Weekend Report: 'Nightmare' Wakes Up in Top Spot
Burning through one of the most front-loaded opening weekends on record, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) boiled atop the box office with $32.9 million on approximately 4,700 screens at 3,332 sites. Beneath Freddy's latest resurrection, Furry Vengeance got razed in its debut, but the holdovers couldn't pick up enough slack for an up weekend: overall business was down around ten percent from the late April weekend last year.

The Nightmare on Elm Street remake saw greater initial attendance than Halloween (2007), and it was a personal best for Freddy Krueger in a solo outing. It even out-grossed the entire runs of the first, second, fifth and seventh Nightmare movies (albeit not in terms of tickets sold). The debut was also a new horror high for either April or May, surpassing The Amityville Horror (2005), and it ranked sixth overall for the month of April.

The new Nightmare, though, delivered a lower opening body count than Friday the 13th (2009), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Freddy Vs. Jason. The Friday the 13th remake, which was from the same producer as Nightmare (Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes banner), nabbed $40.6 million on its first weekend and rapidly bled out to a $65 million final.

Friday accounted for nearly 47.6 percent of Friday the 13th's weekend gross, but Nightmare had a slightly greater Friday cut: it made $15.7 million or 47.8 percent of its weekend on Friday alone, ranking sixth on the all time list of most Friday-loaded first weekends, behind only The Grudge 2, Saw VI, the Twilight movies and Hannah Montana The Movie. Further indicating the rabidity of Freddy's followers, the picture boasted the horror midnight opening record with $1.6 million at 1,000 sites.

Nightmare distributor Warner Bros.' exit polling showed that the audience was evenly split between genders and that 40 percent was 18-24 years old and 20 percent was under 18. Given the popularity of the Nightmare franchise in general, anticipation was high for the reboot, but ultimately it was a trickier proposition than remaking a faceless killing machine like Jason due to Freddy actually being a character with dialogue. Nightmare remakers and marketers went for the same visually slick approach seen with many recent horror movies, and the trailer further dulled Freddy's fright impact by showing his origin, making him look like a possibly innocent victim running in fear from a mob.

Below par for a family critter comedy, Furry Vengeance sheared a measly $6.6 million at 2,997 locations, marking yet another kids movie disappointment for lead actor Brendan Fraser. Mr. Fraser has had only one hit in the genre, George of the Jungle, and perhaps Furry's intent was to recreate that success with him getting beat up again, like in George. But George's lumps were from clumsiness, whereas Fraser gets viciously attacked by animals in Furry after being set up as a nice guy. It was just cruel, and who wants to see that?

Furry Vengeance's marketing further alienated audiences with its beat-you-over-the-head environmentalist theme. There hasn't been a successful expressly environmentalist kids movie before. To be palatable, the message has to be delivered by subterfuge. Also limiting the movie was the fact that the animals didn't talk. People love talking animal movies, not half-baked anthropomorphization like in Furry. Distributor Summit Entertainment reported that the audience was 57 percent female and mostly family.

Last weekend's top-grossing picture, How to Train Your Dragon posted another strong showing. Down 31 percent, the animated adventure generated $10.6 million, lifting its total to $192.2 million in 38 days. It now trails Kung Fu Panda by about $10 million through the same point and continues to gain ground in its race to become DreamWorks Animation's highest-grossing non-Shrek movie.

Several other pictures held well or decently. Date Night had its smallest dip yet: 28 percent to $7.6 million for a $73.6 million total in 24 days. The Back-Up Plan took a fairly standard romantic comedy slip of 41 percent to $7.3 million for a $23 million tally in ten days. The Losers had a better-than-average second-weekend hold, off 37 percent to $5.9 million for an $18 million total in ten days. Clash of the Titans (2010) also lost relatively little ground, down 34 percent to $5.9 million for a $153.9 million tally in 31 days.

Oceans and Kick-Ass, on the other hand, took sizable hits. Oceans drained by 58 percent to $2.6 million, which was steeper than Earth (2009)'s 51 percent slide at the comparable point. Earth also had made much more than Oceans's $13.5 million ten-day haul. Kick-Ass was knocked down 52 percent to $4.5 million, bringing its total to $42.2 million in 17 days. As consolation, it's still on track to become the most-attended live-action, brazen superhero comedy on record.

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This Weekend in Box Office History

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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