Contagion Spreads at the Box Office; Creature Breaks Records

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After weeks of horror movies dying a quick death at the box office, a chiller about people catching a disease that causes them to die a quick death was the first frightful offering in a long while to take hold of the top slot. Creature, on the other hand…

Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s star-powered killer virus flick Contagion infected theaters this weekend to the tune of $23 million, according to Box Office Mojo, once again proving my theory that audiences will turn out in droves any time they are offered the chance to see Gwyneth Paltrow die a horrible death. All things considered, that $23 mil doesn’t exactly make Contagion a blockbuster, but on what is being hailed as the worst box office weekend of the year, it qualifies as a success.

After six weeks Rise of the Planet of the Apes continued to hold steady, taking in another $3.8 million for a 6th place finish. That brings its cumulative total to just shy of $168 million domestic.

Last weekend’s horror flops continued to flop. Shark Night 3D switched places with the found footage moon horror Apollo 18, finishing 7th with $3.5 million compared to 8th place Apollo 18’s $2.9 mil. Pretty safe to assume we will not have be getting the sequels Shark Day 3D or Apollo 19 anytime soon.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark fell to 11th with $2,261,000, bringing it to a total of $21,095,000, not quite enough yet to make back its $25 million budget.

Which brings me to Creature (review here) and the 1,507 screens on which it played this weekend to absolutely no one. The independently released monster movie didn’t even place in the top 25. Its three-day total was a whopping $331,000. Let me repeat that for you. It only grossed $331,000 on over 1,500 screens. I’ll let Box Office Mojo write the obituary:

Creature was one for the record books. At 1,507 single-screen locations, the horror movie scared up an estimated $331,000, which was the fifth lowest-grossing opening on record for a nationwide release and the second-worst in terms of per-location average. To put it another way, it was the worst ever for a movie playing at 1,500 locations or more. Its per-showing attendance was less than six people, though Bucky Larson wasn’t much better at a little over eight.

All you need to know about what an absolute catastrophe Creature’s theatrical release proved to be can be summed up by the news that Laugh at my Pain, a stand-up comedy movie I didn’t even know existed, starring Kevin Hart, a comedian I had never heard of before, made $2 million this weekend even though it was only playing on 97(!) screens.

What were they thinking?

While I’m pondering such questions, do you realize that between now and the second weekend of August there have been more widely released horror movies than there will be in the entire Halloween month of October? In terms of wide theatrically released horror offering in October, we’re getting the premake of the The Thing and Paranormal Activity 3, and that’s all. Did it never occur to any of the people behind Final Destination 5, Fright Night 3D, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Shark Night 3D, Apollo 18, and Creature that it might have been smarter to hold off the release to the appropriate season when audiences are really going to be in the mood for such horrors, especially when there will be so little genre opposition during that time period? Maybe one of those movies might have actually made some halfway decent money. Not Creature, but one of the others might have.

Do you know what movies will be opening at a theater near you on Halloween weekend?

A Justin Timberlake sci-fi thriller

A Jason Statham action thriller

A Roland Emmerich Shakespearean conspiracy thriller

Johnny English Reborn

Suddenly I find myself missing the annual Saw sequel.

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  • Vanvance1

    I have to ask. Do the people making movies like Shark Night 3D or Creature really understand their audience? In the first case we get something watered down for broad appeal, but if you numb the horror elements all you get is a made for tv movie.

    From most accounts Creature is just bad. Bad films should be ignored. I don’t mean b-movies that are entertaining, I mean films that simply don’t work.

    Conan deserved a swift death too. It was made by people with no respect for the source material and that fact defined it. Start by not alienating your core audience.

    Apollo 19 probably made it’s budget back and more. The found footage concept is a way to make crap on the cheap so there’s no financial risk involved. This mode of making movies is played out and vile. I feel it is the worst movie making trend since remakes.

    In summary: Playing it safe, playing it cheap and playing it with genre cliches instead of passion results in sucktastic product.