Monday Morning Quarterback Part One
By BOP Staff
September 13, 2005
We expect a porn star named Emily Rose to emerge any day nowKim Hollis: The big news story this weekend is obviously The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The movie earned an estimated $30.2 million for Screen Gems against a budget of less than $20 million. In addition, this is the third biggest opening ever in September after Sweet Home Alabama and Rush Hour. How shocked are you by this turn of events?
Tim Briody: Utterly and completely.
Joel Corcoran: I'm pretty shocked and surprised, yes. Given how poorly most of the horror movies have done this past summer, I think it was a big coup for The Exorcism of Emily Rose to do so well.
David Mumpower: Honestly, I am not very surprised. Tim's forecast undersold it, but I felt all along that this was an opening in the $25 million range. That $11 million number for Friday is damned fine debut for Screen Gems. It won't have legs, but it's already a moneymaker.
Reagen Sulewski: This was expertly marketed and had a strong hook.
Kim Hollis: I agree that the marketing was extremely well thought-out. It seemed creepy and the subject matter always looked like it would appeal to a fairly wide-ranging audience. Also, with the PG-13 rating, it had the chance to pull in the younger folks as well.
David Mumpower: That is right, Reagen. Exorcism films always do well. I remember the same level of surprise when the the Exorcist prequel came out. That piece of garbage was a complete reshoot with no selling point of which to speak yet it opened to $18 million. Emily Rose had the advantage of looking great.
Reagen Sulewski: I put about $10 to $15 million of its opening weekend to that creepy laugh in the commercials.
Tim Briody: I would credit the voiceover guy. It's the same guy who did White Noise. Somebody owes him a lot of money.
The Island: Exorcism would have made ten times as muchDavid Mumpower: This is that rare project that I expected to be huge from the moment it was announced. The story it is based on is simply extraordinary. Epilectic or demonic? You be the judge.
Joel Corcoran: That's a good point. But what is it about exorcism that is such a big draw? To me, the trailers and commercials didn't make the movie look that much better than Skeleton Key.
David Mumpower: I think that to a degree voodoo sneaks into the territory of exorcism. Psychological horror such as this penetrates deeper than the popcorn of slasher flicks.
Reagen Sulewski: Hey, it's tough to compete with The Devil as a villain. It's something elemental.
David Mumpower: A flashlight-bearing sexy teen getting an ax in the back is instantly forgettable (a strange idea to type but a valid one nonetheless). Having the sanctity of your body possessed by a demon...that's something altogether more fearsome.
Joel Corcoran: I think the religious overtones also might play into the popularity, at least a little bit.
Kim Hollis: And it's also something that has the ever so slight chance of possibly happening - at least for those who read the Bible.
Reagen Sulewski: Is there anything to the idea that the two most successful films about exorcism involve female victims? Would a possessed male inspire the same kind of fear and interest?
David Mumpower: That's a fascinating thought and one you probably should have copyrighted before mentioning here.
Joel Corcoran: That's a good question, Reagen. And I don't have a good answer.
Kim Hollis: I would think that possessed males would have a lesser impact. However, when you get the male Antichrist, whammo! For that reason, I do expect Omen 666 to be quite big next summer.
There's a reason BOP keeps approximately 73 attorneys on its staffDavid Mumpower: The other aspect of Emily Rose that I think strikes a chord is the fact that it's partially courtroom drama. It's a philosophical debate between facts and belief.
Tim Briody: Off the top of my head, I'd wager no on the male question. There's some appeal about the idea of a devout, innocent female being possessed that I don't think would be there if it were a male.
David Mumpower: What if the 40 Year-Old Virgin were possessed by the devil, Tim?
Tim Briody: Box office gold, I tell you!
Kim Hollis: It would be funny!
Reagen Sulewski: Horror sex-comedy may just be the next big breakthrough genre.
David Mumpower: That's what the guys from Broken Lizard thought.
Joel Corcoran: Think we can persuade Judd Apatow into directing a horror flick?
David Mumpower: Yes but only if we name it Conversations with Mark Brazell.
Reagen Sulewski: J'accuse!
David Mumpower: Joel, BOP attorney extraordinaire, could you be a dear and copyright both these movie concepts for us?
Joel Corcoran: Consider it done, David. Now we just need everyone visiting the Box Office Prophets Web site to sign this little non-disclosure agreement and ...
David Mumpower: This is exactly why people hate attorneys.
Joel Corcoran: And with reason.
David Mumpower: Present company excluded, of course... *winks at everyone behind Joel's back*
Tim Briody: A movie about an attorney being posessed would make no money, however, on account of its redundancy.
Joel Corcoran: I'm just going to sit here and ignore you all. Except for Kim, of course. She's nice.
Imagine how much The Blair Witch Exorcism would have madeKim Hollis: 57% of consumers for Emily Rose were under the age of 25. What drew droves of younger audiences to the film? Is it this generation's Blair Witch Project?
Tim Briody: In a sense, Kim, as I think the credit here goes to the marketing department.
Reagen Sulewski: Horror's always going to skew young, but I don't think it hurts that the subject of the film is an 18-year-old girl as well.
David Mumpower: What I like about the Blair Witch comparison is that neither of them has a bankable star. The hook is 100% concept/marketing.
Joel Corcoran: I'm not sure if it's going to be this generation's Blair Witch Project. I think that movie is in a class by itself. But I think the marketing effort coming right at the beginning of "back to school" season helped, what with everyone getting back to college and high school. A night out at the movies is still fun for the kids (unlike us bitter, jaded adults).
