Super Bowl Frame Breeds Ugly Movie Weekend

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 2-4, 2007

By John Hamann

February 4, 2007

Look out, Bears fans. This man will make or break you.

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For the third straight frame, the news was ugly at the box office. Overall, numbers were dismal, off more than $20 million when comparing this year to last year. The box office was so slow (how slow was it?), that the two disgustingly bad openers both managed to pass the $10 million mark. The debuting dogs this weekend were horror flick The Messengers from Screen Gems, and the comedy Because I Said So from Universal, which, from what I hear, played more like horror.

The number one film of the weekend is The Messengers, another "put a child in danger" horror film, designed to draw the female moviegoer away from the Super Bowl. The Messengers opened to $14.5 million � more than it had any right to, and more than most prognosticators were looking for. The Screen Gems release opened on 2,528 venues and had an average of $5,736. As BOP's Tim Briody wrote yesterday, The Messengers opened to $6 million on Friday night, but then had to face the Super Bowl on Sunday, which cut off its opening weekend legs. It had a dreadful internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.54 � which may actually say more about film quality than its competition. Critics murdered the Pang Brothers picture, with only five critics at RottenTomatoes liking it enough to give it a thumbs up.


Could the shine be coming off these awful horror movies? A year ago over the same weekend, When A Stranger Calls fell into a $21.6 million opening weekend, and also had to face off against the biggest football game of the year. Last weekend's horror entry, Blood & Chocolate, tanked badly, opening to only $2.1 million. Remake Black Christmas is another supposed fright-fest that failed to scare (and engage audiences), as it grossed only $16.2 million since opening on Christmas Day. Even sequels aren't safe. The Grudge 2 opened to just over $20 million, and couldn't even double that score over its run, as it finished with only $39.1 million in domestic sales. Audiences are talking to you Hollywood � these types of films may be financially viable, but even the kids are starting to figure out that these movies are crap. This opening may leave a lot of room for Hannibal Rising, which opens next weekend.

Finishing second is another large turd laid at movie theatres this weekend in Because I Said So. This Universal flick is a stab at bringing out the female audience over Super Bowl weekend (because you know that men don't leave the house all weekend because of the Big Game). Sadly, the ploy worked to an extent. Despite a 7% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes, Because I Said So managed to gross $13.0 million this weekend from 2,526 venues. It had a venue average of $5,146. I don't really blame you, North America. This one had a decent cast (Diane Keaton, Lauren Graham) and a venerable director (Michael Lehmann of Heathers fame) and you didn't have a lot of strong mainstream choices to begin with. Hopefully this one dies a quick death, and doesn't show chick-flick/rom-com legs.

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