Ouija Wins; Wick Stronger Than Expected
By John Hamann
October 26, 2014
It’s the pre-Halloween weekend, so it must be time for a horror flick. However, it’s 2014, so the horror title this year is from Hasbro, and somehow we’ve gone from torture porn to toys.
Following a successful flood of R-rated product into the marketplace over the month of October, it’s almost Halloween, so one might expect Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or the producers of Saw to show up with a bloody hack-and-slash-type film to take advantage of the spooky season. Not this year, as the big film of the pre-Halloween weekend is Ouija, based on the Hasbro game that is, you know, for kids. So instead of blood and guts, we get Ouija, an 89 minute PG-13 “supernatural-thriller” from Michael Bay, Jason Blum and Universal. More confection than horror flick, this sounds worse to me than the idea behind Battleship, and we all know how that one went down.
On the bright side, also opening this weekend is John Wick, the return of Keanu Reeves to a wide-release, R-rated actioner – his first since the little seen Street Kings in 2008. This one has some solid reviews and strong buzz, but the question is whether folks would come out for Reeves after his flopping around since the first Matrix movie. Also worth watching are Bill Murray’s St. Vincent and Michael Keaton’s Birdman, both adding screens after limited release.
Our number one film of the weekend is, unfortunately, Ouija. I find it understandable that no studio wanted to drop a big horror title this weekend. The next frame has Halloween on a Friday, and horror or not, just about anything is going to implode next weekend, as people won’t be at the movies on Friday night. Because of this, Universal trots out Ouija this weekend, the $5 million board game supernatural-thriller that really only needed one day of release to see a profit (not including the ad spend). Ouija showed up and did its business, much like what my dogs do in the backyard. It earned $20 million from a subdued venue count of 2,858 after earning $8.3 million on Friday. It hit the low end of tracking and had earned its production budget back by Saturday afternoon. The advertising spend is of course a different story, as it likely cost Universal eight times more to market this one than it did to make it.
Ouija is not a very good film, or an offensive film, or a funny/bad film. It is horror for kids and earned a 10% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, with only 49 reviewers finding this one even worthy to write about (Gone Girl has 243 reviewers). One critic called it “as scary as an intense game of Candy Land”, which likely describes it very well. It earned a C Cinemascore (a couple of steps down from the B- Left Behind earned) and really should be seen by no one. If you think that this looks and smells like a Michael Bay film, you nailed it, and should know what to do.