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How a Black Film Benefited from Piranhas

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 30, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 30, 2010 |

How did The Last Exorcism debut at number one with $21 million only a week after another horror film, Piranha 3D at number six with less than half that gross? Piranha 3D had an established director, a somewhat well-known cast, (fake) 3D effects, and buckets and buckets of blood (it also fared well with the critics). Meanwhile, The Last Exorcism looked like it was made in a garage, had no stars, and a director no one has ever heard of (Daniel Stamm), although it also fared well with critics (and our review will be posted later today).

I’ll tell you how: PG-13 (The Last Exorcism) vs. R (Piranha 3d). Teenagers are, by and large, the biggest demographic for horror films, and they will watch anything with the hint of blood or fear. I strongly suspect that Piranha 3D was seen by a lot more teenagers than paid for it. Why did The Lottery Ticket fall from number four to number 11 in one week, with a whopping 62 percent drop? That was the 14th biggest rank drop from opening weekend to second weekend of all time. It’s because those horror movie fans didn’t have to buy a ticket to another film this week. Or they bought a ticket to The Last Exorcism. and saw Piranha 3D, instead.

I wonder if studio heads ever strategically release a film to take advantage of tickets purchased to see another film? And it’s been a while since I had to sneak into a theater to see an R-rated film (I remember always feeling vaguely terrified as a teenager that I’d get caught), but I wonder if most theater employees (many of whom are teenagers themselves) even care? I’ve certainly never seen anyone pulled out of an R-rated movie for sneaking in.

The Last Exorcism’s weekend win, however, is still up in the air. It beat out Takers by only $300,000, and that may change when the final numbers roll in this afternoon. Not that anyone will care this afternoon. Not that anyone cares right now. That’s just about the dullest match-up of the year.

The Expandables and Eat, Pray, Love held on to numbers three and four, with $82 million and $60 million overall, respectively (in both cases, their box-office surpassed their budgets this week). The Other Guys hung on to number five, scoring $99 million cumulative (it’s budget was $100 million). And no one cares about the rest of the top ten.

However, here’s the good news: Avatar in re-release only made $4 million. Apparently, not so many people wanted to see the extra eight minutes in an already overlong film. Suck it, James Cameron. How does it feel to only add $4 million to a film that’s already the biggest box-office hit of all time? Loser.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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