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« Review: "Lawless" | Main | The Links We Share »

No Exorcisms Ever Rid the Box Office of Its Demons

If there's a sure way to hit #1 at the box office with minimal effort, it's this: make a demonic possession flick. Someone should do a study because it seems to me that they're the most profitable subgenre ...of anything. They always open well even if they feel virtually indistiguishable from the last one. Even if the last one was super recent. Even if they aren't innovative with f/x. Even if they have no stars. It makes you wonder if The Exorcist, discussed robustly recently here, is the most influential movie of the past 40 years rather than Jaws which usually gets the credit in building the foundation of our current cinematic culture.

Chart adapted from Box Office Mojo

This makes me wish exorcism flicks would go extreme mash-up. Let's take some genres which the mass public are weirdly averse to despite their entertainment value, say the screwball comedy or the musical or the adult romance (non comedic) and revive interest in them by throwing a little demonic possession in as a subplot. Imagine the setpieces!

What did you see this weekend? Or, since the weekend isn't officially closed until Monday night (Happy Labor Day!) which movie are you planning to see? I saw Lawless (review later tonight) and I almost made it to Premium Rush because I'm anxious for Looper. It made a kind of impulse item sense but I was thwarted.

what's in the bag?

Maybe the studio would have pushed it harder if a demon-possessed baby was in JGL's courier bag?

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Reader Comments (14)

Was going to see Alps, but it turns out it was only playing in Montreal for one week, and I missed it. So instead we're going to see Dark Knight Rises, because some friends are going. I feel a little foolish going to see a movie that I'm already predisposed to dislike, but I look forward to the Hathaway, because my life doesn't have enough of her in it.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I saw Premium Rush and Lawless back-to-back. PR is predictably thin, but it wraps up decently even if the tension is weirdly front-loaded. JGL holds back nicely.

Lawless is...I have no idea. I'm not sure if I've ever left a film with such ambiguous feelings. Mostly I just want Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain to pair up again. The plot gave them nothing, but their chemistry was on.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacob D

Glad to see tha tStreep's movie is hanging in the top 10 ... and that has made that sum of money.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Thinking about seeing Cosmopolis later tonight or tomorrow. I remember reading the book and thinking it was just okay but would make an interesting movie.

However, it's always hard to drag myself to another part of the city alone, so we'll see if I make it.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Saw Premium Rush. JGL is dreamy, as always and Michael Shannon chews the scenery with aplomb, but David Koepp is not much of a writer or director at this point (he was never much of a director, IMO) and the movie really suffers from his lack of vision. In the hands of someone like the late Tony Scott this movie could've really been something, but as is it just comes off like a cheap summer programmer. This is not the worst thing in the world, but it still feels like a wasted opportunity.

Also saw Robot & Frank. (spoiler) I was disappointed when it turned into a heist movie. The heist angle is actually what got me to buy a ticket in the first place, but I much preferred the early portion when it was just Frank adjusting to life with the robot. There was something very touching about that material that got lost in the clutter of plot points later on. Still, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, and Langella is pretty terrific in one of the title rolls.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I think "The Possession" is about a jewish exorcism, so it's a little bit different.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Speaking of La Streep. I saw Hope Springs. It's a fine film. Many of the bits don't work, and the tones move more than they should, but that marriage is particularly well-wrought. Meryl does some really fine work especially in the second half.
It's my favorite Meryl portrayal since The Devil Wears Prada. But the real revelation was Tommy Lee Jones. Surely, his Texas Ranger cadence and humor is still in place, but watching the character come alive in his face and voice is something truly sensational. He has a face that is etched like a map of the world, but those wrinkles show in every way with this financial planner from Omaha whose marriage is on the brink.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

I also saw Hope Springs which I thought was really quite good. I understand why they pushed it as a comedy (because a lot of it is REALLY depressing), but it really isn't, despite what the pop songs and Romantic Comedy Musical Cues (TM) want you to believe. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones were both fantastic at painting a beautiful portrait of a married couple in stasis trying to find their groove again. I thought the script lost its nerve a bit towards the end (it arrived its climax too soon and dodged some of the riskier character arcs it looked like it was heading towards), but it was so nice to go to a mostly smart, sensitive, well-thought-out film for adults.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I saw "ParaNorman" which I thought was a bit too dark for a kiddie movie- and the premise which is basically " The Sixth Sense meets Scooby Doo" could have easily been made as a live action movie. SPOILER ALERT - yes one of the main characters turns out to be gay but it's basically a throw away gag- much more disturbing was the Uncle who acted like a creepy child stalker who scares Norman when he shows up in the school toilet.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I watched the first season of Homeland this weekend. After much buzz about Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, I'm wondering why nobody is praising Mandy Patakin? He's really the stand out of the series.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterK

I don't know if they're the most profitable subgenre for a simple reason: effects. Exorcism films are always effects heavy. At the very least, you have a lot of editing to combine the footage of the different scare poses. So they might do well at the box office, but they're not exactly the cheapest films to make.

I saw Lawless and then was sick all weekend. I planned on seeing Paranorman, Cosmopolis, and The Possession, as well, but those will have to wait for the week.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Hi Marsha! I'm a big fan. I just rewatched Chapter Two, which was playing on TCM Friday, and it was just terrific! Your brilliant speech at the end always gives me goosebumps. Thank you so much for that!

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Originally planned to watch The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure if only to support Toni Braxton, but ended up watching the Jet Li-film Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D which was also in IMAX (my first!). I'm happy to say I really enjoyed it and I've finally seen a film worth the 3D price (then again, I saw a matinee showtime as well), versus my previous two experiences (The Last Airbender, Piranha 3D).

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

OMG I totally saw Premium Rush because I was anxious for Looper. It was a lot of fun despite Dania Ramirez.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp
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