Astro Boy

What is "Sci-Fi on the Screen" you ask? Why it's television and movies, of course! Every Monday, we'll be looking back at the previous week to see how sci-fi is faring on TV and in theaters. This will include a look back at the ratings of science fiction shows on television, as well as a glimpse of sci-fi films at the box office.

Box Office (10/23-10/25)

This weekend, the supernatural Paranormal Activity did the incredibly unlikely, climbing up the box office rankings to secure its first week at number one ... in its fifth week of release. Paranormal's $22 million shattered the dreams of Saw VI, which opened at less than half its previous three installments, but still earned enough for second place.

That dramatic battle atop the charts may have hurt the release of Japanese science fiction icon Astro Boy. The animated adaptation opened with an anemic $7 million dollars; a fraction of its $65 million budget.

I suspect a lot of Astro Boy's troubles come from the fact that it's a decidedly Japanese property which doesn't have the recognition or history of success in the US as it does there. In Japan, Astro Boy is as recognizable as Mickey Mouse is here. I expect Japanese revenue will more than make up for the lack of US support.

Elsewhere on the charts, Where the Wild Things Are slipped to #3 in its second week. The film dropped a steep 55.9% to bring in $14.4 million. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs made back its $100 million budget by bringing in an additional $5.6 million in its sixth week of release. Zombieland rounds out the Top 10 in its fourth week, bringing in another $4.3 million. After a month, its total gross of $67.3 million is well over its $23.6 million budget. America still loves zombies!

Further down the charts, The Surrogates continues its quick slide to oblivion. In its fifth week, an additional $574,000 isn't enough to bring its total to half the budget. I was really hoping for better with The Surrogates as its a very smart science fiction premise, and the comic book series it was based on was top-notch. I'm hopeful that it will find new life on DVD. Meanwhile, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra slipped out of the Top 20 completely.

Television DVR Update (October 5-11)

Stargate Universe continues to impress, nabbing 3 million total viewers for its second outing, once DVR viewership is accounted for. Proving that tech-savvy young people are too busy to watch television on Friday nights, Smallville and Dollhouse saw huge increases for the week of October 5-11.

According to TV By the Numbers, more than half of the Top 10 shows that saw the greatest increase in viewers for the Adults 18-49 demo were science fiction shows. Topping the list were Smallville, Dollhouse and Fringe. FlashForward came in at #7 and #10, while Heroes held up the #9 slot. Just ahead of that was The CW's The Vampire Diaries, indicating that fans of genre television really don't want to miss their shows.

TV Ratings (October 19-25)

For the sake of argument, I'll be adding in supernatural, fantasy and horror titles as well, as these types of shows tend to attract similar audiences. Plus, when you pit the more "unreal" shows against one another, you can get a better understanding of how genre is faring than when you compare them to the likes of Grey's Anatomy and NCIS.

The week started out with Heroes (5.7 million, 3.6/5) getting beat by everything in its timeslot, save One Tree Hill (2.3 million, 1.6/2) on The CW. On Wednesday, Eastwick (4.9 million, 3.5/6) continued to underperform for ABC, bringing in fewer viewers than the horrible comedy Hank (5.8 million, 3.9/7), that opens the night. The future isn't looking rosy at all for the witches or their devilish companion.

By Thursday, FOX was reaping the ratings bonanza that was the ALCS. Game 5 meant there was no new episode of Fringe. Nevertheless, ABC's FlashForward (9.8 million, 6.2/10) was beat out only by baseball and the over-hyped "injury" episode of Survivor: Samoa, which hit a season high I don't expect it to match next week. The CW's one-two punch of The Vampire Diaries (2.3 million, 1.5/2) and Supernatural (1.9 million, 1.3/2) were in repeat mode, and the ratings reflected it.

As expected, CBS again dominated Friday nights, with Ghost Whisperer (8.5 million, 5.3/10) and Medium (8.4 million, 5.1/9) leading the way. At 8, Smallville (2.5 million, 1.6/3) still managed more viewers than FOX's Dollhouse (2.1 million, 1.3/2) did at 9. In fact, a repeat of The Vampire Diaries, along with countless cable shows including Stargate Universe, beat Dollhouse's ratings every week.

I hate to say it, because I do like the show, but it looks like Dollhouse is on its last breaths. Unless a holiday miracle makes people want to tune into the planned Dollhouse double-features come December, it might be time to start your goodbyes.
  1. FlashForward (9.8 million, 6.2/10)
  2. Ghost Whisperer (8.5 million, 5.3/10)
  3. Medium (8.4 million, 5.1/9)
  4. Heroes (5.7 million, 3.6/5)
  5. Eastwick (4.9 million, 3.5/6)
  6. Smallville (2.5 million, 1.6/3)
  7. The Vampire Diaries [repeat] (2.3 million, 1.5/2)
  8. Dollhouse (2.1 million, 1.3/2)
  9. Supernatural [repeat] (1.9 million, 1.3/2)
[These figures are based on fast national estimates as reported by Zap2It.]