‘Carrie’ fails to scare off unstoppable ‘Gravity’ at the box office

Chloe Grace Moretz stars in "Carrie," which was unable to pull off a win at the box office this weekend.
(Sony Pictures)

“Carrie” was unable to spook the unflappable “Gravity” at the box office this weekend, as the hit 3-D space drama easily claimed No. 1 for the third week in a row.

Heading into the weekend, industry projections indicated the two films would be in a tight race for the top spot, with each movie poised to take in between $30 million and $35 million. But only “Gravity” hit that mark, collecting $31 million. According to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros., the film starring Sandra Bullock has sold $170.6 million worth of tickets since its debut 17 days ago.

Movie box office: An article in the Oct. 21 Calendar section about the weekend box-office results said Fox Searchlight was one of the co-financiers on the movie “12 Years a Slave.” The studio did not contribute to the film’s budget. —

Things didn’t get downright bloody for “Carrie,” but the film still fell far short of tracking predictions. The remake of the 1976 horror classic opened with a so-so $17 million -- about as much as the studio releasing the movie, Sony Pictures, had said it expected the film to start off with.

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Things were even worse for the weekend’s other newcomers. The pricey action film “Escape Plan,” co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, launched with an embarrassing $9.8 million. And practically no one was interested in the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as a drama about him, “The Fifth Estate,” flopped with $1.7 million.

“Carrie” would be in worse shape if it hadn’t been made on a modest budget, but the picture was co-financed by MGM and Sony’s Screen Gems label for $30 million. Even if the film isn’t a major failure, it won’t be a big success, either. To put things in perspective, Brian De Palma’s original “Carrie,” based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel, grossed $33 million in 1976 -- about as much as the remake may ultimately collect.

The new version of “Carrie” stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a bullied teen girl who uses special powers to get back at those who have taunted her. At 16, Moretz has already appeared in a number of supporting roles in prominent films like “Hugo” and “Kick-Ass,” though “Carrie” marked her debut as a leading lady.

Its subject matter apparently helped the film appeal to a younger female audience this weekend; 56% of those in attendance were under the age of 25. Those who saw the movie assigned it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, the worst grade given to any of the weekend’s new wide releases.

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Meanwhile, the few who saw “Escape Plan” were older: 61% of the audience was over 30. The movie, in which Schwarzenegger and Stallone try to escape from a locked-down prison, received a B+ CinemaScore.

After tax incentives, the film’s budget was about $50 million. The movie was co-financed by Emmett/Furla films and Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment, which says it recouped much of the film’s production costs through international pre-sales and licensing deals.

Though he was a big movie star in the 80s and 90s, Schwarzenegger has been unable to reclaim box office glory in recent years. “Escape Plan” is the second flop for the 66-year-old actor-turned-governor this year, following “The Last Stand” in January. While he is a part of the successful “The Expendables” franchise, it seems moviegoers are uninterested in seeing “The Terminator” as a leading man.

“The Fifth Estate” is a major disappointment for DreamWorks SKG, which had initially hoped the movie might be an awards contender. But when the film was unveiled at the Toronto Film Festival in September, it was met with lukewarm reviews. Furthermore, Assange has publicly slammed the production. In an email to actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays him in the movie, Assange said he did “not believe that this film is a good film.”

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“This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads,” Assange wrote. “It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand.”

The movie, distributed by Walt Disney Studios, was co-financed by DreamWorks and Participant Media for $26 million. DreamWorks says foreign pre-sales took care of 50% of the budget, though the film is still likely to be a financial loser for the studio.

On Sunday morning, Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president of distribution, did little to mask his feelings about the film’s performance: “We are disappointed with these results,” he said.


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