In the seven weeks since "Transformers 2" opened the average budget for a weekend-winning film has been $156 million. That's an average, mind you, and it's weighed down somewhat by "Bruno," which opened at #1 after costing only a measly $42 million. Truly, this summer, big-budgets have been king. Even "Bruno" was the most expensive new release in the weekend that it won.
The big budget blockbuster dominance finally came to end this week however, with the highly-anticipated, critical and fan-boy darling "District 9." Backed by nerd-powerhouse Peter Jackson, the feature directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp -- a Jackson protege -- went to #1 on a budget of $30 million dollars. "District 9's" haul is even more impressive when one considers that it's not some lo-fi talky, but instead an F/X heavy sci-fi thriller, complete with mech-armor and lightning guns. The film even beat out the more expensive "Time Traveler's Wife," a weepy literary adaptation that somehow cost $39 million. While "District 9's" $37 million total might not be as eye-popping as say "Harry Potter 6's" opening, it was the 3rd largest open for an R-rated film in 2009 ("The Hangover" and "Friday the 13th" were larger), and the 19th largest R-rated opening of all time.
On the opposite end of the box office spectrum is "A Perfect Getaway," last week's podcast topic. The film, which the crew generally enjoyed, never really caught fire. Opening to the tune of $6 million, "Getaway" started out at #7, and dropped to #12 this weekend. This shouldn't be a shock, as the film doesn't necessarily lend itself to high-concept advertising (that is to say it doesn't have shiny robots or action figures jumping over missiles). The upside though, is that with a budget of $14 million it would be near impossible for "Getaway" to have truly failed. And while U.S. audiences aren't buying, foreign movie-goers are just now getting a crack at it, and should easily send it into the black.
Running down the list, we don't have to go far to hit the summer's other notable horror release: "Orphan." Now in its 4th weekend, the little family drama is still clocking in at #15, and is flirting with a domestic total of $40 million. It's already surpassed the total of "Last House on the Left," the next most recent R-rated horror release, and there's an outside chance "Orphan" will surpass "Drag Me to Hell," which is virtually done stateside with a total of $42 million. Raimi's film though, has been a beast overseas, running it's worldwide total to $76 million. One could say that this is a statement on the superior tastes of foreign film fans, but they also showed "Knowing" a lot of love, so don't worry if you're confused.
If you're interested in how the rest of the '09 horror releases are stacking up, check the "Horrors at the Box" spreadsheet, conveniently updated for your box office following needs. We're now only T-minus 12 days or so till the showdown we've all been waiting for: "Halloween 2" vs. "The Final Destination (3-D!!!)." Even if both of the movies disappoint, the box office watching should be a hell of a ride.