Somewhere a Universal film executive is having a very good weekend. "Fast & Furious," a movie so high concept that it demanded to be made four times, just set a new record for an April release. Not only that, but it's $72 million bests the previous April high - set by "Anger Management" in 2003 - by $30 million. "Furious" had plenty of breathing room in the top spot, but a second strong showing by "Monsters vs. Aliens" - last week's number one - made it a second straight big weekend overall.
That fact, more than anything, probably has a lot of folks in the film world breathing a sigh of relief. After record high revenues in January and February of this year, March was down from what many had expected, particularly with "Watchmen's" seemingly limitless potential.
"The Haunting in Connecticut," coming off a second place finish last week, posted a strong enough performance to hang on for third place this weekend. It's $9+ million brings "Haunting" to a total just below $40 million over nine days. That total already pushes it past "The Last House on the Left," which dropped out of the top ten to number 12 this week. Now by no stretch is "Haunting" raking it in, but with a couple more weeks, it could post a very respectable total.
In 2008, the seven PG-13 horror films averaged $35 million at the box office. Even if it left the theaters tomorrow, "Haunting" would have surpassed the totals of every PG-13 film from 2008 except the wildly successful "Cloverfield," and "Prom Night," which "Haunting" should actually pass next week.
With next weekend shaping up to be a sleeper at the theater, "Haunting" should continue to have the breathing room to pull in genre fans. The largest release will be "Hannah Montana The Movie," but more interesting will be "Dragonball Evolution," a PG adaptation of the game/anime phenomenon that feels (to me, at least) like it barely snuck into theaters. Few game adaptations have yet to really breakthrough, and it's hard to see how this one will buck that trend. But there's much more of a cult following behind "Dragonball" then there ever was with something like "Max Payne."
Whether that will translate to actual revenue though, is another question all together. Back in adult-land, there's one release to keep an eye on, and that's Jody Hill ("Foot Fist Way") and Seth Rogen's (every Judd Apatow film ever) "Observe and Report." The buzz is hot, and the expectations, at least on my end, are very high. This time next week, we'll know if two mall-cop movies in one year is one too many. I'll be showing up to plop down my $12.