The Movie
: 'Skyline,' starring Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, and David Zayas, and directed by Colin and Greg Strause. The Strause Brothers are visual effects veterans ('The Day After Tomorrow' and 'Terminator 3' among many others) whose only previous directorial credit is 'Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem,' which is not terribly promising.

The Target Audience: Kids, teens, and undiscriminating action and sci-fi buffs. Mostly male ones.

The Competition: Largely Tony Scott's 'Unstoppable,' which went after the same demographic with more star power and marketing muscle. 'Megamind,' coming off a monster opening, and 'Due Date,' were also still around, making trouble and probably siphoning off some potential viewers. You can get the whole lowdown on the weekend's box office from Moviefone's Box Office Report.

The Number: An estimated $11.7 million. Which seems awfully weak for a major special effects blockbuster, until you consider that 'Skyline''s production budget is reported at $10 million.

I'll give the Strause Brothers this much: they sure stretched that $10 million. If asked to guess at the budget after seeing the film, I would have guessed $60 million, easy – maybe $50, accounting for the lack of expensive actors. Admittedly, it looks pretty great for $10 million and makes this a great investment for Rogue and Universal – even if the film did "underperform" for its genre and profile.


Which, to be fair, it probably did. Rogue didn't screen 'Skyline' for the press, and the result was something like 'District 9' without the buzz and the good reviews. (Which is not to say that screening 'Skyline' for critics would have netted it positive buzz or good reviews.) The alien invasion conceit and those great trailer images of thousands of people being sucked, vacuum-cleaner-style, into motherships, got the movie to $11 million, and there was simply nothing to push it any further.

Again, though, it probably doesn't matter. The idea here is similar to the idea behind the 'Saw' films: when you can make a movie this cheaply, and pretty much guarantee a certain minimum built-in audience, it's probably good business to do it. This is, in a way, the dark side of the digital revolution and decreasing costs: it makes product that much easier to churn out.

Staying Power: Unlikely – bad reviews and a D- (!) CinemaScore will probably doom 'Skyline' to a swift exit from theaters.

Are you surprised to learn 'Skyline' cost only $10 million?