Two horror flicks help bring ticket sales back from last week's slide

By Lori Reese
Updated September 24, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Legends: Michael Gibson
  • Movie

Even while Hollywood studios are under attack in Washington for marketing violent films to kids, moviegoers proved their love for the blood ‘n’ guts genre, as two horror flicks topped the weekend box office. The youth targeted slasher movie ”Urban Legends: Final Cut” took the No. 1 position with an estimated $8.8 million in ticket sales. The film about a knife wielding killer who takes aim at a pack of nubile coeds probably doesn’t please the censorious pols.

But its healthy weekend take no doubt brings some solace to studio execs after last week, when the top 12 films hit a nightmarish three year low of $37.9 million in total sales. Likewise, the successful rerelease of ”The Exorcist” (No. 2) indicates the timeless profitability of fright flicks. The revamped 1973 William Friedkin classic scared up an astonishing $8.5 mil on just 664 screens. ”Horror is a tried and true genre,” Exhibitor Relations’ Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. ”One was just from the old school and the other new school.”

Indeed, only two of the weekend’s top five films were entirely blood free. Cameron Crowe’s rock & roll bildungs tale, ”Almost Famous” (No. 3), scored $7 million in ticket sales, while ”Bring It On” (No. 4) earned another $4.2 mil. Keanu Reeves’ serial killer movie, ”The Watcher,” took the No. 5 spot with $3.6 million. Meanwhile, the weekend’s big loser was the Penelope Cruz cooking comedy ”Woman on Top” (No. 10), which earned a lowly $1.9 mil.

CRITICAL MASS Once again,’s readers have taken issue with the box office’s big winner. ”Urban Legends” may have made a financial killing, but readers excoriated the slasher flick with a lowly grade of C-. (Critics have yet to weigh in with their scores, but one can pretty much guess what they would have to say about such teen targeted fare.) It’s not surprising that the lowest score of D+ came from the over 40 crowd, but even the under 29 camp gave the film a mediocre mark of C. Likewise, it looks as though this film’s word of mouth could pretty much be summed up in the words, ”Beware of blood spattered campuses.” More than half of’s readers said that they are unlikely to see ”Urban Legends” again, while NO ONE indicated that they would recommend the movie to friends.

”The Exorcist,” on the other hand, proved its status as a chilling paragon of the genre. The revamped horror flick earned an admiring A- from readers, and some 62 percent said that they are very likely to see the movie… yet again. Moreover, some 62 percent also said that the film’s new and improved thrills were far better than they had expected, and a whopping 75 percent of voters said that they would recommend the experience to friends. We’d better stop this madness soon, before our suburban high schools are overrun with copycat demon exorcists.

To vote on these and other current movies, visit our Critical Mass Movie Poll.

Almost Famous

  • Movie
  • R
  • 124 minutes
  • Cameron Crowe