The Meg surprised a lot of experts and journalists this weekend by making more than double its estimated take at the weekend box office, finishing with an estimated $44.5 million dollars.
The monster shark tale not only won the domestic box office this weekend, but it also performed very strongly overseas with an additional $97 million in ticket sales. The high international number is not as surprising as the domestic victory however, as the film was a joint venture between Warner Brothers, China Media Capital and TVB, so it was a film that was designed to appeal to the overseas market (particularly Asian ticket buyers).
How did The Meg achieve this “full breach seal attack” on theaters in the U.S.? The dino sized-shark did better with critics than expected (50% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a rainy weekend for a large part of the country also brought a lot of people to theaters, but the main factor may have been a shrewd advertising campaign targeted at those most likely to watch a movie about sharks, the viewers of Discovery’s annual Shark Week. The 30th annual event featured numerous ads during the week long prime time broadcast, as well as appearances by stars from The Meg on the nightly recap show, Shark After Dark, and a direct tie-in special that examined the Truth and Fiction about the prehistoric beast (and, naturally, featured footage from The Meg). According to the Wrap, “Discovery’s shark-themed programming reached 39.4 million total viewers, according to Nielsen” and many of them were in the coveted 18-49 demographic.
Unlike The Meg, that tall drink of water by the name of Slender Man didn’t fare as well. The Creepy Pasta inspired film earned $11.3 million and finished fourth in its debut weekend. The number was higher than predicted however, and it must have made Screen Gems happy after all of the shenanigans involving release dates and the controversy which threatened to derail a theatrical opening (some theater chains in Wisconsin decided not to screen the film in counties that were in close proximity to the site of the real-life tragedy that was associated with the Creepy Pasta character/story).
And although Screen Gems was happy to make any of their budget back (a reported $10 million in productions costs), people who saw the film couldn’t say the same. Slender Man currently sits at 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, but even more troubling, viewers who saw the film on opening night rated the film with a lower-than-low D- Cinemascore. According to these stats, the only person who ever had a worse experience with ‘pasta’ has to be Frederick Henry from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms who had one of his legs blown off by a mortar while eating pasta with cheese in a bunker during World War One. With those type of metrics, don’t expect Slender Man to stick around for too long at your local theater or to add much to its initial gross.
Be sure to keep up with the exploits of The Meg at Horror News Network and also keep your eyes peeled for our official Fall Horror Movie Preview coming in early September!