Steve’s Box Office Report: October 2006
Top 10 Films for the Month of October:
- The Departed – $132,384,315
- Saw III – $80,238,724
- The Prestige – $53,089,891
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning – $39,517,763
- The Grudge 2 – $39,143,839
- Man of the Year – $37,327,390
- Flags of our Fathers – $33,602,376
- Employee of the Month – $28,444,855
- Flicka – $21,000,147
- The Marine – $18,844,784
- Marie Antoinette – $15,962,471
- One Night with the King – $13,395,961
- Running with Scissors – $7,022,827
- Little Children – $5,463,019
October Winners: The Departed, Saw III, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Coming off a pretty tepid September, we see things slowly turn around here with October of 2006. After a month where we saw no film able to break over $100 million in the box office, that changes here as we get at least one film make it over that level and help boost things back up heading into the holidays. For this month, we have more than one film that ends up being a winner for the month after the previous month which only had one winner. The first film from this month that ends up being a winner is a film that ends up becoming the front runner in the awards season, and that is the crime drama the Departed. It was well received by critics and it was released early in the month so it was able to have a solid run throughout the month, and it was perfect counter-programming to the multiple horror fare that was released this month and it would ride that momentum all the way to February and the Academy Awards. The second winner of the month is a franchise that has been in solid control of the month for the last few years, and that is the third installment in the Saw franchise. Riding the wave of success from the previous two films, the franchise continued to build on it and it would pass the first one though fall a bit short of surpassing the second film though it was enough of a success that ensured the franchise would continue. The third and final film from this month that is considered a winner is another horror film released in the month, and that is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning which serves as the origin story of the franchise. Unfortunately, a combination of the poor reviews and the success of the Departed which was released the same weekend hurt its long term potential and it ended on the low end of the franchise.
October Losers: Flags of our Fathers, Marie Antoinette, and Little Children
October will be a weird month going forward as we will mostly see horror films released, but this is also where many films that are awards contenders come out either limited or have already been released limited and go wide during the month. One of the interesting points to bring up here is that most of these films don’t appear in a lot of theaters during their wide release and as such, they end up not making a lot of money and are considered losers because of this. This month sees this theory hold true as the first film released that is a loser of the month is Flags of our Fathers, a film based on the Battle of Iwo Jima and its aftermath directed by Clint Eastwood. Despite having some pretty positive reviews from critics, the film ended up underperforming partially due to the Departed and it ended up way under its budget, making it one of the worst flops of the year. The next film on this list is another potential awards contender with Marie Antoinette, an adaptation of the French Queen leading up to the French Revolution. Unlike Flags of our Fathers which got good reviews and underperformed, Marie Antoinette got more mixed reviews from critics and struggled to find an audience late in the month resulting in it not even making the top 10 of the month. The last film from the month that ends up being a loser for the month is another awards contender in Little Children, an adaptation of the novel of the same name. This one is an interesting case as the film ended up being in just 115 theaters at its peak and it also had some good reviews, but due to its limited release it ended up underperforming slightly and ends up being a loser though it almost came close to getting out of the category.
The Surprise/Story of October 2006: Horror takes a back seat to crime in October
When it comes to the month of October, it is pretty much expected to be a vehicle for horror films which makes sense considering the Halloween tie-in and most years sees at least two or three horror films released in October. That is the case here as we saw the release of Saw III, Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning, and the Grudge 2, which were not only horror films but horror sequels/prequels. When it comes to multiple horror films being released, there is a chance that only one is able to break out while the rest flounder and that is proven true here as Saw had a solid run while Texas Chainsaw and Grudge fell flat. However, the big story is that all three horror films ended up being overshadowed by a crime drama, namely the Departed which was the only film this month to gross over $100 million. This would end up beginning a trend as horror would start becoming less of a focus for the month of October while other genres will take center stage. That’s not to say that horror will be completely ignored as it won’t, but it will be interesting going forward in seeing a month best known for horror releases will see other films finish on top for the month.
