Jurassic Park looks to wipe out competition

The box office rose to nice enough levels over the Easter weekend, with G.I. Joe: Retaliation commandeering a $51 million-plus total for its four-day opening weekend. Though that’s slightly less than the take of its predecessor, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, that film opened in the middle of the summer.

The real story is that its international numbers constituted a 70 percent increase over the first movie’s, which partly justifies its nine-month delay and 3D conversion.

Other films did just as well, with The Croods dropping only 38.8 percent from its opening weekend, which seems to show that the family dynamic of the film is really connecting with audiences, while Tyler Perry’s Temptation did $21.6 million. Not bad for an erotic thriller that’s been accused of being, well, the same as any other Tyler Perry movie.

Though April has historically been a dead month for films (there are only seven wide releases through the month), this year, studios have brought some high-level releases to the forefront. This weekend, we see two films that’ll bring us back in time: the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park and the Evil Dead remake.

Jurassic Park 3D is the latest in a run of 3D re-releases over the past two years. This move came because the The Lion King re-release in 2011 broke out with a phenomenal $94.2 million. Since then, though, most of the re-releases have only drawn in revenues in the range of $40 million to $60 million, which is where people expect Jurassic Park 3D to end up.

There are, however different factors to consider.

For one, while Star Wars: Episode I and Titanic were extremely popular at their times of release, with the latter film still ranking as the second highest-grossing film of all time, they’re not exactly the most beloved films of the franchise. You’d have to classify those films as phenomenons; features that were just able to connect at the right time.

Jurassic Park, though, is not only one of the most popular films of all time but one of the most beloved; it was one of those generational experiences that defined the youth of the current generation. The fact that the revolutionary CGI still holds up 20 years after its release is a testament to just how ahead of its time it was — that was one reason why The Lion King did so well.

However, the The Lion King 3D also had the advantage of the original film not being released on Blu-ray yet. In contrast, other re-releases so far have not only been on home video but also are shown regularly on TV channels (Spike TV seemed at one point to be showing the Star Wars prequel trilogy every other week).

Jurassic Park 3D does have that working against it since it’s been on Blu-ray/DVD for a while now and is shown on television from time to time.  The nature of the film and the chance to see the T. Rex on the giant screen again, however, seems to be overcoming the fact that anyone could watch it at home right now if he or she wanted to. Expect an opening in the higher $20 millions, if not right at $30 million.

This weekend’s single current release is Evil Dead, the remake/side story to the Evil Dead trilogy directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell as the boomstick-wielding, chainsaw-handed Ash. This film, directed by Fede Alvarez, replaces Ash with Mia, played by Jane Levy, and returns to the plot of the first film with a group of friends traveling to a cabin in the woods and coming across a book that ends up summoning a demonic force.

As far as horror remakes go, the hype for Evil Dead has been extremely high, with a glowing response from its screening at South By Southwest. Raimi, who produced this remake, also used his publicity tour for his feature Oz: The Great and Powerful to talk about Evil Dead even more than his own film. The fact it declares right there on the poster that it’s “the most terrifying film you will ever experience,” is a lot to live up to.

The issue, though, is that if it’s going for name recognition, there are a few problems with that. The remake seems to be more in line with the straight horror of the original even though the franchise was more popularized by the campy absurdity of Evil Dead 2 and especially Army of Darkness. And without a character as distinctive and odd as Ash, it makes this film seem like any other hyper-violent horror remake with no real discernible hook.

It is easily the most hyped horror film in a while, though, and it fills a niche; while it could break out to a mid-$20 million opening or higher, it’ll likely settle slightly below that. Raimi and Campbell do hope that the success of this film can lead to an Army of Darkness 2 film.

So you have a choice: a hyped-up, extremely bloody horror film or the dinosaur film. If you grew up in the ’90s, the answer should be obvious (it’s OK, velociraptors will always be cool).


Robert Calcagno is a second-year graduate student in the School of Cinematic Arts pursing an MFA in animation. His column “Box Office Beat” runs Fridays.