Kim Hollis: I really don't think it's all that similar to Blair Witch. That one had a much more viral marketing campaign and also was substantially less expensive (and certainly didn't have the quality acting). I would actually posit that the White Noise comparison mentioned earlier is dead on. A good hook, good marketing, and an accessible audience.
David Mumpower: The flaw with it is that Blair Witch was a box office anomaly the likes of which we will never see again. Emily Rose is not exactly breaking new territory as an exorcism horror film. Putting amateur actors in the woods and scaring them out of their minds...*that* was original.
Reagen Sulewski: Exorcism of Emily Rose was also similar to White Noise in that they tried to play on the suppossed 'truth' of their stories. Recall the trailer for White Noise that played like an informerical and compare it to this one's whathappenedtoemily.com.
Joel Corcoran: The Exorcism of Emily Rose seems more like Amityville Horror meets The Exorcist.
Tim Briody: Agreed. (And was Blair Witch really six years ago? We're all hideously old.)
David Mumpower: What I really like about Emily Rose is the casting. Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott above the title make it sound more like an awards contender. That's bold.
This year's suck vs. last year's suckKim Hollis: Box office was up 16% this weekend due to the unusually strong performance of a September opener. Do you expect this trend to continue over the next few weeks?
Tim Briody: Not next week; I don't see Just Like Heaven being a Sweet Home Alabama.
Kim Hollis: I think that Just Like Heaven and FlightPlan both realistically have a shot at $25-30 million each, actually. Both are tracking that direction at this point, certainly. And for what it's worth Just Like Heaven's trailer gets a *great* reaction from exactly the right people.
David Mumpower: Who exactly *are* the right people? The women from The View?
Joel Corcoran: I think the box office could be up again next weekend with Lord of War - that film seems much better than originally thought. And the trailers are very good. But after that... the rest of the month doesn't look that great to me.
Reagen Sulewski: I think there's a couple of solid weeks ahead and that it could go either way.
David Mumpower: Next weekend will see Lord of War and Just Like Heaven competing against last year's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Mr. 3000, and Wimbledon. The following weekend is First Daughter and the Forgotten versus FlightPlan and Roll Bounce. I don't see 2005 winning either of those battles.
If Joss Whedon were here right now, BOP would have sex with himTim Briody: Joel, you indirectly insulted Serenity, which means David and Kim will have to kill you now.
David Mumpower: This is a Joss Whedon-insulated zone. Check your snark at the door.
Reagen Sulewski: Just Like Heaven feels like a prank.
Joel Corcoran: I did not insult Serenity - I was talking about the box office in general. It's not my fault that the general population will not appreciate the exquisite beauty and impressive substance of Serenity.
Kim Hollis: I don't really know how much of a factor Serenity will be. I know how much I would *like* it to be, but I have to be realistic.
Joel Corcoran: I am looking forward to Serenity, by the way. Seriously, it looks like a great movie, but I don't see it having broad appeal and an exceptional return at the box office. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it pulls in $20 million or so.
Reagen Sulewski: Mark Ruffalo, if you needed money, just tell us!
Kim Hollis: Eh, Ruffalo's weird like that. He'll take a small part in a Michael Mann film and then turn around with a rom-com or two.
It's going to ruin BOP's month if Into the Blue gets great reviewsDavid Mumpower: Serious question: if Jessica Alba and Paul Walker had just made a porno instead of Into the Blue, wouldn't it make more money?
Joel Corcoran: David, even I would buy a Jessica Alba porn movie.
David Mumpower: Make love, not shark bait.
Reagen Sulewski: I dunno, I'm expecting multiple Oscars out of Into the Blue... no, no, I can't say that with a straight face.
David Mumpower: Bro, why you gotta harsh?
Tim Briody: As non-plussed as I am about next week's openers, what they're competing with is pretty weak, David. And I think we all agree on a massive fall off for Emily Rose. Competing with in terms of last year, I mean.
David Mumpower: Sky Captain did $15.6 million, Wimbledon did $7.1 million and Mr. 3000 did $8.7 million. Collectively, that's $30 million. I just don't see Lord of War and Just Like Heaven earning that combined.
Kim Hollis: Heh. I think Just Like Heaven does that on its own.
Reagen Sulewski: At which point, if I hadn't already done so, I lose all faith in society.
Joel Corcoran: I think Lord of War has the potential to do well, maybe playing to the same crowd as Wag the Dog.
Tim Briody: Lord of War's big selling point appears to be a Rambo joke. Pass.
It'll be Die Hard at an airport. Oh, wait.Joel Corcoran: But FlightPlan though... it just seems like I've seen Jodie Foster in that role too many times already.
Kim Hollis: There's an awful lot of people from our site alone who can't wait to see FlightPlan.
Joel Corcoran: I can't help that, Kim.
Reagen Sulewski: FlightPlan has a legitimately odd trailer. It makes the film look like two hours of Jodie Foster yelling crazily.
David Mumpower: I look forward to the ending of the movie where she tries to land the plane, all the while shouting, "I'm okay to go. I'm okay to go." (Apologies to folks who have never seen Contact.)
Kim Hollis: My big concern about FlightPlan is that it really does feel like second banana to Red Eye. With that said, though, I still think it's going to be massive. I'm sure we thought The Forgotten and other stuff of this ilk looked unoriginal and yet it always cleans up.
David Mumpower: It's Red Eye with a real star. I do think that the success of that film makes the timing here poor. Its release seems derivative even to the most casual of movie goers. Having said that, I still think FlightPlan is a $30 million opener.
Tim Briody: I think Red Eye may have stolen FlightPlan's thunder.