Friday Box Office Analysis (10/22)
The Grudge poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published October 23, 2004
The figure is even in line with some of summer?s biggest blockbusters, Alien vs. Predator and I Robot.
Murdering every prediction out there, The Grudge commanded the box office on Friday with a massive $15.2 million in ticket sales, outshining even the most optimistic projections. Playing in 3,245 theaters, the thriller/horror flick averaged a colossal $4,699 per-screen. The figure is even in line with some of summer?s biggest blockbusters, Alien vs. Predator ($16.4 million - $4,843 per-screen) and Will Smith?s I Robot ($18.1 million - $5,284 per-screen).

A 3,245 theater count release suggested confidence by Sony, but few (in their forecasting) would dare go beyond the obvious comparison of Julianne Moore?s eerie thriller, The Forgotten, which raked in $7.6 million in 3,104 theaters for a $2,455 average. Being PG-13 likely helped with the younger Sarah Michelle Gellar fans, as this flick could even pull in the pre-teen crowd, when other similar movies cut them off due to their grisly material. Similarly, next week?s horror feast, Saw, will be an interesting one to observe, as with its promise of intense violence and its aim at teens and young adults (and with moviegoers obviously craving scares), will that have relevant steam?

What made Grudge so big? Good question. When I first saw the poster for it a few months ago at a theater, I thought it was the sequel to The Ring. Rather than putting Gellar on the poster like you might expect, the Sony executives got clever and attached what looked like that creepy looking girl from Ring, perhaps (partly) to play with one?s mind. I?m not trying to be biased (I know there?s an audience for Grudge), but I doubt I?m the only one who ever wondered that.

After Open Water pissed some people off due to its lack of genuine thrills (despite that it wasn?t really a hit), scares have probably been in dire need for a while. The Grudge opened at the same time as last year?s horror remake, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which took in $10.6 million and $3,509 per-screen. Within the genre, it also debuted alongside Freddy vs. Jason ($14.0 million - $4,647 per-screen) and Scream 2 ($14.4 million - $4,621 per-screen).

Its holdup throughout the weekend is likely to be similar to Freddy or Scream 2. A Saturday increase is not a strong chance, but possible, with the figure likely to be $14.5 - 15.0 million. With a 32 - 40% difference between Friday and Sunday likely, The Grudge is heading for a weekend take of roughly $39 - 41 million.

Ben Affleck is trying real hard to be accepted by moviegoers, and it just ain?t working. His lighthearted spring romantic comedy, Jersey Girl, opened to a solid $3.0 million (on opening day) having only been booked in 1,520 theaters, averaging $1,965 per-screen. The movie earned $8.3 million that weekend and finished with an unexciting $25.3 million. And though Paycheck eventually made $53.8 million after a just-okay $13.5 million debut, it was a long cry from the $102.5 million finish of Daredevil (and the $40.3 million debut).

His latest entry, the holiday comedy, Surviving Christmas, bombed to the extent of Gigli even with a solid cast. Taking in $1.4 million on Friday, the DreamWorks picture averaged a terrible $518 per-screen. In comparison, the Affleck/Jennifer Lopez drama, Gigli, raked in all of $1.5 million on its opening day, averaging $655 per-screen, and finished the weekend with $3.8 million. Affleck is obviously in need of his own Bourne-like project.

Gigli dropped 10% on Saturday and had an overload of negative buzz and reviews. Similarly, Surviving Christmas has horrible reviews working against it, but its partial aim at families might give it enough to crack $4.0 million over the three days. The movie?s ad campaign portrayed a very broad comedy, and even with one of the queens of the genre, Catherine O?Hara, attached (back from her days in Home Alone), the movie just came off too stupid in its advertising. Saturday could be $2.0 million if it?s really lucky, or perhaps roughly $1.8 million as a safe bet, which should lead to a weekend of $4.0 - 4.5 million.
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'The Grudge' Articles
  • Greg's The Grudge review B
    October 30, 2004    If you go into the film expecting to be scared out of your mind, you will be disappointed; if you want jumps and a chilling atmosphere, I consider this a good choice. -- Greg Ward