Box Office Special - Questionable Reflection

Alexandre Aja's directorial follow-up to "The Hills Have Eyes", received a lukewarm reception at the box office this weekend. In bringing in just over $11 million, "Mirrors" produced on par with some of this year's previous middling horror releases. While it outdrew films like "Shutter" and "The Ruins", it came in behind January's "Untraceable". Digging a little deeper into the numbers however, we can see that from a perspective of relative performance, "Mirrors" had one of the worst weekend's for a horror film all year. As a percentage of this week's top 12 grossing films (which brought in a combined $124.6 million), Aja's film, drawing 8.9% of the total box office dollars, only fared better than "X-Files" among 2008's wide horror releases.

A fourth place finish for "Mirrors" didn't even crack the headlines, what with a new "Star Wars" feature, a high-profile comedy release, and another film that just happened to have recently annihilated all box office precedent. At least when "The X-Files" tanked, folks were talking about it. Here, we could see "Mirrors" disappear without nary a peep. Of course, that wouldn't be too huge a loss, but it is a little sad to see an R-rated horror feature underwhelm to such an extent. Fox has yet to release any sort of budget info, so it's hard to get a sense of the kind of hole that they could be looking at here. For Aja, whose name gets tossed around as an up and coming horror director, this kind of box office performance won't exactly endear him to studio executives. Then again, "Piranha 3-D" is on the way next year and the potential hype behind the first 3-D horror feature since those hilarious red and blue glass went out of style, should at least inflate the early returns.

Though it may be hard to believe with all the headlines that the box office returns have been generating, August 2008 has not been a great month for movie studios or theater owners. In fact, through this past weekend, gross receipts are down more than 10 percent (11.9% based on top 12 weekly grosses). "The Dark Knight" almost single-handedly ensured that July 2008 outpaced July 2007 (by roughly 10 percent, in fact). But one could probably make the case that a combination of Batman hangover, and some less than stellar film offerings the last couple of weeks have combined to account for the sagging financial performance at the theater. While next week has a handful of interesting offerings — "The House Bunny" for some, "Death Race" for others — it's highly unlikely that either of those films (or the hilarious-looking Ice Cube vehicle "The Longshots"!) will be able to get Hollywood out of its current funk.

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