Happy Death Day Wins the Weekend

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It’s been a bad year financially at the box office. A gigantic horror show, some might say. So maybe it’s only fitting that horror movies have been among the year’s only bright spots—financially speaking, at least.

The grotesque genre continued its horrific hot streak this weekend with the debut of Happy Death Day, which blew out the candles on the competition. It collected an estimated $26.5 million, already five times more than its creators allegedly spent making the thing.

Blade Runner 2049 couldn’t replicate that kind of success and slipped to second place, collecting $15.1 million. It finds itself on the flip side of Death Day’s success, in a way: a movie that cost $150 million to make (not counting marketing) which has earned just $60.6 million (domestically) so far. Granted, it has earned another $98 million overseas, which might make the folks at Warner Bros. feel, oh, K.

Another newcomer, Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner, also surpassed expectations. On a weekend that saw four new films in wide release, The Foreigner proved to be the second-best freshman, earning $12.8 million. It doubled the money of fourth-place IT, which dragged another $6.1 million into its cash-filled sewer. The Mountain Between Us, meanwhile, took home another $5.7 million to close out the top five.

The other newcomers didn’t fare quite as well. A quick sampling: Marshall earned about $3 million in a little more than 800 theaters, while Professor Marston & the Wonder Women managed just $700,000 in more than 1,200—which works out to a dismal per-theater average of $600. Finally, Goodbye Christopher Robin, a film that played in just nine theaters before rolling wider this week, earned $55,000.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Alex Clark 30 days ago
It irritates me when people reduce all horror movies to just "brutal violence and people getting killed".  Death Day in particular was about a girl, through repeating this one particular day over and over, learning just how much of a terrible person she's degenerated into, and eventually overcoming and changing it.  At one point the character even acts in a self-sacrificing way to save another character from dying.  It is also a murder mystery with the unique twist that the character is solving her own murder rather than other people's, as she goes about investigating it through systematic trial and error; the reveal at the end of who the culprit was I thought was pretty clever.    And FYI, it's PG-13 so about 100% less graphic than most other horror films.  

Like someone further down said, I think a lot of the appeal of horror movies is similar to riding a roller-coaster, and not that different than the same thing that attracts people to super hero movies and such.  The last protagonists standing finally defeating and/or escaping from Freddy or Jason at the end of their films isn't that much different from Batman finally defeating the Joker at the end of a Batman movie or the avengers defeating Ultron at the end of their film.  Being stuck on an island full of dinosaurs and other giant creatures on the loose isn't that different from "characters trapped in a haunted house"  or "escape the city full of zombies" in execution.  In the end I think what makes something horror is often just focusing on the "fear" aspect of the story, and on making the audience jump of feel afraid and unsettled, it doesn;t always have to be about graphic violence (though it often is).  Hacksaw Ridge is graphic, but its not a horror movie.  "The Hunger Games" has a violent concept but it's not really horror, but "Battle Royale" and "The Belko Experiment" have similar stories and are horror.  The Jurassic Park movies can be scary to some, and could almost be horror, but that's not the main focus so they usually aren't considered horror. 

Of course, "Happy Death Day" could be seen as basically just "horror movie Groundhogs day" so maybe a person could just watch that older film instead, but I don't think that always works either.  To respond to what someone said further down in the comments, about "why can't we just get the same thrill out of cleaner movies like the marvel super hero films", I would say that the reality of the universe (not just with movies but a lot of other things) is that there are no such things as "perfect substitutions".  Super hero movies may be *similar* to the kind of thrill that is present in many horror movies, but it is not exactly the same thing, and it can't really "replace" horror movies for people who enjoy them.  It's like...if you really loved "the Dark Knight" but you couldn't watch it for some reason, and a friend suggested "well, why don't you just watch Tim Burton's Batman instead?".  they are similar films, in that both are about Batman, and feature the Joker as the villain, but anyone who has seen both could tell you they aren't nearly the same, and neither one would be a perfectly satisfying substitute for the other.  I've heard that argument a lot, and even had some people say it to me like "why do you like movie X, when movie Y is similar and has a lower MPAA rating."  it's just as simple as "even if movie Y is similar, it still isn't movie X.  Nothing else can be movie X except movie X.".  There are no perfect substitutions. 
bobed 3 months ago
The audience apparently likes to watch other human beings being brutally killed. It's sad and weird, but it's where our culture is at now.
Inkfeather1 . 3 months ago
What do you mean it's where our culture is at "now"? I seem to recall learning about something called the Coliseum in history class. I agree it is sad, but at least we've gotten to the point where we're only watching people fake being killed, not actually being killed. There is still hope :)
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

There's still hope? Real or not, watching people die and suffer is wrong, plain and simple.

Didn't you read The Hunger Games?
Inkfeather1 . 3 months ago
The Hunger Games was about watching real people die, not about actors. It's also not historical. What is your point?
Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

The Hunger Games was about showing what can happen to humanity if we let violence become a form of entertainment just for the sake of it.

Is it ok for people to watch The Walking Dead and watch someone get turned into pulp by a barbed wire baseball bat? Is it ok for someone to play Mortal Kombat X and relish in ripping out someone's heart even though it's 'fake?'

No, it's not.
bobed 3 months ago
There's always hope for radical cultural change. But it never happens.

As for people not really enjoying the sight of others being killed...ever heard of Facebook Live?
SJamison 3 months ago
Cecil B. DeMille's "The Sign of the Cross" very obviously paints the crowd at the Coliseum about to watch Christians being eaten by lions as analogous to sports fans of his own day.
Evan Weisensel 3 months ago
Honestly, I've always attributed people's love of horror movies to the same reason people (Like myself) enjoy roller coasters, not out of sadism, but out of the thrill and adrenaline rush of the experience. 
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Anonymous 3 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I personally feel like bobed makes a reasonable point. A lot of people go see horror movies just to see people get killed by clowns or being shredded by some metal trap.

Now I know that some people watch horror films cause they like a good thrill ride, but can't we experience those same kinda thrills in The Dark Knight or Guardians of the Galaxy or San Andres?

The Dark Knight definitely isn't kid friendly, but it's still much cleaner than something like Saw or IT.
Evan Weisensel 3 months ago
Good points and well spoken, too.

What I'm pointing out is that I've noticed that there's a certain type of adrenaline rush one can only get by watching to playing something from the horror genre. Now, I'm not saying that makes it automatically okay to go and watch those things, it's just that the tension and thrill of a horror movie is a very unique sort of experience that's comparable to the tension and fear factor that riding a thrill ride gives, one that's not usually found in a traditional summer action blockbuster.