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Show (Business) Crash: After A Flop-Filled Weekend

It’s the weekend that proved… what, exactly? As Fright Night, Spy Kids: All The Time In The World and Conan all bombed ay the box office, it’s tempting to draw some kind of larger conclusion from what turned out to be a brutal weekend for genre properties, but I’ll be damned if I really know what that larger conclusion could be.

After a weekend that saw the three highest profile new releases flop with moviegoers – while The Help continued to draw them in without any trouble whatsoever – all manner of expert commentary and insight is being spent letting us know that something happened over the last few days. The problem is, no-one seems to know just what that something actually is. Apparently, seeing remakes of Conan and Fright Night – two middling to cult properties at the best of times, at least in terms of movies – and a fourth Spy Kids movie featuring none of the original stars (and coming eight years after the last installment) dramatically underperform somehow means… Is it an inditement against remakes? Perhaps it’s a lesson to moviemakers from an audience growing sick of 3D! Or maybe something to do with ticket prices! Yeah, that’s right. Or was it a backlash against genre movies after a summer filled with them? Who can keep track anymore.

The correct answer is, of course, all of the above, and none of the above. I’m sure that there are elements of each and every explanation that people are offering for the mass failure of these particular three movies that hold true for different people, but each argument can also be disproven when unfolded across a larger canvas. What it really comes down to is more likely that people just didn’t want to watch those particular movies because none of them looked that great, and none of them had been hyped enough to overwhelm that particular level of apathy.

There’s nothing special about either these movies or the fact that they weren’t hits. The idea that the failure of any of these films is in any way important comes, of course, not from any of the films themselves – Did anyone really expect any of these to be massive hits? Honestly – but the fact that they all bombed on exactly the same weekend. That might be the lesson for movie execs, really; that midlevel genre flicks should really be spaced out, so that they can fail quietly, and no-one would bat an eyelid.


  • Allen

    I loved the beggining of Conan and then it all went downhill after that…

  • Kurumais

    i didnt go see conan because im sick of 3d 

  • E.

    maybe if they stop rehashing shitty movies, people will go see them.

  • UltraS28

    A smart conclusion would be that a lot of people were on their summer vacations before school went back into session…

  • Jim

    Exactly this. This weekend’s box office doesn’t have to be analyzed any deeper than the fact that people are sick of remakes, regardless of whether or not the remakes in question might be good.

  • Jacob

    Did you do any research at all on this? Let me break some things down for you:

    Conan – Not yet released worldwide. The 10 million was purely domestic. The majority of Box Office grosses normally come internationally. 10 million in the opening weekend on a 90 million budget? Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Very likely to improve in the coming weeks.

    Fright Night – 30 million budget, 8 million gross. Nearly one-third of the total budget in the opening weekend? Not bad.

    Spy Kids 4 – 27 million budget. 12 million gross. Nearly half of the budget in the opening weekend. (also, the two main stars returned for this installment) Very not bad.

  • lleogurl

    My son begged me to see Spy kids and I refused to for one reason only. Jessica Albas awful and annoying delivery of the line, “babys first bad guyyyyyyyy” in the trailor….

  • Cinemafantastica

    Is it possible for this guy to ever write something with a positive angle?

  • Jacob

    Yes, he’s done it several times. And he’ll probably start doing it weekly again on Saturday/Sunday when Doctor Who returns.

  • Jason

    There’s more costs to the producers who fund films than just productions costs. Films have marketing and distribution costs. For example, there was a lot of money spent on an ad campaign for Fright Night that did not pay off….just something to consider. That’s why they are flops. 

  • Mak

    You could watch the Non-3D version.

  • Seamus

    He spelled indictment wrong, so his opinion has been rendered invalid.

  • Jacob

    And there’s more to a movies gross than just the Box Office. All three of these will probably do very well on home video.

  • ハワード ジョセフ

    What a parent. *slow clap*

  • ハワード ジョセフ

    Your name is “Seamus,” so nobody cares about your ad hominem argument.

