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Weekend Wrap-Up for Friday, August 31 - Monday, September 3, 2007

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

September 3, 2007

Why does no one ever trick-or-treat at this house?

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For decades, conventional wisdom in Hollywood was that Labor Day weekend was a terrible time frame to open a movie. So strong was the perception that it became self-fulfilling prophecy. Only the dregs of the release schedule were vanquished to the last four days of summer. Any title slotted in this time frame was doomed to failure with no exception. With summer winding down, consumers who are otherwise willing to go to the local cineplex are presumed to be involved in other activities such as picnics, barbecues, family gatherings and trips to the beach. There is only so much nice weather left in the year, and people want to capitalize on the result. This presumably limits their desire to go see a movie.

This philosophy changed slightly with the release of Jeepers Creepers in 2001. The horror title earned $15.8 million over the long holiday. While this might seem like a paltry sum to most, it is what passed for a Labor Day weekend success story only six years ago. In the time frame since Jeepers Creepers, two other titles have done what would be described as well on this weekend. Jeepers Creepers 2 earned $18.4 million in 2003, then Transporter 2 earned $20.1 million in 2005. These titles had four-day venue averages of $5,879 and $6,087 respectively. Those are "good" numbers for Labor Day weekend.




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Halloween, the 2007 remake of the infamous 1978 horror film, opened over the Labor Day long holiday. Its performance is best described as well beyond good. The title is estimated to have earned $31 million over four days. It has not only smoked Transporter 2 to become the largest Labor Day opening of all-time, it has also put up a performance that almost matches the combined totals of the two Jeepers Creepers films. Those are two of the three best prior Labor Day performances prior to this weekend. Some may argue that in this day and age, $31 million is not that big a deal. Given the context above, it's safe to say that they would be seriously underselling what has happened at the box office this weekend. Halloween has just done something strikingly impressive by proving that a quality title launched on Labor Day can be a strong performer.

The success of Halloween is a huge win for goth rocker Rob Zombie. His prior two horror releases were both gore-fests. House of 1000 Corpses opened to $3.5 million on its way to final domestic box office of $12.6 million. Its successor, The Devil's Rejects, opened to $7.1 million and wound up with $17.0 million in North American receipts. Doing the math, Zombie's first two releases earned a grand total of $29.6 million. His latest effort, Halloween, has done better than them after only four days. In an age where movie-goers have turned their backs on the over-saturated gorno market, Zombie has just turned a $20 million production into a $32.5 million holiday weekend, thereby surpassing the combined performances of his prior two releases. This is an opening akin to 2003's re-make of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which made $28.1 million in its opening weekend and had a four-day (non-holiday) total of $30.7 million. Halloween's matching that total on what has historically been a box office dead zone is a triumph for Zombie personally as well as the movie's distributor, MGM.


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