Friday The 13th Is Lucky After All

Jason slays the box office competition

Altogether now: “Voorhees a jolly good fellow, Voorhees a jolly good fellow, Voorhees a jolly good fellooooooowwwww! Which nobody can deny, at least not after an astonishing opening weekend for the remake of Friday The 13th, which saw the return of psychopathic killer Jason Voorhees scare up $42.2 million.”

Hmm… doesn’t quite scan, that last bit. Anyway, the opening for the new Friday is the biggest opening weekend for any horror movie in the history of history, beating out The Grudge’s $39 million (which was set in 2004) and the previous highest total for the Friday the 13th franchise, 2003’s Freddy Vs Jason, which opened to $36 million. And, despite pretty ropey reviews, that number alone should be more than enough to ensure that Jason comes back for more.

The Marcus Nispel-produced, Michael Bay-directed remake of the 1980 original (with bits of Parts 2 and 3 thrown in for good measure) cost only $19 million to make, and recouped that in its first day alone, with a take of $19.2 million.

It dropped off substantially on Saturday and Sunday, which doesn’t augur well for the second weekend and any early predictions that it might hit the hundred million dollar mark. And that big opening number might also be explained by the presence of the Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen teaser trailer, which debuted exclusively in front of Friday prints and which almost certainly drew geeks out of the woodwork.

Jason had the number one spot all to himself, but second place might not be entirely cut and dried.

Estimates currently place last week’s number one, He’s Just Not That Into You, at no. 2, with the Valentine’s Day crowds pushing the ensemble rom-com to a take of $19.6 million, a drop of just 29.4% from last weekend. Impressive. Most impressive.

Yet Liam Neeson refuses to be beaten. Neeson’s brutal revenge thriller, Taken, in which he plays a character so hard that he would kick Jason’s arse without batting an eyelid, has been a sleeper sensation in the States so far, as evidenced by its gross of $19.25 million this weekend. That’s a drop of just 6% from last weekend, and it gives the previously unheralded Fox release $77.9 million after three weeks. When the dust settles, and the final numbers are in, don’t be surprised to see the cast of He’s Just Not That Into You standing around, with swollen cheeks and blackened eyes, wondering what the hell happened.

Disney’s Confessions Of A Shopaholic – the first film to feature the delightful Isla Fisher in the lead role – fared less well with the date crowd this weekend, pulling in a slightly disappointing $15 million. Mind you, if you’d told us a few years ago that Shannon from Home & Away would be starring in a movie that opened to ‘only’ $15 million at the US box office, we’d have said you were mad; everyone knows that Craig McLachlan is the Home & Away star destined for true greatness.

Confessions may have suffered somewhat by a general reluctance, in the current financial climate, to see someone spend spend spending on the big screen (although, as is rapidly becoming clear, the movie industry is one of the few that’s not feeling the pinch, with attendances and takings on the up). We would have expected the reverse effect for Tom Tykwer’s thriller, The International, in which Clive Owen and Naomi Watts discover that – gasp! – bankers are a pack of lying, scheming, cheating… well, bankers.

However, perhaps put off by a trailer that made it seem like every other thriller that’s ever been released, audiences stayed away, giving The International a disappointing opening of just $10 million.

That put it behind Coraline and the ever-enduring Kevin James comedy, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which actually increased its gross from last week to pull in $11.7 million, officially crossing the $100 million barrier as it did so.

And, in a week marked by tiny drop-offs, Danny Boyle’s Oscar favourite, Slumdog Millionaire, fell just 0.4% for a haul of $7.15 million. It now has $86 million and, if it bags Best Picture, as is now widely expected, $100 million is inevitable.

With America celebrating Presidents’ Day on Monday, it’s a four-day weekend this week, so the final numbers won’t be released for another day or so. Check back to see if anything has changed.

Next week, it’s a pretty low-key weekend, with teen comedy Fired Up and Tyler Perry’s latest, Madea Goes To Jail, the only wide releases. Perry always attracts a decent audience, though, so it’s hard to gauge how this one will do. But don’t be surprised to see that Liam Neeson has Taken the top spot by this time next weekend…