Weekend Box Office: “Dreadful,” But Certainly Not “Full of Dredd”

Because Luke was on vacation this weekend, I’ll have to step in for today to cover his box office recap. Doing so just reaffirms that I have absolutely no idea why people pay to see certain movies and not others.

Take, for example, the two movies that tied for first place: ‘End of Watch‘ and ‘House at the End of the Street‘ with $13 million each. I don’t think I’ve seen any advertising for either of these pictures on TV. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of ‘House of the End of the Street’ at all until it opened on Friday. Sure, it stars Jennifer Lawrence, whose career is hot right now from ‘The Hunger Games’, but it looks like some piece of crap she made a couple years ago that had been sitting on the studio shelf until now. I had at least seen one trailer for ‘End of Watch’. It didn’t look particularly good or (more importantly) like anything that would have much broad audience appeal. I realize that the entire week’s box office is pretty poor, and $13 million isn’t a lot of money for either of these pictures to have pulled in, but I’m still mystified that anyone went to see them. Both of these look like direct-to-video fodder.

Meanwhile, the movie that was expected to open in the top spot totally flopped. Even with the 3D ticket surcharge, ‘Dredd‘ debuted at a pathetic sixth place with barely $6.3 million. This is disastrous, and I can’t figure out why. This is a slick-looking sci-fi action movie with lots of shooting and explosions and CGI. The buzz from fan circles seemed strong, and Lionsgate advertised the hell out of the movie in recent weeks. Why didn’t anyone want to see it? Was it the lack of any major stars? (Karl Urban is a great supporting actor, but perhaps he’s not ready to be a lead yet.) Were potential viewers afraid that it would be too much like the old Sylvester Stallone cheesefest that it reboots? Did the R rating kill it?

More than twice as many people went to see terribly-reviewed and very dull-looking baseball movie ‘Trouble with the Curve‘. I guess that even an elderly, slightly batty Clint Eastwood still has box office appeal. I still like Clint, but I feel kind of embarrassed for him after that “Old Man Yells at Chair” debacle at the RNC recently. I don’t pay attention to such things; did the Tea Party organize a ticket-buying campaign to support him?

Finding Nemo 3D‘ swam to fourth place in its second weekend. This is a 43% drop from the first weekend, which some pundits are claiming is a big disappointment in comparison to more successful 3D re-releases such as ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Titanic’. Personally, I find that perspective a little wonky. This is a 9-year-old movie that kids have watched endlessly on DVD in the meantime. Isn’t any amount of money the re-release earns just gravy for the studio? The $30 million it’s pulled in so far should be more than enough to cover the expense of the 3D conversion.

More troubling is the 68% drop-off for ‘Resident Evil: Retribution‘, which slid from first to fifth place. Is this zombie franchise on its last legs?

In the #7 slot is Paul Thomas Anderson’s much-buzzed ‘The Master‘, which expanded to 788 theaters after making news about shattering per-screen average records the previous week. The new number ($5 million, or $6,345 per screen) is fairly decent, but not nearly as impressive. With very divisive critical and audience reaction (this seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it project), the film is not expected to do as well as Anderson’s last, ‘There Will Be Blood’.

This just confirms for me what I’ve long believed, that per-screen averages are meaningless statistics that have no bearing on a film’s overall box office prospects. If a movie only plays on two screens, everyone in a city who wants to see that movie will go to those two theaters, thus inflating the per-screen average. Yet if the movie plays on fifty screens in the same area, the city may still have the same number of people who want to see it, no matter how many screens it’s on. There is no linear correlation between the number of screens a movie is distributed to and the number of people who will pay to see it.

Top 10:

1. (Tie) ‘End of Watch’ (Open Road) – $13 million
‘House at the End of the Street’ (Relativity) – $13 million

3. ‘Trouble with the Curve’ (Warner Bros.) – $12.7 million

4. ‘Finding Nemo (3D)’ (Buena Vista) – $9.4 million

5. ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ (Screen Gems) – $6.7 million

6. ‘Dredd’ (Lionsgate) – $6.3 million

7. ‘The Master’ (Weinstein) – $5 million

8. ‘The Possession’ (Lionsgate) – $2.6 million

9. ‘Lawless’ (Weinstein) – $2.3 million

10. ‘ParaNorman’ (Focus) – $2.29 million


  1. William Henley

    I saw “Trouble With The Curve” and thought it was fantastic. In fact, with the exception of reviewers, everyone I know who saw it has given it great reviews. I know Luke gave it 2 stars. I think 3.5-4 stars is what I would rate it. The movie had a strong story, great actors, awesome direction, beautiful photography. I honestly do not know why reviewers are giving it such low ratings.

    As for “Dredd”, this is the first I have heard of it. I am not familer with the source material, but it sounds interesting. However, whenever a movie is rated R, I always am reserved, wanting to know just why it was given that rating.

  2. Chaz

    Why would you be “reserved” about an R rated title? You are an adult right? Thats definitely a weird response if you ask me.

