LOS ANGELES • George Clooney served up a comedic drama that gave Paramount Pictures the worst wide-release opening total in its history. Steven Spielberg's production company delivered a military drama that went widely ignored. The Weinstein Company offloaded a horror movie in very limited release and took in a grand total of US$742 (S$1,012).
Put simply: Hollywood had another horrific weekend at the box office. The No. 1 movie was Jigsaw, the eighth instalment in the Saw horror series. It took in about US$16.3 million, according to comScore, which compiles box-office data, tying with Saw VI (2009) for the lowest opening in the franchise, after adjusting for inflation.
Analysts had anticipated ticket sales of roughly US$20 million for Jigsaw, which received poor reviews.
According to comScore, North American ticket sales for October totalled US$539 million, a 13 per cent decline from the same month last year, when dramas such as The Accountant and The Girl On The Train got turnstiles clicking.
Explanations for the downturn include the escalating popularity of streaming services - Stranger Things 2 arrived on Netflix on Friday - and subpar offerings from Hollywood. Clooney's Suburbicon received a D-minus grade from ticket-buyers in CinemaScore exit polls.
The film is Clooney's sixth as a director and his fourth misfire. Bludgeoned by critics - "a tonal disaster from start to finish" is how RogerEbert.com put it - Suburbicon cost about US$25 million to make and took in roughly US$2.8 million in the United States.
The film is not a financial catastrophe for Paramount. After initially passing on the script, the studio ended up paying about US$10 million for US rights. Foreign distributors covered the balance of the cost.
The problem is that Clooney - an Oscar-winning actor and producer - has now had more misses than hits as a director, which is usually when studios cut off the money.
Also flopping over the weekend was Thank You For Your Service, which cost Spielberg's Amblin Partners US$20 million to make and took in roughly US$3.7 million. The film, which received mostly positive reviews and was distributed by Universal Pictures, may have suffered from a lack of audience interest in films involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also notable: Amityville: The Awakening, a low-budget horror movie from Dimension, a division of the embattled Weinstein Co, and Blumhouse Productions, was made available in 10 theatres last Saturday. The fate of this movie, which was released on GooglePlay for free this month, was decided long before the sexual harassment crisis that has enveloped The Weinstein Co in recent weeks.
But it nonetheless adds to the poor recent track record of Dimension, run by producer Harvey Weinstein's brother, Bob.