Overachiever of October 2006: Saw III
One of the main factors of a film becoming an overachiever for the month is if a film can finish with a total gross that far exceeds its budget, meaning it ended up being one of the biggest successes of the year. The Saw franchise has been a prime example of this as the first two Saw films saw major grosses that far exceeded their budgets, which usually were only about $10-20 million which is fairly standard for most horror films. We see it come to fruition again here as Saw III finishes with just over $80 million, which ends up being 8 times its budget and it finished ahead of the first Saw and just behind the second Saw. Due to this tremendous success, it should come as no surprise that the franchise would continue despite not changing its formula of focusing on blood and gore. We will see going forward if this strategy will end up hurting the franchise and if it suffers from franchise fatigue, but as long as it makes money it will be around for a while and Saw III did just that to merit a Saw IV.
Underachiever of October 2006: Flags of our Fathers
The underachiever of the month is an interesting category as we have seen a few films that should do well, but end up falling flat or completely bomb which results in it being in this category. In the late months of the year, we see films released that receive positive reviews from critics, but they don’t end up making a lot of money either due to lack of theater releases or being crushed under other films. This month’s underachiever, Flags of our Fathers, falls into this category as it was favored by critics and was considered a strong awards contender, but it ended up falling under the weight of the Departed taking most of the paying audience. As a result of this, Flags of our Fathers ended up underperforming severely as it only grossed about a third of its budget and thus was one of the biggest busts of the years despite being one of the better reviewed films.
October 2006 Awards Watch: The Departed, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Flags of our Fathers, Employee of the Month, Marie Antoinette, Running with Scissors, and Little Children
As mentioned earlier in the recap, we are now getting into the period when most of the films released are considered as contenders for any of the big three in terms of awards. After the last few months of only a handful of contenders released into the market, this month has the most of the year to date with a whopping seven films that were nominated for awards. The first one of the list ended up being one of the bigger winners of the year and that is the Departed, as it would win four awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing) while also being nominated for a fifth (Best Supporting Actor). It would also win one Golden Globe (Best Director) while being nominated for five other awards (Best Picture – Drama, Best Actor – Drama, Best Supporting Actor (two nominees), and Best Screenplay). The next film for the month of October on the list is Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning as it would be nominated for a Golden Raspberry award (Worst Prequel or Sequel) though it wouldn’t win. Next up for the month is Flags of our Fathers as it would be nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing) though it would not win either. Next up on the list is the comedy Employee of the Month as it would be nominated for one Golden Raspberry award (Worst Actress) though it would not win as well, and the win ratio for these films is now starting to get worse. Our next film on the list is Marie Antoinette as it would win one Academy Award (Best Costume Design), so far making it the only other film besides the Departed to win an award. The next to last film from this month on the list is the memoir Running with Scissors which earned a Golden Globe nomination (Best Supporting Actress – Comedy or Musical), but it would be unsuccessful in winning. Finally, we come to the last film on the list which is Little Children and it would be nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay) though it would not win any. It would also be nominated for three Golden Globe Awards (Best Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama, and Best Screenplay) though it also would not win any of those awards either. So once again, it is pretty clear that the big winner for the month is the Departed with the amount of money made and the number of awards won, making it one of 2006’s biggest successes.
Overall Thoughts of October 2006:
Coming off of a pretty tepid month that was September, the box office gets a slight tick upward for the month of October though it is still nowhere near where we were in the summer. Granted by this point, most of 2006’s blockbusters have either been released or are preparing to be released over the next two months and this month along with September were bound to suffer a bit because of it. Unlike the previous month, we did have at least one film released this month succeed and the Departed was one of the biggest success stories of the year, but sadly the rest of month underperformed and caused the month to only slightly finish ahead of September. 2006 has been a very interesting year for film as we have had a pretty big discrepancy between the successful months (the summer months and March) and the not-so successful months (the winter months and September) and October falls just above months like February and September, but is still pretty far behind the summer months. With only two months left for the year, we will see if 2006 can end on a strong note or if it will end up fizzling out after a hot summer. As for the month of October, it ends up being about in the middle edging towards the lower end of the year that was 2006.
Final Grade: C-