Weekend Report: “The Visit” “Perfect Guy” Surpass Expectations Over Busy September Weekend

With two wholly original, low budget films opening over $25M, it’s safe to say that it was a very good weekend at the box office. The Perfect Guy turned out to be an appealing option for date nights, whereas The Visit had one of the best openings ever for an original horror film.

The Visit opened with $25.7M over the three day period. That’s the highest debut for a horror movie this year, surpassing Poltergeist ($22M) The Gallows ($9M) and The Gift ($13M). Not to mention, it handily topped the debut of Insidious: Chapter 3 at $22.7M, which is particularly interesting given how that film had a higher budget and a built in fanbase. Also interesting is that it had a 15% jump from Friday to Saturday, which is unheard of for a horror film. A typical drop is around 25%-30% Fri-to-Sat, so that hold is a very good sign for the films long term prospects.

Perhaps this is a sign that audiences are more interested in horror films during the fall rather than the busy summer months, but there’s a few other factors that helped add to this excellent start. One, the interest surrounding M Night Shyamalan. The rumor is that he filmed this movie in secret and payed for it using his own money. Given how poorly his last few films have been received and how his own name has become box office poison, slapping it right on the poster and in all of the trailers was a bold move. Second, the marketing played it up as an interesting and somewhat tongue-in-cheek horror comedy. Third was the fact that it was only PG-13 rather than R. Strangely, The Gallows received an R rating even though it was clearly aimed towards a younger audience with the found footage style and high-school setting. No matter how you slice it, however, a film making five times its budget in its opening weekend is a fantastic start. Word of mouth was a B- from Cinemascore, which is fine for a horror film.

Arguably more impressive, however, was The Perfect Guy, a $12M stalker thriller that opened to an excellent $26.7M. That’s above last years No Good Deed at $24M, which also had a slightly higher budget. Despite awful reviews (31%), audiences seemed to enjoy it, giving it an A- on Cinemascore. This is a very strong start given its hard to sell premise and lack of star power. It will likely be very front loaded, however, and will probably wind up with around $55-$60M total.

90 Minutes in Heaven opened with a weak $2.16M from 878 locations. That’s more The Identical than War Room, unfortunately. Speaking of which, War Room more than tripled this debut in its third weekend, bringing in another $7.4M to lift its domestic total to an excellent $39M. The studio that released 90 Minutes must be kicking themselves for releasing it at such a bad time. In another two months or so it probably would’ve done fine, but War Room is being held up by excellent word of mouth, and is as a result having unprecedented drops.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation had an excellent five day start in China, and as a result brought its worldwide total to over $600M. It also brought in another $4M this weekend, bringing its domestic total to $188M. That’s excellent sequel retention for a film in this genre, and will plenty of China money left to come has a chance of topping Ghost Protocol‘s $694M worldwide total.

Maze Runner – The Scorch Trials opened in several foreign markets and brought in $26.8M. Given how well The Maze Runner did overseas ($238M) and the tendency for young adult sequels to have higher overseas grosses than their predecessors, Scorch Trials is more or less already a lock for a strong performance.

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