10 Films with Hot Starts that Fizzled Out
When it comes to the box office, a lot of attention this summer has been given to how well a film performs in its second weekend after experiencing an initial surge during its opening weekend. Usually, a film that shows a second weekend drop in box office performance somewhere along the lines of 50 percent is considered normal — anything higher can be a sign of poor box office performance to come.
Man of Steel is a famous example of the summer, as the Superman reboot made $116 million in its opening weekend and dropped to $41 million in its second — a 65 percent drop. As a result, Man of Steel went from No. 1 at the box office to No. 3. Other summer films have had similar experiences: Universal Pictures’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Fast & Furious 6 dropped 63 percent; Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Iron Man 3 dropped 58 percent; and the micro-budget The Purge, also from Universal, dropped 75 percent.
So with all of this in mind, which films had the absolute worst drops from the No. 1 spot at the box office after its debut? Using this nifty chart from website Box Office Mojo, here are 10 films that only saw a glimpse of box office glory before sliding down the ladder in epic fashion.
10. Friday the 13th (2009), Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.’s (NYSE:TWX) 2009 horror flick Friday the 13th is a reboot of the famous Friday the 13th film series that began in 1980 and revolved around hockey-mask killer Jason Voorhees. The film follows Clay Miller as he searches for his missing sister, who disappeared while camping in the woods at Crystal Lake. The reboot introduced a quicker, more physically intimidating Jason while spending additional time on the killer’s origins.
The reboot was released Friday, February 13, 2009, and ended up making $40 million during its opening weekend despite mostly negative reviews — Rotten Tomatoes shows the film sitting at 25 percent “Fresh.” At the time, the $40 million opener was the biggest horror film opening of all time.
Now the interesting part: after its opening weekend, the film only made $25 million more, totaling $65 million. In the film’s second weekend, it made just under $8 million for a drop of about 80 percent in its second weekend, falling to sixth place at the box office as a result. Another fact: the film made 61 percent of its total domestic gross in its first weekend.
An 80 percent drop from the first to the second weekend, by the way, also puts the film in the top 10 list of movies with the highest percentage drop-off — which is an entirely different list altogether.
9. The Rite (2011), Warner Bros.
The 2011 Warner Bros. thriller The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins, is loosely based on Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. The film tells the allegedly real events witnessed by an exorcist-in-training, Father Gary Thomas, and his experiences after he was sent to Rome to be trained with veteran exorcists.
Released January 28, 2011, the film made $14.7 million in its opening weekend after receiving poor marks from critics — 20 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. In the film’s second weekend, The Rite made only $5.5 million, good for a drop of 63 percent and No. 6 at the box office.
8. The Devil Inside (2012), Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures’s (NASDAQ:VIA) 2012 supernatural horror movie The Devil Inside is a documentary-style film about a woman who becomes involved in a series of exorcisms in a quest to discover what happened to her mother.
The Devil Inside was released January 6, 2012, and made $33 million in its opening weekend despite not being screened for the press — the film later earned a mere 6 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. In its second weekend, it appears that the film’s poor reception caught up to it: The Devil Inside made $8 million, good for a drop of 66 percent and sixth place at the box office.
7. Stick (1985), Universal Pictures
Stick is a 1985 crime film directed by and starring Burt Reynolds — so don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. Coming from Universal and based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the film revolves around Earnest “Stick” Stickley, a former car thief who is released from prison and finds himself on the run after a drug deal goes wrong. Some people never learn.
The film was released April 26, 1985, and in its first weekend it made $3.3 million (unadjusted for inflation), good for No. 1 at the box office. However, the following weekend was not so kind — the film made $1.5 million its second week, good for a drop of 55 percent and No. 7 at the box office.
6. Poetic Justice (1993), Columbia Pictures
The Columbia Pictures (NYSE:SNE) film Poetic Justice is a 1993 drama-romance starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. It follows a female poet and her experiences living in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles. The film was written and directed by John Singleton, who directed Boyz n the Hood.
