The Movie: 'My Soul to Take', written and directed by Wes Craven and starring a bunch of kids, among whom the best-known is 22-year old Max Thieriot ('Chloe', 'Jumper', 'Nancy Drew'). Craven's first film since 2005's terrific 'Red Eye', 'My Soul to Take' wasn't screened for the press and ultimately got shellacked by the critics, some of whose minds appeared to be boggled by the film's earnest weirdness. The plot, somewhat reminiscent of Craven's classic 'A Nightmare on Elm Street', concerns a serial killer who appears to return from the grave to torment seven teenagers who were born on the day he was killed.
The Target Audience: Teenagers; horror film enthusiasts; Wes Craven fans. Notably, Craven's is the only "brand name" that Rogue and Universal had to work with here.
The Competition: Family-friendly fare 'Life as We Know It' and 'Secretariat'; the second weekend of 'The Social Network'. Not a particularly formidable slate, though that may have had the result of keeping people away from the multiplexes altogether, especially with the baseball playoffs heating up.
The Number: $6.9 million on 2,572 screens. This raises a couple of concerns. First, it suggests that a horror genre fatigue may actually be setting in. Not counting 'Eclipse', the top-grossing horror film of 2010 is the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' remake with $63 million; the last few entries to hit theaters – 'Let Me In', 'Devil', 'Case 39', 'Piranha 3D', and now 'My Soul to Take' have all underperformed. Even 'The Last Exorcism', backed by solid reviews and a strong viral marketing campaign, barely eked out $40 million (admittedly a tidy profit for the low-budget flick). 'My Soul to Take' is also the weakest opening for a Wes Craven horror film since the original 'Scream' (which word of mouth eventually carried to $100 million).
It is also among the weakest openings for a 3D non-documentary in the modern era of 3D. The only lower numbers are for what I would consider second-tier releases like Summit's 'Fly Me to the Moon' and Lionsgate's 'Battle for Terra'. For the many of us lamenting the rise of 3D as a thoughtless, detrimental marketing gimmick, this is a very good sign. Moviegoers won't shell out extra cash for just anything with "3D" appended to the title.
Staying Power: Unlikely. Horror flicks take big drops as a rule. The reviews have been brutal. The film's returns actually fell from Friday to Saturday, which is relatively unusual. At this point, 'My Soul to Take' would be lucky to get to $20 million domestically.
Did you see' My Soul to Take' this weekend? Were you surprised by its lackluster box office performance?