June 11, 2007

7 Possible Reasons for Hostel Part II's Bad Box Office

So, my fear was that Hostel Part II would flourish at the box office this past US weekend and would better the opening week gross of the original ($19mil if I remember correctly). Instead, it didn't even make half of that - coming in with an estimated box office gross of $8.8 million. Naturally I am ecstatic, but then I started thinking of why. And I came up with this completely un-scientific list of seven possible reasons.

1. It's Summer and nobody wants to sit through a woman bathing in a steady stream of blood when they could be outside soaking up rays of sun, eating an apple or dancing an Irish jig at the beach.

2. The inhouse leak of a decent-quality DVD lead to a rush on purchases of the illegal DVD and so many people had already seen it.

3. Too many horror films released in the last few years have sapped the audience of enthusiasm.

4. Critics reviews as well as the growing storm over the film's controversial content turned potential audience members off.

5. The marketing was not effective and the film wasn't high profile enough to compete.

6. Kids bought tickets to other movies and then snuck into to see Hostel 2.

7. There was too much competition for males at the box office

You can watch Liongate (the film's distributer) churn out excuses 2, 6 and 7 to anybody willing with a straight face. But I suspect it's more a partnership between reasons 1 and 3. Here are rebukes and rebuttles for each of the reasons.

1. Okay, no, this makes sense. Aug-Oct and Jan-March are the only viable times to release a horror movie. Every horror film of the "torture" variety (as defined by Box Office Mojo) to have grossed over $20mil (there's only 8 of them) were released in either October (including the top four), January or March. But would Lionsgate dare question their (admittedly quite successful) marketing team?

2. Perhaps, but I doubt the amount of people who saw the DVD amounted to the excess of $8mil difference between this Hostel's opening to the last. Besides, the illegal copies floating around were unfinished.

3. Well, many of them were not only big giant flops, but a lot of them were also just really really shit. And, somehow, the original Hostel is seen as one of the better ones. So wouldn't a sequel seem like something made of money? How come the sequel to The Hills Have Eyes ($41mil gross on no buzz at all) made more in it's opening weekend than the sequel to Hostel ($48mil gross). Let it be known that The Hills Have Eyes 2 debuted with $9.6mil back in March before a final gross of just over $20mil.

Besides, if Lionsgate admits this, then they admit the reason for Hostel Part 2's failure was... the success of Hostel. No?

4. Clearly this means jack shit. The audience for these movies lap this up like a dog's breakfast. As we've seen before, the mix of controversy plus buzz usually ends up in nothing but fizz.

5. Uh, no.

6. Never mind the fact that pretty much every film they could have purchased tickets to without looking suspicious fell over 50% at the box office and that Ocean's 13, debuting at #1, actually made $37mil, right in line with the other two films of the franchise. And as the success of the original Hostel proved there was more than enough people in January last year to make that one a hit.

7. Well, history has shown that a majority of those who would go to see a movie like this, a horror sequel, will go see it on opening weekend. Ocean's 13 can wait. Surf's Up can wait.

So, I present to you, my hypothesis on why Hostel Part II dropped the big one at the box office.

The only reason as many people went to go see the original Hostel as it is was because there was nothing else at the movies (it knocked Narnia off the #1 spot, which had been there for three weeks) and it was an original movie and seeing that was better than seeing Narnia again. But once they found out it was actually kind of crap, they figured they'd skip the inevitable sequel. Especially when it's Summer and they could be at the beach or playing basketball or "cruising for chicks" or seeing something else at the movies.

I also suspect that #3 has a large part to play. So many lame horror movies all making the same amount of cash (somewhere between $10mil and $20mil), which means the same people are seeing them, but the other people that made the Saw movies and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the original Hostel hits are not. Hostel Part II was just not special enough to warrent people parting with their $10. The original must have turned enough people off (remember, it would have picked up fans from the DVD release too) to cause a sudden downturn, coupled with the desire to not see a sadistic horror show in the summery nights.

Of course, as I said, I doubt Lionsgate will say any of this. I suspect they will blame the leaked DVD (much like MGM did with Soul Plane when that crashed and burned, and Eli Roth is already calling for Dave Poland's head) and that there was just no room for Hostel 2 at the box office, when really there was or that their "internal research" shows a substantial ($8mil worth?) amount of people were buying tickets to other movies and sneaking in (which proves that they are marketing the movie to young adolescents and that actual adults (the ones who could pay to see it) have rejected it (positive!) I never expected The Hills Have Eyes 2 to make more than Hostel Part II though. Whod've thunk that?

