FLOP, POP, FIZZLE, The Obligatory Weekend B.O. Report: ‘Paranormal’ Scares Off the Competition
It was an exciting weekend at the box office, with an amazing success and several major wipeouts. Paranormal Activity scared up a good chunk of the pre-Halloween box office, easily overtaking the rest of the new releases. The horror pic’s success is all the more remarkable considering the fact that it was made by video game designer and first time filmmaker, Oren Peli, and was shot in his house with a budget of $15,000 in 2007.
It’s also a victory for producer Jason Blum, who told KCRW’s The Business that his passion for the movie stemmed partly from the lesson he learned from the success of The Blair Witch Project. He said,
Blair Witch went out on cassette before Sundance and everyone said, what is this weird homemade movie. And noone bought it. It then went on to screen at Sundance. It wasn’t this wildly successful screening. Everyone still passed on it. I sort of internalized that in a way. And then what I took away from that experience was that, if you see something and if you really believe in it, it doesn’t matter how many people say, ‘Your out of your mind.’ You have to take it to the ends of the earth.You just can’t give up. That was the feeling I had when I saw [this] movie.
Saw VI , the latest installment of the dependable torture porn series, as Nikki Finke would put it, opened with $15.5M in second place. The rest of the new releases weren’t so lucky. Astro Boy barely managed to make $7M, debuting in sixth place. This opening is a disaster, since the animated pic, which features a blend of CGI, animatronics and live action, was five years in the making at a cost of over $85M. However, Summit Entertainment, the studio that bankrolled it, should be able to recover with the upcoming release of the Twilight sequel, New Moon.
Chris’ brother, and sometimes collaborator, Paul Weitz, directed the other big box office disappointment this week: Universal’s Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, an obvious Twilight knockoff. Maybe the brothers should stick to directing movies together, since the last commercial and critical hit for both of them was About a Boy, a movie they co-directed in 2002.
Paul explained his interest in directing The Vampire’s Assistant, and about his relationship with Chris, in a recent LA Times article:
The German Expressionist painters that I like, like Otto Dix or Max Beckmann, their vision was dark and somewhat humorous but also incredibly colorful. That was part of the reason I wanted to make the film, was to do something that was gothic but completely packed with color. Also in a way it’s about two best friends and I guess I was thinking about Chris and I and how that’s downloaded into me, this idea of this very important relationship being the center of one’s life.”
And finally, the biggest bomb of the weekend turned out to be Amelia, starring Hilary Swank as the iconic pilot Amelia Earhart. Variety’s Justin Chang wrote, “To say that Amelia never gets off the ground would be an understatement; it barely makes it out of the hangar.” Amelia took in $4M, debuting right below Zombieland, and out of the top ten.
1. Paranormal Activity (Paramount) $22M, Cume $62.4M
2. Saw VI (Lionsgate) 15.5M
3. Where The Wild Things Are (WB) $14.8M
4. Law Abiding Citizen (Overture) $12.7M, Cume $40.3M
5. Couples Retreat (Universal) $11M, Cume $78.2M
6. Astro Boy (Imagi/Summit) $7M
7. The Stepfather (Sony) $6.5M, Cume $20.3M
8. Vampire’s Assistant (Relativity/Universal) $6.3M
9. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony) $5.6M, Cume $115.2M
10. Zombieland (Sony) $4.3M, Cume $67.3M
Source: Box Office Mojo