  • Frequentcontributor

    Who expected them to be box office smashes? They’re not exactly huge properties, and they’ll probably just slowly continue to make money for years on DVD and cable and around the world. Is it so disastrous that some average-looking time wasters made an average amount of money?

  • Evil_s2003

    I’m sick of remakes and sick of 3D.
    I’m sick of every time I go to the movies I look at the posters for upcoming movies I see my DVD collection. I can’t get excited to see a second rate remake of a movie I love. I want to see something new.
    And 3D just needs to go away.

  • Cjorg2

    That’s a pretty stupid reason, seeing as you could just see it in 2D like I did.

  • Cjorg2

    I disagree – although the ending was somewhat anti-climactic, I thought it was entertaining and pretty much fit the bill for a sword and sorcery action/ adventure film.

  • Jmcreer

    Is it too obvious to point out that Conan the Barbarian is not at all a remake.  It’s an adaptation of the short stories and books, and takes a lot from the recent Dark Horse Comics run.  It has little at all to do with the 1982 film.  But feel free to leap to assumptions.

  • Jmcreer

    McMillan and Box Office Mojo are overlooking the fact that Conan the Barbarian is also an R rated film – I think 10 million is pretty good for a restricted film.  I doubt the producers were expecting Transformers or Thor dollars.

    I expect Conan the Barbarian to be a slow burning film that will make a profit over a lengthy international release and DVD/ Bluray.  Which is probably EXACTLY what the producers are hoping.

  • Cjorg2

    I’m sick of how sick you are of remakes.  I wouldn’t exactly call the original Fright Night and Spy Kids quality films anyway (I definitely don’t have a space on the shelf for them).

    And Conan the Barbarian isn’t a remake anyway.  It’s based on the books and comics.


    but I’ll be damned if I really know what that larger conclusion could be.

    you not draw a conclusiuons based on your illogical assumptions and doomsaying  portents?  THIS IS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST QUESTION? WHY STOP NOW?

  • Nataniel Costard

    For people who doesn`t spend their nights on the internet answering comments in comic-book forums (that is, most of the world), Conan is just a remake of a very tipical eghties action movie, but without Arnold.

  • DTfan

    I am hopeful that Fright Night will do better in UK when it opens in September.  David Tennant (Peter Vincent) is very much loved here, as the fact that his current London stage production of Much Ado About Nothing being completely sold out very early on proves.  His British fans, and he also has many international fans, have been waiting eagerly for Fright Night.  And the Youtube clips look promising.
    Another thing to consider is how many screens are the less well performing films being shown on compared to The Help?  Some years ago I wanted to see a film which was released at the same time as Jurassic Park.  My film was considered a flop compared to Jurassic Park.  Out of curiosity I looked on Teletext (tv information pages) and looked at the cinema listings for the south of England.  No other film was on at as many cinemas as Jurassic Park.  So the film chart positions literally mirrored how many cinemas were showing the film.  Number 1 was on at the most places, number 10 was on at very few.  Could something similar be happening on this occasion?

  • Greenie

    oviously, you know nothing of what you speak: 10million is awful. it’s a catastrophe: it can’t recover from here. to break even-not to make a profit, just to break even- conan has to make 180 millions: that is because half the profits are shared with the theater owner. and that doesn’t even include distribution or marketing costs. technically, conan should make around 200 millions before starting to make a cent. as for the international gross, stufios only get around a third of it, because of the additional fees of local distributors. an opening week end for a poorly received movie is usually half the entire goss the movie will make -since the theater owners will cease the exploitation of the movie sooner. the movie will make around twenty million dollars: that’s one of the biggest bomb in movie didn’t even manage to get in the top three on its opening week end WHEN THE NUMBER ONE SPOT IS A MOVIE RELEASED THREE WEEKS AGO, without marketing or the budget of conan. it’s apure catastrophe: that’s why everyone is talking about it now: people are going to be fired are carriers are going to be broken.sad, but true.

