their ancient pantheon of monster films. But I also think there's the nugget of a good idea here. I just think that it would have been a better idea to forge an independent path and embrace them as horror characters.

What makes monsters fascinating is what you don't know about them at first. The fun is in being introduced to them as myths and lifting the veil over time. This could have been a great opportunity to take inspiration from something that worked and do something new with it. Instead I suspect audiences in general weren't sure what to expect from Dracula: Untold and just stayed away. That said, I have to say I'm impressed with as well as it did.

I'm not sure if this is the kind of failure a la The Golden Compass, where you just quietly walk away whistling and hope nobody remembers it at all. But it's definitely not the kind of result that has you confidently green-lighting a sequel before sunrise Monday. Something tells me Universal doubles down on the idea that its too early to give up on such a big idea. Time will tell.

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