Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ remake is opening weak at the box office

Maybe Spike Lee should have kept “Oldboy” in captivity.

The outspoken director’s remake of the decade-old Korean movie of the same name was released in fewer than 600 theaters this weekend, posting about $400,000 in ticket sales Wednesday and Thursday combined. That puts the movie on pace to generate less than $2 million through the Thanksgiving weekend, probably making it one of the biggest flops of the year.

A $2-million total would give the FilmDistrict movie a per-theater average of between $3,000 and $4,000, putting it in similar territory to Universal’s recent bomb “R.I.P.D.” ($4,450 a screen for its opening weekend in July), though it’s not as poor as DreamWorks’ Julian Assange drama “The Fifth Estate” ($946 a screen) in October.

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Lee’s “Oldboy” stars Josh Brolin as a man who is mysteriously held captive for 20 years. The Korean original, directed by Park Chan-wook, drew high praise from Quentin Tarantino and was well-received by U.S. critics, scoring an 80% “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The remake has not gone over as well, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 43%.

“Oldboy” entered theaters during a busy holiday weekend, with Lionsgate’s blockbuster sequel “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” breaking records and Walt Disney Pictures’ highly anticipated computer-animated musical “Frozen” drawing lots of moviegoers. Also competing for attention are the action film “Homefront,” starring Jason Statham, and the musical “Black Nativity,” each on track to make less than $10 million over the long holiday weekend.

Lee, best known for movies including “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcom X,” last had a big box-office success with “Inside Man” in 2006, which grossed more than $88.5 million domestically.


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