Overture Films’ new release ‘The Crazies,’ starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchel, ranked third during its opening weekend of February 26-28, earning an estimated $16.52 million. It came in second behind the previous weekend’s box office champion ‘Shutter Island,’ the fourth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and the weekend’s other wide release, Kevin Smith’s ‘Cop Out.’ Those films earned $22.2 million and $18.6 million, respectably.
But the third place ranking for ‘The Crazies’ is actually a great feat for the film, as it was shown at 2,476 theaters nationally, ranking in a per-theater average of $6,672. This was actually the second highest per-theater average out of the top ten grossing movies of the weekend. Also, the horror remake of the 1973 movie with the same name was made for a modest $20 million. Therefore, it needs to make just $4 million more during its theatrical run to make a profit and be considered successful.
‘The Crazies’ is about the small Iowa farming town of Ogden Marsh, which is plagued by a mysterious toxin that contaminates the water supply. Citizens are suddenly plagued by insanity and then death after being exposed to the water. Sheriff David Dutton, played by Olyphant, and his wife Judy, the town’s doctor, played by Mitchel, must avoid both the military and the infection to escape Ogden Marsh and reach Cedar Rapids.
‘The Crazies’ will certainly help revive the career of director Breck Eisner, the son of Disney’s former chief executive Michael Eisner, who’s best known for helming the 2005 Matthew McConaughey-Penelope Cruz action/adventure flop ‘Sahara.’ While that film debuted at number one during its April 8-10 weekend release, earning $18 million, it drew in $202.9 million against a budget of $281.2 million. The movie lost $78.3 million for its distributor Paramount Pictures, making it one of the biggest financial failures in Hollywood history.
But Eisner bounced back with ‘The Crazies,’ his first film since ‘Sahara.’ The movie was certainly helped by screenwriter Scott Kosar, who’s no stranger to the horror remake genre. He’s written the scripts for Platinum Dunes’ hit remakes of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)’ and ‘The Amityville Horror (2005),’ so he knows how to rework classic horror films and make them appeal to today’s audience.
‘The Crazies’ was executive-produced by zombie legend George A. Romero, who also helped write the movie. He injected his infamous social commentary into the plot, paralleling the plotline of his cult favorite ‘Day of the Day.’ The message in both films is that the military’s only thought is to kill the crazy, zombie-like townspeople who caught the infection when their science experiment goes awry.
Olyphant certainly helped the movie as well. He can successfully adapt to any script he takes on, such as the 2007 romantic comedy ‘Catch and Release’ or that year’s action/video game-based film ‘Hitman.’ Olyphant believably portrayed the loving husband and sheriff, and seemed to genuinely care what would happen to the people of Ogden Marsh.
While the audience gets what it expected from the movie, Overture Films, a relatively new studio, should be happy with its decision to release ‘The Crazies.’ While the American market is currently over-saturated with horror remakes, this remake of a lesser-known original should be at the top of any horror fan’s list.
Written by: Karen Benardello