We've Got Hollywood Covered

Big Weekend for Fear; ‘Basterds’ Takes in Another $19.6

Quentin Tarantino’s latest brings its total to $73.3m.

Sunday update:


Warner-New Line’s 3D film "The Final Destination" bolted strongly out of the gate on Friday and its projected to finish the weekend with a strong $28.3 million, according to studio estimates, ranking atop a domestic box office that featured four R-rated films in the top four.


"Destination’s" 1,678 3D venues — which made up nearly half of its total 3,121 engagements — accounted for 70 percent of total box-office gross.


That easily beat the other debuting scarefest, Dimension’s Rob Zombie-directed "Halloween II," which came in third with projected three-day total of $17.4 million.


Landing in the middle was "Inglourious Basterds," which held up well — dropping $49% — and grossed another $19.6 million. That brought its total to $73.3 million. Sony’s $25 million sci-fi acquisition, the Peter Jackson-produced "District 9" finished in fourth place with another $10.7 million and is now up to $90.8 million.


The weekend’s other studio premiere was Focus Feature’s Ang Lee-directed "Taking Woodstock," which finished in ninth place with a projected weekend take of $3.8 million. The studio had predicted an opening of between $3 million to $5 million.


While the theme of the weekend is definitly death and dismemberment, the big story is "The Final Destination," which clearly defied tracking predictions that set it for the high teens to low 20s. 


With 1,678 locations charging premium 3D ticket prices, the fourth "Destination" enjoyed by far its four-film, nine-year-old franchise’s biggest opening, outpacing 2006’s "Final Destination 3" (which opened to $19.2 million on the way to a $113.3 million global take) by more than $10 million.


The fourth installment was the most expensive to produce, $30 million, according to several execs at rival studios. But the franchise seems to be growing with each successive movie. The first film about young folks dying freakishly before their time, 2000’s "Final Destination," opened to just $10 million.


For their part, Dimension and distributor Weinstein didn’t come close to the $26.4 million opening they enjoyed in 2007 for their reboot of the 31-year-old "Halloween" franchise, which now spans eight films and countless awful onscreen murders. However, production costs on "Halloween II" came in at around $15 million, so don’t look for ageless psychopath Mike Myers to end his killing spree anytime soon.


With total domestic box-office receipts coming in at around $122 million vs. about $100 million for the same weekend last year, this summer movie season will now officially finish by far as history’s best in terms of revenue. And it’s not over, with Labor Day falling on the late date of Sept. 7, and extending the season — which began on May 1 — by a full week.


Happily for studios that spent big on ambitious tentpoles, the extended summer season should bring them to profitability.


Parmount, for example, saw its "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" finish in fifth place this weekend, adding a projected three-day total of $8 million and bringing the $175 million action picture’s four-week domestic stash to $132.4 million. Foreign receipts were at around $125 million going into the weekend.


Disney’s Jerry Bruckheimer-produced CGI-live-action hybrid "G-Force," meanwhile, finished in 10th place six weeks after premiering, adding $2.8 million to a North American total that’s now at $111.8 million. Internationally, Disney is going territory by territory with the 3D guinea-pig-themed movie and should easily match or exceed that total.


Saturday update:


Fear and violence are ruling the box office.


And apparently, two horror films being released on the same weekend is not such a horrible idea, after all.


Warner/New Line’s 3D "The Final Destination" is standing tall at the weekend box office, having grossed $10.9 million on Friday, according to studio estimates, exceeding prior industry tracking figures on the way to what looks like a $28 million weekend. 


Like the "Final Destination" franchise’s three other films featuring young folks dying prematurely in all manner of gruesome ways, this latest installment looks to be quite profitable, coming in with a $30 million production budget.


Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co./Dimension’s Rob Zombie-directed "Halloween II" premiered to $7.5 million, putting the $15 million film on pace to meet tracking estimates with a projected $18 million weekend.


