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Weekend Briefing: 'Nightmare' Aims for High Body Count

by Brandon Gray
A Nightmare on Elm Street
 

 
April 29, 2010

With Tony Stark looming, Freddy Krueger gets resurrected with A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) this weekend, ripping onto approximately 4,700 screens at 3,332 locations. Another nightmare is inflicted upon Brendan Fraser in kids movie Furry Vengeance, which breaks ground at 2,997 sites.

Freddy Krueger is the last of the major 1980s slashers to be remade, and the character was arguably the most popular: the franchise's eight movies have totaled $307.4 million (or over $540 million adjusted for ticket price inflation), giving it a higher per movie average but a lower total than the more prolific Jason Voorhies and Michael Myers. However, Freddy's also the trickiest to resurrect, given that the character is strongly associated with actor Robert Englund and that he was quite verbose. The silent, masked and anonymous Michael, Jason and Leatherface were far easier to deal with, which is why they made the remake cut first.

To assuage concerns, an actor of some heft was enlisted to fill Mr. Englund's glove: Jackie Earle Haley, whose career predates Freddy with 1970s movies like The Bad News Bears and Breaking Away. Mr. Haley's well-received recent work in Little Children and Watchmen seems to have primed him for Freddy.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre drew first blood in the current horror remake frenzy. Released in Oct. 2003, it opened to $28.1 million and ultimately served up $80.6 million. Halloween (2007) followed and pulled in $26.4 million its first weekend and closed with $58.3 million. Last year, Friday the 13th (2009) was unleashed with a $40.6 million start but rapidly bled out to a $65 million final tally. The new Nightmare is from the same producer as the Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes: Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes banner.

Predating all of this, both Freddy and Jason came off the bench for Freddy Vs. Jason (note Freddy had top billing despite being a younger franchise), which smashed into theaters in Aug. 2003. It grabbed $36.4 million out of the gate and went on to gross $82.6 million in total. The year before that, Jason was brought back for Jason X, which had an end-of-April launch like the Nightmare remake but only mustered a $6.6 million start and was buried at just $13.1 million.

The previous opening weekend highs for Freddy on his own were A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, each with the equivalent of over $24 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. What's more, the market has been relatively potent for the return of lesser slashers in such remakes as My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Prom Night (2008) and When a Stranger Calls, although there was no rush for the last one, Sorority Row.

In Box Office Mojo's "When will you see it?" polling, A Nightmare on Elm Street has scored a 27 percent first weekend response, which is in the same range as past horror titles Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV and Halloween (2007), but a bit less than Friday the 13th (2009)'s 30.5 percent.

Kids critter comedy Furry Vengeance is an entry in an often popular sub-genre that includes pictures like the Doctor Dolittle movies, Mouse Hunt and Kangaroo Jack. In a statement to Box Office Mojo, distributor Summit Entertainment said they originally wanted to release Furry on Easter weekend, but ultimately didn't want to open in the wake of How to Train Your Dragon nor too close to Shrek Forever After, hence the April 30 date.

Summit considers Furry's comparables to be Underdog, Aliens in the Attic, Shorts and The Spy Next Door, and Box Office Mojo's readers have indicated approximately the same level of interest as most of those movies. Summit also reported that the movie is predictably tracking best with kids under 12 years old and their parents/families.

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Bankability Breakdown: Brendan Fraser
2010 Preview: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Last Weekend
'Dragons' Dominate by Default

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2009 - Moviegoers Fixate on 'Obsessed'
2008 - 'Baby Mama,' 'Harold & Kumar' Yuk It Up
2007 - 'Disturbia' Tops Idle Weekend
2006 - 'United 93' Doesn't Match Press Hype
2005 - 'Hitchhiker' Beams, 'XXX' Reamed

2004 - 'Mean Girls' Surprisingly Nice

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