It's retro week at the box office.
“Evil Dead,” a remake of Sam Raimi‘s gleefully gory 1981 horror classic, and Universal’s 3D re-release of Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 sci-fi smash “Jurassic Park” are the only two movies opening nationwide this weekend.
That means the overall box office, which is running about 13 percent behind 2012, won't do much catching up this weekend. Last year at this time, "The Hunger Games" was about to cross $300 million with a $33 million third weekend.
On the specialty front, Fox Searchlight is debuting Danny Boyle's crime drama "Trance" on four screens. James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassell star in the R-rated tale of an art auctioneer who gets mixed up with a group of criminals partners and a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.
Sony Classics is opening the R-rated thriller "The Company You Keep." It's directed by Robert Redford, who stars with Shia LaBouf in the story of a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.
Advance ticket sales have been strong for Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color," which indie distributor ERBP is opening at the IFC Center in New York. It's Caruth's second film. His first was the 2004’s time-travel thriller "Primer,," which won the Grand Jury Prize for drama at the Sundance Film Festival. Caruth wrote the screenplay, diected, stars and composed the score.
The Weinsstein Company has its horror thriller "6 Souls" in 30 theaters.
As for "Evil Dead," Social-media activity has surged for "Evil Dead" over the past few days, and analysts say it should wind up No. 1 with around $22 million. That will be a win for Sony's TriStar, Film District and Ghost House Pictures, since its production budget is an estimated $17 million.
That's not a lot by Hollywood standards, but it is compared to the budget on Raimi's original "The Evil Dead," which was $375,000. That one made less than $3 million at the box office, with most people seeing it on VHS. Its over-the-top style and gruesome effects made it a cult favorite and set off waves of imitators.
The buzz around the remake took off after it premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival last month. Good, and gory, was the takeaway. "It makes the 'Saw' movies look like 'The Care Bears," said one fan.
The timing looks right for "Evil Dead.”
“Its pedigree and cult appeal give this film a built-in following,” BoxOffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap. “Add in the fact there hasn’t been a horror film in the market for more than a month, and you’ve looking at a strong opening."
It's the top selling movie at online ticket seller Fandango. What's more, "Evil Dead” already has more than 629,000 “likes” on Facebook, compared to the 69,000 that last April's homage/send-up of the genre, “Cabin in the Woods,” had three days prior to its release. On Twitter, it’s more than 55,000 to 17,000.
Raimi, who has gone on to direct three “Spider-Man” movies and “Oz the Great and Powerful,” is a producer, along with Robert Tapert, who produced the original film, and Bruce Campbell, who played the heroic Ash in the original.
Director Alvarez will be making his feature film debut, after catching Raimi's eye with his short film "Panic Attack." He and Rodo Sayagues co-wrote the script, which got a polish by Diablo Cody.
Jane Levy (TV’s “Suburgatory”) plays the lead, who is taken by a group of her 20-something friends to a remote cabin to get off drugs cold turkey. There, the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods, and the blood-letting — and there’s plenty of it — begins. Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore co-star.
“Evil Dead’ is rated R, which in theory puts a ceiling on its box-office prospects. But there was really no other choice, if the filmmakers wanted to remain true to the spirit of the original, which was NC-17 for violence and gore. It makes sense to cater to hardcore fans, since the chances that “Evil Dead” will play beyond its genre base are slim. That's why even horror films that open well rarely show staying power at the box office.
“Evil Dead” will be on more than 3,000 screens in North America, and is opening in 20 foreign countries as well.
"Jurassic Park" — for which Universal spent $10 million on the conversion by Stereo D, the same outfit that worked on James Cameron's "Titanic" — will be on roughly 2,600 screens, about 300 of them Imax. T — and that's in line with the recent re-releases of of a couple of other blockbusters.
Last February, “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” was given a 3D re-release in 2,655 theaters. It opened with $22 million and went on to take in $43.4 million domestically.
A couple of weeks later, on this weekend last year, the 3D version of “Titanic” was able to bring in $17.3 million from 2,674 theaters before grossing $58 million total in North America. The 3D "Titanic' was a huge hit in China, however, where it took in an eye-popping $145 million.
Analysts see the 3D "Jurassic Park" landing in the mid-teen millions this weekend and taking in around $40 million over the course of its domestic run Universal is also opening it this weekend in Australia, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Russia, Ukraine and India, with the rest of the foreign rollout starting next week