Friday the 13th was the nation's bloody Valentine during not only the busiest President's Day weekend ever but the biggest February weekend on record, no matter how one slices it. Propelled by the slasher remake and hearty holdovers like He's Just Not That Into You and Taken, overall business spurted up 31 percent over the same four-day timeframe last year to a bustling $220 million.
With $43.6 million on approximately 4,000 screens at 3,105 sites over the four-day weekend, Friday the 13th skewered the starts of its franchise predecessors, over one and a half times the opening attendance of the series at its peak, and it handily out-grossed the debut of Halloween (2007). It also delivered the top-grossing opening for a horror remake and for a slasher movie and had the fourth highest President's Day weekend debut ever, behind Ghost Rider, 50 First Dates and Daredevil. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, though, Scream 2, Scream 3 and Freddy Vs. Jason had higher initial attendance, and, unadjusted for inflation, there have been bigger horror openings, including I Am Legend, Signs and The Village.
Horror remakes have been gushing at the box office since the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003. Resurrecting these brands has been a quick and easy way for producers to generate revenue, as they don't require much creativity and they have a built-in audience, from adults who remember the scares from their youth to the youths who have been raised on the legend of these supposedly scary movies. Indeed, Friday the 13th's opening day alone on Friday the 13th matched the picture's production budget with a $19.3 million haul. Many more horror remakes are in the works, including A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Friday the 13th was marketed as the event of all slasher movies and ads promised a rollercoaster rush. Horror can appeal to both genders equally, making Friday the 13th more of a date movie in many circles than He's Just Not That Into You or Confessions of a Shopaholic, which each heavily skewed female. Distributor Warner Bros.' exit polling bore this out, showing an audience composition of 51 percent male and 59 percent 25 years and older.
Also debuting, Confessions of a Shopaholic rang up $17.8 million over the four-day weekend on around 2,800 screens at 2,507 venues, faring much better than The Nanny Diaries but failing to reach the opening heights of The Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde or even Bride Wars after months of promotion. Confessions's marketing strained to sell the picture as a romantic comedy, a career comedy and a candy-colored shopping spree all in one and the lack of focus and relatability weakened it in the wake of He's Just Not That Into You and other recent female-driven movies. According to distributor Walt Disney Pictures' research, 74 percent of the audience was female and 51 percent was under 25.
Few paid to see The International, which banked a modest $10.7 million on close to 2,600 screens at 2,364 locations over the four-day weekend. The ad campaign emphasized some nefarious bank and generic thriller action, but the human element was missing to draw in moviegoers. This was typified by the movie's poster, which featured the curves of the Guggenheim with a tiny shot of actors Clive Owen and Naomi Watts in the corner. Distributor Sony Pictures' exit polling indicated that 59 percent of the audience was male and 66 percent was over 30.