Conan and Fright Night Faced Death at the Box Office – Literally!

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This weekend’s ultra violent reboot of Conan the Barbarian and remake of Fright Night have been met with widely differing critical reactions. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Judging by their respective box office takes, it’s more like, “Who cares?”

This was not a good weekend for R-rated genre flicks at the box office. It really wasn’t a good weekend for any flicks at the box office although Rise of the Planet of the Apes continued to surprise with a 2nd place finish (just behind 1st place The Help and ahead of 3rd place Spy Kids 4D) of $16 million for the weekend. In its third week the prequel has hauled in around $133 million domestically.

Surprising there has yet to be official word of an Apes follow-up when you consider Warner Brothers announced intentions to move forward with a Green Lantern sequel even after it flopped at the box office both domestically and internationally.

Speaking of flops, the weekend was truly frightful for the 3D remake of the Eighties cult classic Fright Night. 3,000 theaters. Inflated 3D ticket prices. A 6th place opening weekend finish (behind The Smurfs) with $7.9 million dollars is all it was able to muster. Folks, you do realize even Vampires Suck opened stronger than this, right?

Rest assured somewhere in Hollywood today the producers are shaking their heads and declaring they should have made it PG-13. At least their dead-on-arrival remake only cost about $30 million, but Fright Night will still go down as one of the year’s biggest box office bombs.

As Box Office Mojo astutely pointed out, “The original Fright Night made $6.1 million its first weekend back in August 1985, but the remake had around half the attendance, despite having over twice the locations.”

Although Conan opened slightly stronger, Lionsgate/Nu Image/Millennium Films had $90 million riding on the reboot, and they had better hope audiences are more receptive to it internationally or else the title character won’t be the only person involved who loses his shirt. Would a PG-13 rating have helped this 21st century Conan do better than a dire 4th place opening of only $10 million (and that’s also with inflated 3D ticket prices included)?

We already got a PG-rated Conan back in the Eighties, and that’s not exactly looked back upon all that fondly. Anyone who has seen The Scorpion King already has a good idea what a PG-13 Conan would be like. Perhaps a lack of starpower or trailers that made it look like nothing more than an R-rated Scorpion King can explain why the film has been greeted with viewer disinterest. Or maybe this is one of those movies where the average viewer decided they could just wait four months to see it when it comes out on DVD.

Lastly, death continued to die at the box office as Final Destination 5 sank to 7th place in its second week with a paltry $7.7 million. $32.3 million is all this fifth installment in the Final Destination has been able to pull in thus far, making it far and away the weakest showing of any in the series. If you’re wondering what’s the only thing that can kill death itself, the answer appears to be apathy.

With Conan savaged and Fright Night staked out of the gate this weekend, you have to wonder who next weekend will be nervously biting their fingers the most: the people watching Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark or the people that produced the R-rated remake.

Conan and Fright Night Faced Death at the Box Office - Literally!

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  • kalebson

    I can personally say that I think 3D is ruining the market as a whole. Hell my neighbor can’t even go see a 3D movie as it makes him sick and he really wanted to see Fright Night. I can say however that I was happily surprised that the film was better than I expected for sure. Our theatres here in Salt Lake were dismally empty for almost every showing, not as bad as FD5 mind you when opening night in IMAX we had 4 people in the theatre. I will be supporting the genre as usual this weekend with Don’t be Afraid of the Dark. Sorry to say this but if you all want horror films to continue going wide in theatres we had better start supporting the shitty films AND the good ones or our genre is going to come to a screaching halt and you will have to venture out to festivals to see our genre in any spectacle. I mean hell I hear locally that Sundance is even taking in some 3D entries this year for consideration…please lets not destroy our festivals with even more inflation in ticket prices.

    • Foywonder

      I think you’re right about audiences rejecting 3D. There was nothing in the Fright Night remake that warranted it being in 3D. If there’s a movie that people really want to see and it’s in 3D many will go see it that way but for movies that people may be on the fence about those inflated prices guarantee they’ll skip it in theaters.

      The one problem with your argument about supporting the genre at the box office is that just about every really good horror movie I’ve seen so far this year has either gone straight to DVD or been given a tiny theatrical release. Even if the horror genre tapers off for awhile at the cinema the best stuff these days isn’t even finding its way there to begin with.