Now, the next big test comes with Saw IV. Will it suffer a similar fate as Hostel 2, will it follow the trends of the Friday the 13th movies (gradually less and less) or will this franchise continue grow and grow? I hope it's the first possibility, but I have a feeling it won't be.


J.D. Judge said...

W-O-W. Uh... I don't know what to say to that except it's a shame JA's not on the blogosphere till the 15th.

Let's use your reasoning of Hostel to my weird love of the Saw movies. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the first one (sue me), but the second one was in no way as good as the first one, but still okay I guess. And I have not seen the third one. They're definitely not getting better, and I blame that on the fact that James Wan only directed the first one, and with it's surprise success, Lionsgate hired some new guy and ruined it. I just can't bring myself to watch the third one, just can't, cuz I know it's horrible. And Saw IV? I'm not saying I'm surprised, but I think I'm gonna throw up now...

Paxton Hernandez said...

Really good theories, hahaha.

People just weren't in the mood of seeing more torture horror (NOT torture porn), that would be my guess. Not after certain shooting a in Eastern U.S. Campus.

Saw IV probably will drove masses AGAIN, cos, well, it's being relaesed in Halloween. Uh, scary = ).


Did you have pancakes for breakfast today? I certainly did. The cinammon-apple flavored ones. Mmm yummy!!

Cal said...

Well I liked Saw II AND The Hills Have Eyes so not exactly a hater. Lol. I'd like to think people are getting tired of this kind of thing but I think maybe it's down to Oceans 13. It's gonna bring in a lot of the male crowd.

Kamikaze Camel said...

JD, The original Saw is indeed much much better than the sequels. But, still...

I have no idea what Danny Glover and Cary Elwes were doing there? They give, quite possibly, two of the worst performances of the decade so far.

Pax, but if people such as Eli Roth are to believed people like going to these movies because it's fake horror and it lets them be afraid and scared by something that it is made up and not actually real. If they use that excuse they're being hypocrits.

People don't like horror movies after real life tragedies! Except when the movie is a hit.

I do agree though that people are probably sick of violence everywhere. Shame that, yes, Saw 4 will be a hit purely because it's out at Halloween.

Cal, I liked The Hills Have Eyes remake.

J.D. Judge said...

Well, Danny Glover was supposed to suck! That's the point! And Elwes was something I don't really think about for it. We all like our own things, and while I actually much hate modern horror, Saw is pretty much the only exception, and an excellent film, in my opinion. My opinion. Me. [sighs]

J.D. Judge said...

And "worst"? I save that space for Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code, Sean Penn in All the King's Men, and ANYONE and EVERYONE in From Justin to Kelly. Now, that's a pool of suckiness!

Kamikaze Camel said...

I'm quite literally scared to watch All The King's Men. I think it would hurt to watch Penn, Winslet and Law all suck in a crap movie.

I gave Saw a C+, so that's pretty positive (the sequels, Hostel, Cabin Fever, and so many others lately have been D+ or worse). I think it worked much better than the others because it was kind of creepy. It reminded me of a not-as-good and not-as-mindfucking Cube. When they started making them a circus freakshow with waaay too many characters merely so they can murder them in grotesque ways, that is when they went off the rails.

I don't see any defending of Danny Glover though. That was truly a bizarre performance in my eyes. It was almost was like it transcended suckiness. Like Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls! Except the rest of Saw isn't even remotely funny so...

J.D. Judge said...

Okay. I'm not gonna disagree with ya, because I don't wanna end up like JA and his lack of right arm... [runs]

Neel Mehta said...

I know nothing of the torture genre, or horror in general, but I'll throw out a few more reasons Hostel Part II did poorly:

1. Hostel was about boy torture, which might be easier to stomach than the girl torture advertised in the sequel. I know that female victims can be the bread and butter of, say, a slasher film, but exclusively female victims? (Will Captivity fare any better?)

2. The original had less competition and low expectations, sure, but it also had that whole "Quentin Tarantino presents" thing going for it. Now, to the ticket-buying public, that doesn't mean as much as it used to.

3. Here, stateside, I think there may have been some last-minute shuffling of the release date. I want to say it was pushed up two weeks to avoid going head-to-head with 1408. Not sure about that, though.

RC said...

this is a very very thoughtful analysis, and one of the very reasons i enjoy your blog and thoughts.

very nice work.