Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

October 15, 2006

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They'd probably be more freaked out if a small, creepy child was roaming their halls and making weird screamy noises

Kim Hollis: The Grudge 2 opened to $22 million. This amount is barely half of the $39 million the original film made in 2004. Should Sony be pleased or freaked out?

Reagen Sulewski: Like the first one, this was made for next to nothing. So, while it's a somewhat worrying sign for the franchise and J-horror in particular, they could halve it again and still be fine.

David Mumpower: The budget is a reported $20 million, so there is no cause to jump off a building or anything. I can't help but feel that consumers always viewed the second film starring Amber Tamblyn as a lesser project than the Sarah Michelle Gellar anchored original. Gellar's low-profile presence in part two makes the entire project scream straight-to-video to me.

Joel Corcoran: I think Sony should be pleased, given the shift in popularity of films in the horror genre over the past two years. We've gone from the school of moody-horror-film-with-blue-lighting-and-girls-with-long-wet-black-hair to pure and utter blood, gore, and torture. So I think winning the box office and recouping production costs right off the bat should be considered a victory (even a pyrrhic one).

Kim Hollis: $39 million for the first one was a stunning total in the first place. I do think that there is some horror fatigue recently, which accounts for both The Grudge 2 and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning performing worse than their predecessors.

Tim Briody: They're smiling on the outside, as any studio with the number one film should. Inside they're freaking out at the big drop from Grudge to Grudge 2.

David Mumpower: Tim's point is the one I find most notable about the entire situation. This is The Book of Shadows outcome for Sony. They'll make money but they've lost the intrinsic value of a solid franchise.

joel Corcoran: I think they're freaking out over how to re-orient their horror film offerings, Tim, not necessarily over this one film.

Coming in October 2027 - The Grudge 15: The Kid Is In His 30s and Still Needs Vengeance

Kim Hollis: Really, though, with the exception of the Saw franchise, how often do horror films really hold up box office wise from sequel to sequel? Scream (1 to 2, anyway) is the only one I can think of.

Joel Corcoran: I think you have to go back to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise in order to find one, Kim.

Tim Briody: I think it severely reduces the odds of a Grudge 3, unless they go the Lionsgate route and make it for $76 dollars. Scream (1 to 2, anyway) is the only one I can recall offhand.

David Mumpower: I wouldn't go that far. After all, horror is the one genre where a premise may get run into the ground without the audience ever completely abandoning it. For whatever reason, pasty-faced, frail-looking children strike a chord with the horror crowd. As such, there is always going to be a little bit of money available here. But Sony has killed a $39 million opener's legacy with this result.

Kim Hollis: It doesn't get abandoned - but people become willing to wait for video.

Reagen Sulewski: I think this has a lot to do with expectations here. The first one was a bit of lightning in a bottle. You can't expect that performance to repeat itself. So three or four times the budget is a pretty reasonable result.

David Mumpower: I don't think it reaches even three times the budget. That internal multiplier is in the 2.2 range. Even with Halloween propping up all horror titles a bit, $65 million strikes me as overly ambitious.

Reagen Sulewski: We can add on the foreign money too, but the point stands. It makes money, which is a win anyway you count that.

Is Sarah Michelle Gellar still married to Freddie Prinze Jr.?

Tim Briody: You think Sarah Michelle Gellar was actually a draw for Grudge 1?

Reagen Sulewski: I'd say it's a sum of the parts beng more than the whole.

Kim Hollis: I think more so than Amber Tamblyn, yes. But I think more importantly that the concept seemed fresh and creepy and attracted teen girls at the time.

David Mumpower: I don't see her as a draw in a large way; however, I do see her absence in a lead role in Grudge 2 as creating a sense of a lesser quality production. Ali Larter in the Final Destination franchise is the only time I can remember audiences overlooking that in a major horror franchise.

Tim Briody: Putting her in the advertising of Grudge 2 did scream of a little desperation to me, actually.


I'm sorry, The Grudge 2, but our timing is just off right now. Maybe we'll have a chance at a meaningful relationship later.

Kim Hollis: Do you consider The Grudge more of a well-timed, well-marketed film, or is The Grudge 2 more of a mismanaged project?

Reagen Sulewski: The first thing. These kinds of trends can turnover in two years easily, especially when you're targetting the youth market.

Reagen Sulewski: It's also helpful to remember that The Grudge was really not that good.

Tim Briody: I think it had lousy timing. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was just out last week, Saw III is coming in another two. That's a little too much saturation.

Joel Corcoran: Yep. I think Reagen is right. I think the people behind The Grudge did a great job of anticipating, or even creating, the audience for the film.

David Mumpower: More than anything else, I consider it to be a blatantly mercantile project. There was not a good idea for another film yet, but the project was pushed forward anyway. Sony wanted to make a buck, just as any studio does on any release. The key here is that they rushed into it in an ill-advised manner and were never able to convince consumers that their follow-up Grudge film was anything other than sub-standard.

Kim Hollis: I do think they marketed the sequel as well as they could, honestly. The trailer was creepy (if perhaps overly loud) and it should theoretically have attracted people who like that sort of thing. Trouble is, that sort of thing is losing its cool cachet.

Do you like scary movies?

Kim Hollis: Are consumers simply tired of horror films?

Joel Corcoran: I don't think the public is tired of horror films at all. I just think that a different style of horror film is becoming more popular.

Reagen Sulewski: I don't think that's true. You just have to give them something sort of original.

David Mumpower: We reached the saturation point about three years ago, but it's always been the most bulletproof genre in cinema. The problem new horror films face is the same issue that hair metal bands had in the 1980s. There might be three or four innovators, but they have been overwhelmed by two dozen generic clones. And all of those clones suck. For every unique concept (Saw, The Grudge and Hostel), there are ten that serve no purpose. That's hard to overcome.

Joel Corcoran: The Scream films brought back the "evil serial killer" style of horror film, then the Japanese remakes became popular, and now we're fully into the blood-and-torture style of horror film. And in another year or two, we'll move onto the next popular horror subgenre.



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