Box Office Special - Monsters vs. Aliens vs. Hauntings

In what may be a landmark first, the top three films at this past weekend's box office were all (at least marginally) genre themed releases. Leading the way in what was an extremely strong weekend overall was "Monsters vs. Aliens," a 3-D tribute to creature features past as well as a big budget animated kids film. It was also the largest opening of the year thus far, beating out "Watchmen" by roughly 10%, with a total of $59 million. "M vs. A" opened big enough to best the rest of top five films' revenues combined, though at number two, "Haunting in Connecticut" should feel pretty good about its performance. Particularly, with the number three film, "Knowing," which was tops last week, siphoning off potential PG-13 genre fans.

"Haunting" was the the fourth non-R horror film of the year (if you count "Knowing," which I will). While it's overall weekend performance was slightly below "Knowing's" total from last weekend, "Haunting" opened on 600 fewer screens and thus made almost $1,000 more per screen. Indeed, "Haunting" posted the second highest per screen numbers of any horror film in 2009, narrowly beating out January's "Valentine" and "Unborn."

With "Haunting" and "Knowing's" releases over the last two weekends, there have also now been eight horror releases in 2009 -- four R-rated features and four PG-13. And to mark the occasion, I've gone ahead and published the first edition of the 2009 Horrors at the Box spreadsheet (2008's numbers are also included for comparison). It chronicles the performance of the major horror releases for the year. I've also calculated out the averages and medians of the PG-13 films and the R-rated films, which you'll see in a beautifully color-coordinated box at the bottom.

It's tough to draw too many conclusions, but it is interesting to see that R-rated films have been fairing unquestionably better than their PG-13 counterparts. No where is this more evident than in the world wide numbers, where R-rated films have averaged more than $20 million in box office revenue more than PG-13 films. The caveat here is that not all films are released in all countries on the same schedule, so take all of these comparisons with a grain of salt. But the sheer size of the difference can not be easily dismissed. As things stand we're not going to be seeing any new horror releases until May, so we'll have plenty of time to paw through these numbers over the next couple of weeks. We'll also get a much better idea of where the two most recent releases are going to shake out in the wider picture.

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