Leave it to death to breathe the last bit of life into the summer movie season. ‘Annabelle: Creation’ the prequel to ‘Annabelle’ a spin-off from the popular ‘Conjuring’ series has exceeded expectation. On a minuscule budget of $15M, the film scared up a hefty $35M. Warner Brothers and New Line have hit on a winning formula with these low budget, but high quality horror flicks that appeal to a broad audience, especially younger females who travel in packs. 28% of audiences were made up of under 25 year-old females attending with two or more friends.
One key to ‘Annabelle”s success was in emphasizing the straight horror aspect of the film. It was made clear that this was not another ‘Chucky’ movie. According to social media tracking site Relish Mix, “There are plenty of shout-outs from moviegoers who are just plain scared of dolls – and Creation seems to have hit a nerve with them, in a very good way.”
The critical reviews are better than average at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. The ComScore poll among viewers is a better 80% in line with its CinemaScore which is a solid B. New Line and Warner Bros. knew they had the goods. They premiered ‘Annabelle: Creation’ at the Los Angeles Film Festival– not a practice normally applied to horror movies– and the critics there were blown away, giving this film a 100% Freshness Rotten Tomatoes ratings. (The numbers dipped once it was screened for other members of the press nationwide prior to its release.) The film was also previewed for audiences at San Diego Comic Con and simultaneously satellite screened at 26 other theaters across the country.
In a VERY unusual move for a horror movie, the film’s Catholic themes are drawing in the faith-based crowd– which WB and LG actively courted– and the film is expected to do extremely well in the largely Catholic parts of the world like South America and Europe.
Though ‘Creation’ opened a little lower than the first ‘Annabelle’, the reaction has been better and without another major film opening for a few weeks, positive word of mouth could push ‘Creation”s total gross past the first film’s.
In second place, ”Dunkirk’ continues to thrive thanks to the great reaction from both critics and fans. Its chances of nabbing some major awards nominations look better with each passing week. ‘Dunkirk’, directed by Christopher Nolan, is in its fourth week and still holding strong.
This summer has been packed with family fare, most of which are parts of proven brands, like ‘Despicable Me 3’ and ‘Cars 3’. I don’t even remember ‘The Nut Job’, but the sequel ‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature’ managed to take the #3 spot with $8.9M. Speaking of family movies, ‘The Emoji Movie’ managed to cling to the Top Five, making an additional $6.6M.
The poorly received ‘The Dark Tower’ has toppled to #4 after only one week at #1.
- Annabelle: Creation (New Line/Warner Brothers) – $35M
- Dunkirk (Warner Brothers) – $11.4M
- The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature (Open Road) – $8.9M
- The Dark Tower (SONY) – $7.88M
- The Emoji Movie (SONY) – $6.6M
Though it slipped out of the Top Five, ‘Girls Trip’ generated an additional $6.5M bringing its grand total to $97.2M, and should hit $100M within the next week or so, which would make it the highest grossing comedy of the year. For whatever reason, it’s been a harsh year for comedies. ‘The House’ starred former guaranteed draws Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler didn’t even crack the Top Five. ‘Baywatch’ was one of the most hyped movies of the summer, yet belly flopped. So ‘Girls Trip”s success is quite impressive, especially since by many it is seen as a niche film, aimed mainly at African American women.
The Dog Days are truly upon us. For one thing, school is back in session in some areas and more and more will be starting up by the time September rolls around. NOTHING worth noting will be opening until ‘It’ on September 8.
But speaking of comedies, there are two coming out next week that may prove to be dark horse successes. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson star in ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’, while Steven Soderbergh’s latest comedic heist movie, ‘Logan Lucky’ with an all-star cast including Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston and more is being described as a “redneck ‘Ocean’s 11’.”
Overall, this summer is down 11% from last year’s summer tally. There are many possible explanations. One is that the summer season is simply overstuffed with at least one potential new blockbuster opening every single weekend. Movies tend to be economy proof. Even at the worst of times, people can usually afford to hit the multiplex, but maybe not every single weekend. So film goers are rationing their movie money and picking only the “must-see” titles and bypassing those that they might have had an interest in at a different time, but with “so-and-so” opening the next weekend, they’re saving for that experience.
Another is the dreaded Franchise Fatigue that has been building for a few years now. Unless it’s somehow Disney-related– including Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel– audiences are getting bored with long-in-the-tooth brands, resulting in lackluster performances by the latest installments in the ‘Transformers’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and other series. Fans are even turning away from new movies that they know are intended to kick off franchises, like the previously mentioned ‘Baywatch’ as well as Universal’s ‘The Mummy’.
And many Hollywood insiders are turning their ire toward Rotten Tomatoes. Many people don’t read full reviews, but with a few strokes on a smartphone, anyone can get the gist of whether a movie is worth seeing or not. The same holds true for social media. Once the first audiences see a film, all of their friends know instantly whether or not to check out a certain film. Studios, producers, and directors are discovering to their chagrin that they can no longer crank out mediocrity and hope that marketing is enough to entice audiences.
Anyway… like I said, it’ll be a few weeks before we see many shake-ups, but check back and see if any surprises occur.