    • vorodex999

      I agree with you. I think I enjoyed Fright Night more than I would have imagined due to see so many bad horro films in theaters here lately. I support horror thru the bad but if horror is seen as non profitable to studios it could cause them to stop putting them out. Im not sure but didnt that happen in the 90s until SCREAM came out? Anyway I try to support more independent type of horror filsm but I literally live in a area where thats not easy unless I buy a plane ticket to somewhere.

  • theGoldenSimatar

    At my theater, what I’ve seen of Fright Night has peaked my interest and seems decent. Not on the excellent scale of Synder’s remake of Dawn or Aja’s of Hills; but decent.

    Conan I plan to check out tomorrow at the theater next door to ours.

  • vorodex999

    Fright Night was a good remake, a fun ride with good performances as well as a good story. Being a huge fan of the original and even its less than great but still good sequel. I’m sorry but it seems the horror community constantly want a good horror film to come out and yet when one comes out that is good they seem not to care about it and complain about something or nitpick it apart. Ive been a horror movie fan since I was five and my parents bought me the classic Universal Monster collection on VHS, I was a fan then and always will be, but for the rest of the HORROR community Screw You! You let horrible kids family film do better than a good horror film. Shame Shame. I dont care for the backlash I will get for this, revoke my Horror fan card if you will. Fright Night was a good 3 1/2 knives out of 5 if not a 4. I went in to a packed theater where people laughed at the jokes or just plain enjoyed the film. Too bad that didnt happen Nationwide.. If horror keeps going the route its been going at the boxoffice its going to go by the way it did in the 90s and thats gonna suck.

    • Foywonder

      What if I’m complaining because I think the film is truly terrible and it is so riddled with bullshit that one hardly needs to nitpick to point out why? If this is what constitutes a quality horror film these days then you are very much correct about the state of horror cinema being in bad shape.

      • will graham

        It’s still in a better shape than it was in the early 90’s.

      • vorodex999

        Ehh to each his own.. I enjoyed Fright Night as much as I did the original. The original had flaws too and is no where near perfect as well. Im not one for remakes by no means but it seems like thats all we are going to get for the next few months. Maybe if people stop promoting remakes it wil cause studios to rethink the whole idea of rehashing these old classics and create new ideas. I don’t know. but it could also have the reverse effect and cause studios not to put faith in horror all together.

  • Vanvance1

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see Fright Night tank. However, I don’t believe you can blame the failure on an R rating alone. I think the audience might be tiring of ‘me too’ films. A backlash against soulless remakes is long overdue.

    As for Conan, maybe enough of us are holding off to avoid epic disappointment. Why does LOTR get enough respect to be done right but Conan doesn’t?

    Give me a Conan that is a direct translation of one of Howard’s stories and I’m first in line at that theatre. Just calling it ‘Conan the Barbarian’ shows that the producers missed the point and the escense.

  • jkincer

    Maybe now they will stop giving Marcus Nispel money to make movies. I think people may finally be tired of all things 1980’s being remade. Seriously, are there any movies left to remake?

    • Foywonder

      Don’t worry. We’re just a few years away from the resurgence in Nineties pop culture. Get ready for your live-action Pokemon and Street Sharks movies, Mrs. Doubtfire and Con Air remakes, a $100 million big screen version of Saved by the Bell, and Taylor Lautner in mouse make-up starring in James Cameron’s Biker Mice from Mars: The Movie.

      • nazo

        If you’re right, that means we should see the Platinum Dunes remake of Leprechaun in just a few years.

        • Foywonder

          If you think a Platinum Dunes Leprechaun remake is something just wait until you see Marcus Nispel’s 3D remake of Man’s Best Friend.

          • theGoldenSimatar

            As Conan cost about $100million; using the system of double/triple the budget for adverts/prints….unless Conan does damn good in foreign and on video….I don’t think Nispel is gonna be directing anything big for quite a while.

          • nazo

            Actually, speaking of canines, if this Twilight bubble keeps going for a few more years, we may finally get a big budget tweener remake of American Werewolf in Paris.

          • Diavolo

            I’m hoping for a ‘Zoltan, Hound of Dracula’ reboot.

          • Shambling_in_Bandages

            Starting with ‘Zoltan, Hound of Dracula: The Puppy Years’, in which our favourite diabolical pooch has the ability to talk!

    • The Woman In Black

      Actually, I thought Nispel did a great job. Conan has lots of big, epic scenes, and they all looked great and played really well. It’s too bad the film didn’t do better business because it seems he’s finally found his footing with this one.