The film opened at No. 1 at the box office on July 23, 1993, with $11.7 million. But in the film’s second weekend, Poetic Justice made only $5 million for a drop of 58 percent in gross ticket sales, good for a placement of No. 7 at the box office.
5. Doom (2005), Universal Pictures
The 2005 action-horror film Doom, loosely based on the well-known video game series of the same name, follows a group of Rapid Response Tactical Squad Marines as they are called to an emergency situation on Mars and discover a horde of genetically engineered monsters. The film stars Karl Urban and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and was produced by Universal.
In the film’s first weekend at the box office — after it was released October 21, 2005 – Doom made almost $15.5 million, coming in at No. 1. In its second weekend, the film made only $4.2 million for a radical drop-off of 73 percent and good for No. 7 at the box office. A 19 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics probably didn’t help.
4. Snakes on a Plane (2006), New Line
Snakes on a Plane is probably the best example on this list of a film that was destined for a huge drop-off because of the hype-train. Starring Samuel L. Jackson in a plot that is mostly explained in the title, Snakes on a Plane arrived with lots of Internet fanfare that studio New Line decided to run with by involving fans in the process of making the film.
Unfortunately, the huge Internet presence didn’t end up translating to ticket sales as well as the studio had hoped. While the film opened at No. 1 in 2006 with a slightly disappointing $13.8 million, the second weekend saw that number drop down to $6.1 million for a 56 percent decline. The film fell to No. 7 at the box office and didn’t find much more success, totaling $34 million by the time it was done in theaters despite a fairly positive critical reception — 68 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998), Sony Pictures
John Carpenter’s Vampires was released October 30, 1998, and is a western-horror film starring James Woods as the leader of a Catholic Church-sanctioned team of vampire hunters.
In the film’s opening weekend, it made $9.1 million (unadjusted for inflation) and placed No. 1 at the box office despite mostly negative views from critics. The film’s second weekend saw that number drop to $3.9 million for a tumble of 58 percent, landing the film at No. 8 at the box office. That’s a long drop.
When the film was finished with its theatrical run, Vampires had only made $20 million, which meant that the first two weekends of the film’s release represented more than half of the film’s total domestic take.
2. Bangkok Dangerous (2008), Lionsgate
The 2008 Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF) thriller Bangkok Dangerous, starring Nicolas Cage, follows hitman Joe as he travels to Bangkok for a monthlong assignment to kill four people for a gang lord.
While the film had a rather low opening of $7.7 million, that number was still good for No. 1 at the box office. But when the film reached its second weekend, the drop-off was extraordinary — the film made $2.5 million for a difference of 68 percent. Like Vampires, Bangkok Dangerous saw an immediate drop from No. 1 at the box office to No. 8.
But while the film made a hugely disappointing total of $15 million in domestic gross, Bangkok Dangerous drew decent business overseas to overshadow the tremendous failure stateside.
1. Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), Lionsgate
The most recent film on this list is also the film with the most dramatic drop from its first weekend to its second. Lionsgate’s Texas Chainsaw 3D is the seventh film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. The film follows Heather as she makes a road trip to collect an inheritance from her long-lost grandmother, only to find her cousin, Leatherface, waiting. As the film got a 19 percent “Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes, you probably know where this going.
Texas Chainsaw 3D has some pretty eye-popping numbers when you look at them. The film made a successful $21 million in its opening weekend on January 1 — but now the fun begins. In its second weekend, the film managed to take in only $5.2 million for a drop of 76 percent. That number plummeted it eight spots at the box office, making Texas Chainsaw 3D the only film to open at No. 1 and drop to No. 9 its second weekend.
But there’s more: the film’s domestic total finished at $34 million, meaning the film made nearly 80 percent of its domestic gross in its first two weekends. Even crazier: the film took in 61 percent of its total domestic gross its first weekend in theaters.
That’s a lot of front-loading.