“Blair Witch” 2016

This is the strange period during the annual movie release cycle when it’s more a matter of just killing time for studios waiting to unveil their awards season offerings. Though a major film did come out this week – Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” – the really big fall releases don’t start in earnest until next week with “The Magnificent Seven,” which is expected to open very big. But we’ll get to that next Sunday.

In the meantime, this weekend it was “Sully” again as the No. 1 film with $22 million, and a modest 37% drop-off from last week, though it’s sure to be knocked off its perch next week by “The Magnificent Seven”.

The horror film “Blair Witch” would seem to be a remake of the 1999 horror film “The Blair Witch Project”, which is still holds the record as one of the most profitable films ever made in cinema history, in terms of the ratio between production cost to total worldwide grosses. The original film, made for only $60,000, has grossed in today’s dollars some $359 million worldwide.

One would have to do some research as to what film holds the record as the most profitable film ever made. Maybe it’s “Gone with the Wind” or “The Sound of Music” or “Jaws”, or maybe “The Ten Commandments”, or even “The Birth of a Nation” (I’m referring of course to D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent film, not Nate Parker’s upcoming film), but “The Blair Witch Project” would be up there, if not at the top.

I still remember all the fuss about the film when it came out, seeing it at the theater, completely baffled as to why people were going nuts over it. It was basically 90 minutes of really badly shot video footage with people running around in a forest, and through some old abandoned building, screaming at the top of the lungs. That’s about it. Oh yes, someone finds a tooth. Ooooh really scary.

So one could assume that “Blair Witch” is just a remake of the original film. But there’s some confusion here. According to reviews, the film is not a remake, but a sequel to the original film. But there was an official sequel to “Project” which came out the very next year in 2000 called “Box of Shadows: The Blair Witch Project 2”, and which everyone hated, though it made some money, however nowhere even close to the original.

But then I read that “Blair Witch” was originally shot as a horror film entitled “The Woods”, and when Lionsgate saw the finished project, it was so similar to “Blair Witch” that they decided instead to change the title to “Blair Witch” to try to market it as a remake of the original.

However one thing I know for sure is that, though the film has two black characters in it, there’s a 98.7% chance that neither of them will make it alive by the end, and are most likely to be the first to get killed off.

This weekend, the film did have some interest from filmgoers, coming in second with just over $9.6 million, which is not bad for a film that cost only $5 million to make.

As for “Snowden”, Stone’s new film about the CIA whistle blower Edward Snowden, it’s gotten great reviews by critics, calling it a return to the familiar “controversial” Stone, who makes films about provocative subject matter. However, this time no one was interested in what he had to offer. The independently produced $40 million film, which was picked up for domestic release by Open Road, basically tanked, grossing only $8 million.

No doubt the subject matter was a serious impediment, since many in the USA consider Snowden a traitor; although there are those who think of him as a hero for what he did. Also Joseph Gordon-Levitt has yet to prove he’s a movie star capable of bringing people to theater, let alone even carry a film.

And just who exactly was asking for a third “Bridget Jones” film? Anyone? Please raise your hand. Another perfect example of Hollywood’s poverty of ideas when it come to making original films. So not surprisingly “Bridget Jones’ Baby” pretty much landed with a thud in third place with $8.2 million.

As for holdovers, “When the Bough Breaks” dropped a huge 61% to land in fifth place with $5.5 million, and with nearly $22.7 million to date. As I mentioned last week, the black erotic thriller may have finally reached its limit, recycling the same plots with the same stars.

But “Don’t Breathe” continues to hold very steady with over $75 million domestically so far, and over $107 million worldwide, making it far and away still one of the most profitable movies of 2016, while studios still lose billions on bloated tentpole films that people really don’t want to see.

The top 12 films at the box office this weekend follow:

1) Sully WB $22,000,000 Total: $70,541,351
2) Blair Witch LGF $9,650,000
3) Bridget Jones’s Baby Uni. $8,240,715
4) Snowden ORF $8,023,329 –
5) Don’t Breathe SGem $5,600,000 Total: $75,328,781
6) When the Bough Breaks SGem $5,525,000 Total: $22,697,732
7) Suicide Squad WB $4,710,000 -Total: $313,782,332
8) The Wild Life LG/S $2,650,000 Total: $6,664,269
9) Kubo and the Two Strings Focus $2,509,000 Total: $44,240,974
10) Pete’s Dragon BV $2,041,000 Total: $72,805,525
11) Hell or High Water LGF $1,925,000 Total: $22,725,531
12) Bad Moms STX $1,789,000 Total: $110,033,928