I must admit I'm surprised at the success of THE SIMPSONS movie, which made its debut at #1 with $74-million. Yes, the popularity of the TV show indicates there was an audience, but did they all really feel the need to run out opening weekend like Homer chasing after doughnut?
I was almost equally suprised by the dismal performance of I KNOW WHO KILLED ME. Sure, it didn't look good, but when has that interferred with success? At the very least - working on the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity - you would have thought that television coverage of star Lindsay Lohan's drunk driving arrest would have lured a few more curiosity seekers.
I also wanted to mention that 1408 is just shy of $70-million at this point, makes it the most successful supernatural horror film of the year. (DISTURBIA, which might be considered a horror film, although it's more of a thriller, earned over $80-million.)
In case you're keeping count, THE MESSENGERS, which was reviled by both critics and fans, was the second biggest horror "hit" of the year, with $35.4-million. Joel Schumacher's muddled THE NUMBER 23 managed $35.1-million. ZODIAC topped out at $33.1-million. 28 WEEKS LATER ran out at $28.6-million. THE REAPING harvested only $25.1-million. GRINDHOUSE ground out at $25-million. THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 earned $20.8-million. VACANCY took in just shy of $19-million. HOSTEL PART II slaughtered $17.6-million. DEAD SILENCE shouted up $16.6-million. THE HITCHER recycled $16.5-million. PRIMEVAL chomped down on $10.5-million. BUG managed $7-million in limited release.
That totals approximately $441-million. For a point of comparison, SPIDER-MAN 3, the year's top film, earned $336-million all on its own.
I think it safe to say that the high profit ratios from churning out low-budget horror films have fallen off considerably, but it is probably not a good idea to conclude too much from these figures. Horror films are not the only ones that have under-performed this year, and all that's missing here is one or two blockbusters (like THE RING or THE GRUDGE) to lift the genre's fortunes and erase the disappointments. For instance if we had stretched the definition of the genre enough to include GHOST RIDER, that would have added a nifty $115.8-million to the totals. Hopefully, Hollywood horror will abandon torture-porn and look for new ways to attract audiences.