Friday, January 24, 2014

'I, Frankenstein' Hopes You Have Fond Memories of 'Underworld' This Weekend at the Box Office

Scott looks at the lone new wide-release picture heading into the cinemas.  You get the feeling he isn't all that pumped to be one to help out its attempt to get top spot at the box office.  Scott offers up his analysis of the film's chances and who the filmmakers are trying to target for success.

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This weekend is quiet on the wide release front, as only one movie is hitting theatres. That film, I, Frankenstein, is about Aaron Eckhart as the creature of legend, and he becomes involved in a battle that pits gargoyles against demons. The trailers are quick to point out that this movie is brought to us by the same producers of Underworld, which is the same target audience that I, Frankenstein will be attempting to grab. As well as being by the same producers, the visuals have the exact same feel, and even the story itself is similar as it pits one supernatural clan against another, just like Underworld.

The Underworld franchise started with a great profit compared to budget, but had a hard time repeating that as budgets got a bit bigger (the first movie’s budget was $22 million, and the fourth’s was $70 million) and the audiences did not seem to grow substantially enough to produce the same kind profit ratio. Each of the four movies were all able to bring in over $20 million dollars opening weekend, and while it is the best comparison piece to I, Frankenstein, I don’t believe that will be an accurate predictor of what their latest attempt will do.

Knock-offs tend to not do as well as what they are following, that is just the general way it works. If it was not true then we would be stuck in a perpetual loop of the same movies coming out over and over again, and making more and more money. What will really hurt this knock-off (which already stands to not make the same money as Underworld did) is the fact that Underworld had Kate Beckinsale in form-fitting leather, and considering they are targeting the same demographic of young males, that will definitely not help its chances. While Aaron Eckhart is a fine actor, he is not really a marquee attraction, and does not seem to be the kind of talent that has any recognition with a younger audience. I doubt they will recognize that he was the neighbour in Erin Brockovich or that he had a stellar performance in Thank You for Smoking. I like him as an actor, but it appears to be the wrong person you would get for this type of role and for that type of crowd.

As well as promoting it off of the name recognition some of the producers have with Underworld, it is also based off of a graphic novel, which is a continuing trend coming out of Hollywood. The name value of the comic is not enough to draw out a huge existing audience, so I believe that is why they are relying so much on banking off of the Underworld connection. Interestingly enough, if you thought that the concept was so similar to Underworld, it would appear if it inspired the artist as Kevin Grevioux was an actor in Underworld prior to developing the comic. It all just seems so cyclic, and just feels like such a blatant repackaging of the same product.

At the time of writing this, 6:57pm on Thursday, January 23rd, there still is not a single review up for it on Rotten Tomatoes, and that is almost never a good sign. I can easily bet the critics will not enjoy this film at all, but considering how the year has started off, I would not be surprised if audiences flat out rejected it or flocked out to see it.

Underworld I, Frankenstein Opening Weekend Prediction - $14 million

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