"The Final Destination" and "Halloween II competed on an essentially even screening field, with both infiltrating just over 3,000 venues. However, once again, 3D appears to have been a difference-maker, with the Warner title getting viewed with those funny, annoying glasses at 1,678 3D-equiped theaters.


One other studio film released this weekend, Focus Features’ Ang Lee-directed "Taking Woodstock," finished in ninth place in limited release, taking in $1.2 million Friday on the way to an estimated $3.8 million weekend — in line with the lower side of tracking estimates.


As for holdovers, the war and gore soldiered on.


In third position was Weinstein’s Nazi-negating "Inglourious Basterds," which brought in another $5.9 million Friday — a 59% drop from its premiere date a week prior — putting the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie on the way to totaling an estimated $19.1 for the weekend.


Meanwhile, holding strong in fourth place Friday, Sony’s uniquely dark sci-fi picture "District 9" — which features crustation-like space aliens being shot and tortured, and humans going through rather gruesome genetic transformations — brought in another $3 million. The Peter Jackson-produced film, which costs the studio $25 million to license, should finish the weekend with about $90 million in total domestic receipts.


And in fifth place, Paramount’s "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" continued to justify its $175 million production costs. The popcorn film — which features plenty of its own weapons use and gory mutation sequences — scored another $2.3 million Friday and should finish the weekend at $132 million so far domestically. The film has grossed nearly $125 million so far internationally.


Here’s how the top 10 shaped up:


The Final Destination $10.9m

Halloween II $7.5m

Inglourious Basterds $5.9m

District 9 $3m

G.I. Joe $2.3m

The Time Traveler’s Wife $2.1

Julie & Julia $2.1m

Shorts $1.3m

Taking Woodstock $1.2m

G-Force $722k


Thursday preview:


What in the heck are they thinking?

So far, the studios have been playing it pretty smart. They’ve collectively navigated their way to the biggest revenue-generating summer the domestic box-office has ever seen by counterprogramming — “Julie and Julia” vs. “G.I. Joe” – or by completely clearing out of the way for behemoths like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
That all changes this weekend. Fighting it out on the penultimate weekend of the season are two R-rated horror flicks with exactly the same audience: Weinstein/Dimension’s Rob Zombie-directed “Halloween II” and Warner/New Line’s “The Final Destination.”
The main difference between the two seems to be that "Destination" is being shown in summer’s "It" technology, 3D, which might give it an edge.
“What these two movies are doing coming out on the same date is a real head-scratcher,” said a distribution executive for a rival studio. “I don’t get it.”
Also speaking candidly, a marketing official for another rival noted that studio execs often find themselves in a game of “scheduling chicken” — racing headlong into intense genre competitions, afraid to move to another date because they don’t want to appear, well, chicken.
“This leads to unfortunate collisions of movies that don’t belong on the same date,” he noted.
For their part, officials from Weinstein and Warner were unavailable to comment. However, one executive close to Weinstein said the date makes sense, given that Dimension’s 2007 “Halloween” franchise reboot was released the same week on the calendar and opened to $26.4 million on the way $80.2 million worldwide take.
Also, with the summer box-office extended one week this year — with Labor Day falling on the later-than-usual date of Sept. 7 — films released Friday will enjoy a second weekend before their youthful audience members return to high school and college.
Studio distribution officials say both horror films are tracking in the “high-teens” range, with “Halloween 2” coming in with a production budget of around $15 million and “The Final Destination” running around $30 million.
The “Final Destination” franchise’s fourth installment – the first of the series in 3D — comes three years after “Final Destination 3” made $113.3 million worldwide.
Both films will challenge last week’s box-office champ, Weinstein’s “Inglourious Basterds.” Tracking estimates for that film, directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, predict a 50-55 percent decline from its impressive $38 million haul last weekend.
Opening in limited release this weekend, Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock,” distributed by Focus Features, is expected to do about $5 million over the three-day period.