  • Stymie The Invincible

    I think a big reason is quality of the films in general as well ticket prices. Of these movies Fright Night was the bomb that has been getting praise from viewers, critics, and reviewers. I think what helped it bomb was the fact that it was a remake of an old (and beloved by a certain following) 80s horror film. Many didn’t want to take it in on the level of it being another remake. Some are awaiting word of mouth. Others (like me) haven’t seen it on a purely economical sense. The way ticket prices are these days, I’ve had to become rather choosy of what I pay to see in the theater. And when much of the 3D that’s put out is the crappy converted 3D that’s not even worth the extra moolah for the glasses, it ruins the experience of all other 3D films and people become cautious. I’ve only seen 3 films in Real 3D (I usually opt for the 2D) and have seen one in the converted format. That one converted film was a horrible experience and did nothing for the film.

    But the thing about remakes doesn’t exactly hold all that much water more than it’s the QUALITY of the movie/remake in question. Last movie I saw was the prequel/reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. No it’s not a remake, but it does bring back an old classic franchise with a new take. But look at the way it was received. Audiences and critics loved it…as did I. And look at the way it ruled the box-office charts in the weeks since it was released until The Help dethroned it. The Help…a movie with a quality story that is #1 this weekend without any of the remake/3D/summer blockbuster cache of the other films surrounding it. 
    Whereas Fright Night has bombed it’s opening weekend, it’s still getting fairly good reviews from reviewers and good reactions from the people that have seen it. Conan The Barbarian is getting trashed in reviews/audience reactions, however. Many feel it’s nothing more than a blood and guts slash ‘em up with zero substance tailor made for the SyFy Channel. Have to say, just from the trailer for it, I had very little want to see it, so I didn’t go. The quality didn’t look all that good. Same with the new Spy Kids movie. As sexy as I think Jessica Alba is and as much as I like Robert Rodriguez’ films, I stayed away from the overtly cgi Spy Kids because it didn’t look worthy of the ticket price. 
    I think audiences are not only sick of remakes and crappy 3D where you have to pay extra money on top of an already inflated ticket price, but more to the point they are sick of mediocre quality films above all else. The successes of The Help and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes are testament that audiences want quality films overall and will spend the money on the tickets for those quality films. They’ll see the writing on the wall for the mediocre ones and just wait to Redbox those if even see them at all.

  • Jim

    Yeah, um, considering I actually saw the movie this weekend, I wasn’t leaping to assumptions. And as another poster pointed out, the majority of people view it as a remake, or at least a reboot, considering it has the exact same name. But, you know, you go ahead and feel free to leap to assumptions of your own.

  • Lady’sMan217

    People have budgets, and they’re generally reserved for the big tentpole films. Also, based on the trailers, Conan looked like nothing new.

  • Mel

    I totally agree.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not also forget Fright Night was released in 3D which had elevated ticket cost.  That makes it current numbers worse than they look now! Perhaps Hollwood will get the idea that we are tired of our movies being remade constantly.

  • Cjorg2

    I think you both underestimate the general audience.  So if they make a new Tarzan film they’re doing a remake of Disney’s Tarzan?  Any Zorro film they make in the future is a remake?  Batman Begins was a remake of Tim Burton’s Batman?  Superman Man of Steel is a remake of Superman Returns?  Incredible Hulk a remake of Ang lee’s Hulk?  Prety much everyone knew True Grit wasn’t a remake of True Grit.

    The audience is smarter than you think – I think that was the idea of the previous comment, that fanboys “assume” the audience isn’t as smart or cluey about popular culture than they are. And that’s a mistake – they are.  The R rating, and lack of a recognizable star, most likely kept a lot of fans away – not that it was seen as a “remake.”

  • Nataniel Costard

    Zorro would be a remake of the old tv show, as would be any version of the Hulk. I know what you are saying, but I do believe there are certain iconic versions (usually tv ones) that became the “rule” for general public, just as Tim Burton’s Batman was a remake of Adam West’s version at the time.

    And I agree that the remake factor had nothing to do with the flopping of the film.