Pre-Halloween flicks flop, The Martian retains first place

PULVERISED: The Last Witch Hunter, starring Vin Diesel (pictured), brought in only a fraction of the $97.5 million it cost to make the movie.


    Oct 27, 2015

    Pre-Halloween flicks flop, The Martian retains first place


    IT WAS a pre-Halloween massacre at the multiplexes.

    Four new films, including Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and Vin Diesel's The Last Witch Hunter, crowded into theatres over the weekend in North America and were swiftly pulverised and left for dead.

    Another, Steve Jobs, expanded after a brisk limited run in a few key cities, only to be given the cold shoulder by the general public.

    Their failures allowed a trio of holdovers - The Martian, Goosebumps, and Bridge Of Spies - to retain the top three spots on the box office chart.

    "The quality of many of these films was so atrocious that it didn't matter where you opened them," said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "They were never going to do well."

    When the dust settled, it was Ridley Scott's The Martian in first place, adding US$15.9 million (S$22.2 million) to the Fox release's impressive US$166.4 million domestic haul.

    Sony's Goosebumps showed some endurance in its second weekend, slipping a mere 35 per cent to end the period with US$15.5 million. The family film's total stands at US$43.7 million. And Bridge Of Spies, the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks Cold War drama, got a lift as older crowds caught up with the awards-contender. It earned US$11.4 million, a mere 26 per cent drop from its opening weekend, bringing its stateside gross to US$32.6 million.

    But the results for the rest of the bunch were bleak. The glut of new releases was partially attributable to the timing of Halloween. The holiday falls on a Saturday, the busiest day for movie-going, so studios were hoping to steer clear of what is shaping up to be a dead period by pushing lots of new content into the last weekend. The plan backfired spectacularly.

    Lionsgate's The Last Witch Hunter cost US$70 million to make and brought in only US$10.8 million across 3,082 theatres for a fourth place finish.

    Paramount's Paranormal Activity sequel whiffed, producing the lowest grossing opening in franchise history with US$8.2 million.

    That said, it is a hard film to assess. The studio partnered with exhibitors on a move that allows the film to make its home entertainment debut early. However, many chains balked, worrying that the plan threatened theatrical exclusivity and thus, their business models. They refused to show the picture, leaving it to open on 1,656 screens, roughly 1,000 less than the previous film in the horror series.

    Perhaps the most frustrating stumble was Steve Jobs. After scoring the best per-screen average two weeks ago and slowly expanding with positive results, Steve Jobs failed to stick the landing when it was finally ready to go nationwide.

    It made a disappointing US$7.3 million from 2,443 locations. That barely beat the US$6.7 million that Ashton Kutcher's critically excoriated Steve Jobs made in its initial weekend.