Fun Fact: The three horror movies (besides IT) with the biggest opening weekends this year have a combined production budget of $18.5 million and earned a combined $100 million on their opening weekends. All three were produced by Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions: Split, Get Out, and this weekend’s Happy Death Day, which opened at number one with $26.5 million on a $5 million production budget.
No one gets a better return on investment than Blumhouse Productions, which could probably finance three years’ worth of movies with the profits from one Paranormal Activity film. It’s insane what Jason Blum can do, and even more insane that he’s so consistent. Why don’t more studios emulate him? And why hasn’t someone sought to resurrect the dead romantic comedy genre with the Blumhouse model: Make clever, high-concept rom-coms with young up-and-coming talent and tiny budgets? Even if they only earn $20-$25 million, they still generate a profit.
At any rate, Happy Death Day was another feather in Jason Blum’s cap this weekend, as it did exactly what it set out to do: Use a great marketing plan to draw massive amounts of young viewers in to see an original horror movie that was well liked by both critics (66 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (a B on Cinemascore, which is very good for the horror genre). Blum continues to have a golden touch.
Meanwhile, for comparison’s sake, for Blade Runner 2049 to get the same return on investment percentage as Happy Death Day, it would have had to earn an astronomical $795 million on its opening weekend. It obviously fell well short of that last weekend with only $32 million (or $6 million more than Happy Death Day). It’s not exactly burning up the box office in its second weekend, either, earning $15 million to bring its total to $60 million. It’s making roughly equal that at the worldwide box office, so it’s looking less and less likely that Blade Runner 2049 will earn a profit during its theatrical run, which is a damn shame for a great sci-fi flick.
Meanwhile, the better than expected Jackie Chan/Pierce Brosnan thriller The Foreigner came in at number three, earning a better than expected $12.4 million stateside. With $100 million worldwide, the film is already in the black on a $35 million budget, which illustrates that Jackie Chan still does have some worldwide drawing power. Good for him.
Numbers four through nine this week are all holdovers. Stephen King’s IT continues to hum along, adding $6.4 million to bring the total for the highest grossing horror film of all time to $315 million. The Mountain Between Us had a modest 47 percent drop in its second weekend, earning $5.6 million to bring its 10 day total to $20 million. It’s still going to need to do well internationally to eke out a profit on its $35 million price tag. American Made notches past the $40 million mark in its third weekend, although the $50 million film has already crossed the $100 million mark worldwide, so Tom Cruise continues to sit pretty.
With $5.1 million, Kingsman: The Golden Circle inches just short of the $90 million mark domestic (and $275 million worldwide). The Lego Ninjago Movie has now crossed the $50 million mark in the United States (and $90 million worldwide). Meanwhile, for animated fare, My Little Pony suffers a steeper-than-usual second week drop of 58 percent. It’s now earned $15 million after 10 days.
There were two other new releases, as well, and despite the fact that both were good to very good, neither made much of a dent. Marshall, starring Sterling K. Brown and Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, barely cracked the top ten with $3 million. While Thurgood Marshall deserves a better biopic than Marshall, the movie nevertheless is better than a $3 million opening would suggest. Meanwhile, Professor Marston and The Wonder Women made only a measly $800,000 on 1200 screens. That’s a shame, because it is a fascinating film about the creator of Wonder Woman and his polyamorous relationship.
Next week sees five new releases, none of which are expected to perform particularly well. Gerard Butler’s Geostorm looks like terrible fun and could be a surprise hit if America is feeling ironic; Miles Tellers’ Only The Brave is not kicking up much buzz; Same Kind of Different as Me is another faith-based film starring Greg Kinnear; Michael Fassbender’s The Snowman has one of the most laughably bad trailers of 2017; and Tyler Perry returns with a sequel to his Halloween movie Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, which earned $73 million last year.