FINAL WEEKEND TRACKING: 'Halloween' Headed for New 4-day Labor Day Weekend Record; By Monday, Michael Myers Will Be the All-Time 4th-Biggest Movie "Killer"; 'Balls of Fury' Likely 3rd w/sub-$15M; 'Death Sentence' Appropriately Titled
by Steve Mason
Michael Myers is ready to slash his way to an all-time four-day Labor Day weekend record, and, by Monday, he'll pass Jigsaw to become the fourth-highest grossing movie "killer" in modern box office history.
The original 1978 John Carpenter film Halloween is, for my money, the scariest of all scary movies. Donald Pleasance is just far enough over the top when the nurse says, "Don't you think it would be better if you referred to 'it' as a 'him?' ", and, as Doctor Loomis, Pleasance responds, "If you say so." Also classic is the moment where Jamie Lee Curtis says, "I killed him," and the little boy says, "You can't kill the boogie man."
No official reviews are available for Rob Zombie's new version of Halloween (MGM/Weinstein). Quint from Ain't It Cool News says that user reviews from screenings and bootlegs are love-hate 50/50. He also, correctly, points out that the Weinsteins are thrilled with Zombie, and Bob and Harvey have signed him to a 2-picture deal. That being said, it's always dangerous to remake a classic, and Halloween is a high wire act ... but this movie is going to open huge. I reviewed tracking with a well-placed source today, and even they were surprised at the apparent strength. This slasher pic isn't just scoring with Under 25s. The 25 Plus crowd may be showing up.
Saw III (Lionsgate), which opened to $33.6 million last October, is a very good comparable. The most recent chapter of the twisted James Wan/Leigh Whannell horror series was stronger in almost every category on its opening day than Halloween percent is now, but ol' Mike Myers is giving Jigsaw a run for his money. The Lionsgate sequel had Un-Aided Awareness of 22 percent, compared to a very strong 13 for Halloween. The Rob Zombie remake actually leads Saw III percent in Total Awareness 82 percent-73, but that's a function of the legendary status of the original. The third movie featuring Jigsaw leads in Definite Interest 46 percent-36 percent, and in the First Choice column 20 percent-13 percent, but Halloween has a First Choice with Males 25 Plus of 11 percent and Females 25 Plus of 10 percent.
Is a four-quadrant horror movie possible? To some degree, yes, but this is Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects), and this picture has a strong R rating. Mom may have gotten a great scare out of Jamie Lee and Mike 30 years ago, but she's not necessarily going to bring the kids to the mall to see this one. There will be a wave of nostalgia, but it won't be a tsunami. I'm targeting $23 million-$26 million for Halloween, which would be a record-breaking four-day Labor Day weekend, surpassing 2005's Transporter 2 from Fox.
TOP 10 4-DAY LABOR DAY WEEKENDS
1. Transporter 2 — $20.1 million
2. Jeepers Creepers 2 — $18.3 million
3. Jeepers Creepers — $15.8 million
4. Crank — $12.8 million
5. The Wicker Man — $11.7 million
6. The Constant Gardener — $10.9 million
7. The Crow: City of Angels — $9.7 million
8. First Kid — $8.4 million
9. Hoodlum — $8.1 million
10. The Illusionist — $7.9 million
Any list of box office greats that includes Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 can't be all that impressive. In fact, none of the titles above ever reached $45 million domestic, and most finished well under that mark. Still, a holiday weekend record is a holiday weekend record. Halloween (2007) will easily post the best opening weekend in the eight-film history of the franchise.
OPENING WEEKENDS FOR HALLOWEEN MOVIES
1. Halloween: H2O (1998) — $16.1 million
2. Halloween: Resurrection (2002) — $12.2 million
3. Halloween II (1981) — $7.4 million
4. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) — $7.3 million
5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) — $6.8 million
6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) — $6.3 million
7. Halloween 5 (1989) — $5.1 million
(Opening weekend data for John Carpenter's original Halloween, released in 1978, is not available)
And, interestingly, Michael Myers will pass Jigsaw to become the all-time fourth-best grossing movie killer/slasher. (Jigsaw will almost certainly retake the No. 4 spot on the list sometime this fall, with Saw IV opening Oct. 26.)
TOP 5 GROSSING KILLER FRANCHISES
1. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs (5 films) — $425.2 million
2. Jason Vorhees from Friday the Thirteenth (11 films) — $315.6 million
3. Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare On Elm Street (8 films) — $307.4 million
4. Jigsaw from Saw (3 films) — $222.5 million
5. Michael Myers from Halloween (8 films) — $216.8 million
The tracking for Balls of Fury (Rogue Releasing) is actually stronger than its opening Wednesday of $1.7 million. Its Un-Aided Awareness was 5 percent, which indicates a bit of a commercial pulse, but there were no long lines at America's multiplexes on opening day. Critics are not being kind, but that's not exactly a surprise. Balls has a rating of 29 percent Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, and it's MetaCritic number is 37, but they didn't make this movie for the Ebert & Roeper crowd. This is the Beerfest or Dodgeball of ping-pong. That's a huge range. Beerfest opened with a three-day of $7 million back in 2006 and went on to gross a mere $19.1 million. Meanwhile, Dodgeball opened to $30 million, and became a phenomenon with $114.3 million domestic.
The most recent dumb sport-themed movie was Hot Rod starring Andy Samberg. Despite debuting on over 2,000 screens, it managed only $5.3 million on opening weekend, and, to-date, it has registered just $13.6 million in domestic ticket sales. Balls of Fury is showing up dramatically stronger than Hot Rod in industry tracking with a 67 percent Total Aware vs. 42 percent, 34 percent Definite Interest vs. 25 percent, and it's got a 10 percent First Choice vs. 0 percent for Hot Rod.
My hunch is that Rogue's soft Wednesday opening isn't a great predictor of the weekend performance for Balls of Fury ($1.7 million on Wednesday could be pointing toward a four-day of $10 million). Instead, I'm looking for a marginally better four-day Labor Day weekend of $12 million-$15 million, which would actually make it one of the All-Time Top 5 four-day Labor Day weekends (still not impressive). Balls will likely turn in a six-day haul (Wednesday-Sunday) of $15 million -$18 million.
That brings us to the hardly-marketed Death Sentence (20th Century Fox), which has been screened for virtually nobody. Saw co-creator James Wan is the director of this Kevin Bacon film, and those in the industry will likely view this as "strike two" for him. (Strike one was Universal's spring horror flick Dead Silence.) The tracking says that only 42 percent of the movie-going public has even heard of the film, and with Definite Interest of just 30 percent and a First Choice number of 4 percent, it won't take long for this one to show up at the local Blockbuster. I'm not looking for more than $3 million-$6 million in its opening 4 days.
Here are my Final Predictions for the 4-Day Labor Day Weekend of 2007:
1. Halloween (MGM/Weinstein) — $25.7 million
2. Superbad (Sony) — $13.1 million
3. Balls of Fury (Rogue Releasing) — $12.9 million [$15.9 million for six days]
4. The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal) — $9.7 million
5. Rush Hour 3 (New Line) — $8.5 million
6. Mr. Bean's Holiday (Universal) — $5.4 million
7. War (Lionsgate) — $4.8 million
8. The Nanny Diaries (MGM/Weinstein) — $4.7 million
9. Death Sentence (20th Century Fox) — $3.6 million
10. The Simpsons Movie (20th Century Fox) — $2.8 million