    Rated R in my book means it isnt a watered down Hollywood cash grab, which 90% of the PG-13 movies are, take House at the End of the Street, cash grab on Lawrence’s current success, most reviews have been very bad for it, netting a 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, Dredd on the other hand has a nice 77% from critics, which is usually unheard of for such a low budget and violent action movie.

    Needless to say I easily gave my money to Dredd, and it was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, gave me everything that I wanted and more and its a real shame that it did so bad, it only cost $40 Million to make and I thought for sure it would do better, I saw tons of advertising for it (as I have for End of Watch too) and it hits the same demographic that Expendables does, where were the guys that love action movies at? I guess we arent very many anymore, I love Karl Urban but he isnt exactly a leading man to most anyone, to me he’s up there with say, Jason Statham as one of the best action guys going right now, Ive loved every role he’s done 🙂

    • William Henley

      Very simple – there is some material I just don’t want to see. Doesn’t mean all R rated movies are bad or something I don’t want to see.

      Likewise, if a movie recieves a G rating, I wonder if its watered down too much. Not that all G movies are bad.

      I mean, if an action movie were to get a G rating, and a kids movie gets PG-13, you normally back up and go “Wait a minute”. Doesn’t mean its bad, look at Harry Potter.

      No, just because a movie is rated R doesn’t mean it’s bad – some of my favorite movies are rated R. Sometimes it adds to the story – Demolition Man, Terminator, Total Recall, Passion of the Christ, Last Samurai, Braveheart, The Patriot, all great examples of movies that are rated R that I like.

      Pretty much, I have an issue with a movie that goes over the top with content – overly violent, over use of nudity (especially if it adds nothing to the story), over-use of sex-scenes (especially if they are overly graphic), over-use of foul language (some is okay, and sometimes helps move the story – the foul language out of John Connors mouth in the second Terminator movie helps define the character).

      So, in other words, when a movie recieves like an R rating, I normally look at why it has recieved the rating.

      This is also important if you are watching a movie in public. Sometimes when things get really dead at work, I pop a movie on on my tablet or something. I work in an industry that is generally known that you have periods of very busy times, followed by times when there is absolutely nothing going on. If a movie has nudity, underwear, or sex in it, though, I could get fired under a sexual harrassment lawsuit. As such, G and PG movies are generally safe, but I have to start looking at content on PG-13 and R rated titles.

      Another thing, like Friday, I went to the theater across from my church because I got out of the church at 5 working at a conference, and was still in my branded church uniform. I went to the theater because the church is in some of the worst traffic areas in the state, and didn’t want to battle traffic. I had to pay attention to ratings and content because, like it or not, I was representing the church because I was still in uniform.

  3. Jon D

    Maybe with this and the failure of Total Recall Hollywood might figure out that people are getting sick of pointless CGI laden remakes of recent movies.

    • If you knew anything about Dredd you would know that its about as far from a pointless CGI laden remake that you can get, its a low budget, gritty action flick with real sets and barely any CG at all, some shots of the city are enhanced and so are some of the slow mo bullet shots and stuff, but everything is practical FX and awesome sets 🙂

  4. Deaditelord

    When you consider the growing number of moviegoers that have a home theater system and then factor in the ridiculous cost of just buying a single ticket, I think many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to justify spending upwards of $12 per person (assuming you don’t buy anything from the concession stand) to watch a movie, especially one that’s not a proven hit. They are probably doing what I often do which is to wait until the movie is available to rent on DVD/Blu-ray. It’s here that I suspect Dredd will discover it’s fan base.

    Personally, films like Dredd that don’t have a large, built-in audience really need to be released both theatrically and as an HD rental on streaming services like VUDU and Amazon for $8 – $10. At that price, I’d be willing to bet that many of those who were on the fence would be far more inclined to take a chance on something new. I know I would.

  5. motorheadache

    Dredd was awesome. AWESOME. I’m really disappointed it tanked. My speculation is that the movie just couldn’t shake off the stigma of the old cheesy Stallone version.

    Hopefully word of mouth will catch on and sell more tickets in the next couple of weeks as well as push home video sales. I know I’ll be buying the Blu-Ray on release day to support it.

    • I think Dredd just isnt a big name for a lot of people either, he isnt a popular character outside of fans really and most people probably dont even remember Stallone did a Judge Dredd movie 😉

      My guess is that it just wasnt the right material for most people, slow motion action, a gruff speaking bad ass law enforcer, it just doesnt hit the mainstream like a PG-13 thriller does or a cop movie from the guy who did Training Day. But I’m sure it will pull some more money over seas and DVD will probably have it flying off the shelves, movies like that do far better when they hit home 🙂

  6. Dredd was awesome. AWESOME. I’m really disappointed it tanked. My speculation is that the movie just couldn’t shake off the stigma of the old cheesy Stallone version.

    Hopefully word of mouth will catch on and sell more tickets in the next couple of weeks as well as push home video sales. I know I’ll be buying the Blu-Ray on release day to support it.