Box Office is down almost 30 percent from last year

Is it time to panic yet? Last week I told you about the one bright spot at the movies, The Master, which was earning $130 grand per location (largely driven by the fact that it wasn’t playing in many locations, but still) while the rest of the box office was down 18 percent from the same weekend last year. This week it’s even worse, with box office down 28 percent from the same weekend last year. I’m no business man, but 28 percent seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Like, if I tried to take out a loan and you told me the interest was 28 percent, I’d be all like, “Not even, homes, no thanks.”

According to studio estimates, House at the End of The Street [gratuitous picture of Jennifer Lawrence’s cleavage included] and End of Watch are tied with $13 million, while Trouble with the Curve isn’t far behind and could ultimately move up to the top spot. Without any break-out hit, the Top 12 earned an estimated $76.6 million this weekend, which is off a whopping 28 percent from the same frame last year.

House at the End of the Street topped recent “House” horror movies Dream House ($8.1 million) and Silent House ($6.7 million), but was a bit behind Last House on the Left ($14.1 million). The audience skewed young (70 percent under 25) and female (61 percent), and it was also predominantly Latino (52 percent). They gave the movie a “B” CinemaScore.

Seriously, there are enough other crappy horror movies with “house” in the title to be a basis for comparison? Gee, I can’t imagine why people weren’t rushing away from their flat screens in a hurry to buy seven-dollar popcorn for that one. Hey, but what about Dredd 3D? Wasn’t that one actually good?

In sixth place, comic book adaptation/remake Dredd bombed with just $6.3 million from 2,506 locations. That’s less than one-third of Kick-Ass‘s $19.8 million, and only a little over half of the original Judge Dredd‘s $12.3 million (and that movie was considered a flop 17 years ago!). It’s at least up on Shoot ‘Em Up ($5.7 million) and about on par with April’s Lockout ($6.2 million), though those comparisons suggest Dredd is on track for less than $20 million through its entire run.

Dredd‘s awful performance is the latest example of how the Comic-Con/online fanboy crowd just doesn’t make up a large portion of the moviegoers in this country. The movie came out of its Comic-Con screening in July with tons of online buzz and very strong reviews, and it maintained a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes through at least its first 25 reviews (though it ultimately wound up at a more-reasonable 77 percent). As a result, the fanboy audience was very aware of this movie ahead of release, and anticipation seemed to be pretty high among this group as well. Ultimately, though, it’s just not a big-enough group to drive strong business. For a good dissection of the hazards of targeting fanboys, check out this piece from earlier this year in The Hollywood Reporter. [BoxOfficeMojo]

While it goes without saying that you shouldn’t hang your movie’s hopes on a neckbeard-centric marketing campaign, I don’t think this is really the best example of that. It ignores two important factors. First, it just wasn’t marketed that much. Not compared to other big action sci-fi films. I mean how many more ads have you seen for Looper? Dredd didn’t even screen for critics in some markets. Secondly, after Stallone’s 1995 Judge Dredd, releasing a movie called “Dredd” just has insurmountably negative name recognition. Remember ValuJet, and how they had to change their name? Dredd is the movie equivalent of starting a new airline called “ValuJet.” Even if it’s great, who’s going to want to find out? As a wise man named Jules once said, “sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know because I’d never eat the filthy motherf*cker.”

Moreover, a good 3D remake is still a 3D remake. And you’re not going to turn this kind of slide around with remakes.