Sony Rules Again But Grudge 2 Disappoints

Weekend Wrap-Up for October 13-15, 2006 - Part One

By John Hamann

October 15, 2006

No one told me private school would be so creepy!

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Sony's Grudge 2 ruled the box office this weekend, as the studio enjoyed its 12th film of the year to come in on top. Unfortunately for the company, that's where the good news ends. The opening was much softer than the original and the horror flick was hammered critically. Other openers did the expected. They included Robin Williams' Man of the Year from Barry Levinson, WWE's The Marine, which had been on the shelf for two years, and One Night With The King from the new faith-based arm of 20th Century Fox.

Number one this weekend is The Grudge 2, Sony's latest Japanese-style horror flick. After the original Grudge opened to $39.1 million, expectations were high for a repeat or better with the sequel. This one seemed to have everything going for it – including an effective marketing campaign and a decent release date - so why did The Grudge 2 open to only $22.0 million this weekend? It had enough venues, opening at 3,211 theatres, giving it a decent average of $6,851. I also thought the marketing campaign was better than the opening indicates. They slowly built the marketing towards the release date, nicely switching up the TV ads as the release date approached, blanketing the market and creating big awareness. So what happened? I doubt that audiences are getting tired of bad movies (this one was 9% fresh at RottenTomatoes at the time of this writing). Could audiences finally be getting tired of these carbon copy horror flicks? Maybe. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning debuted last weekend to lower numbers than its predecessor, and while The Ring 2 made more than the original, it was a significant disappointment finishing with $76 million. The so-so opening for The Grudge 2 will make Saw III's opening very interesting when it debuts in two weekends, despite it not being a Japanese-style horror flick. The last Saw flick opened to $31 million, and now Lionsgate has to be wondering how their hottest franchise will perform.

For Sony, this is the 12th time this calendar year that the studio has distributed a number one film, but in reality, their 2006 slate hasn't been all that powerful. Some of those number ones have seen some huge drops in their respective second weekends, including When a Stranger Calls and Underworld: Evolution's huge 58% drops. Sony's only film over $200 million this year was a domestic disappointment in The Da Vinci Code, as its $217 million finish doesn't even put it into the top 50 movies of all time. My bet is that The Grudge 2 folds it in next weekend and this one fails to be Sony's fourth film to gross more than $100 million this year.

The runner up this weekend is last weekend's number one film, Martin Scorsese's The Departed, and there is some good news for the box office here. The Departed earned $18.7 million this weekend, dropping a decent 31%. Word-of-mouth is obviously good for Scorsese's latest as it held well despite its big take in its first weekend. In Boxofficeland, the bigger they come means the easier they can fall in their second weekend, but with this second frame, The Departed should be on its way to $100 million. Currently it sits with $56.6 million, but it will have to deal with more Oscar-bait when Marie Antoinette and Flags of Our Fathers open next weekend.


Third spot goes to Robin Williams and Barry Levinson with their comedy, Man of the Year. The political comedy grossed $12.6 million in its debut frame from 2,516 venues, giving it an average of $4,990. The opening was right where analysts expected it would be, as this is your typical Williams/Levinson performance. Reviews weren't kind to this one as 99 reviewers saw it and 80 reviews were rotten, leaving it with a 19% fresh rating. As this is a badly reviewed political satire, I highly doubt it will have much staying power.

Fourth goes to Sony's last film to open at number one, Open Season. The animated feature grossed $11.0 million and was off 30%. Flushed Away, the latest DreamWorks CG film, is still a few weeks away, so Open Season does have the playing field mostly to itself. Still, Flicka may steal some of its audience next weekend. Currently, Open Season has $59.2 million in the box office kitty.

Number five is Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which did the expected and chucked a large portion of its opening weekend audience. TCM: The Beginning grossed only $7.8 million in its second frame, off an expected 58%. The New Line release has now grossed $30.5 million and will be lucky to see $50 million.

Read Part Two



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