3D’s Bloody Hit

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Mon, 01/26/2009 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

In a month during which the United States saw more than its fair share of historic firsts the digital cinema world saw one of its own: My Bloody Valentine 3D was the first horror movie released in digital 3D and it was also the first to run on more than a thousand 3D screens.  Across the country consumers and critics alike have praised the movie. With critical acclaim and a box office take of more than $24 million in its first five days Lionsgate has a hit on its hands. Most of the online user reviews echoed these: “3D is here to stay!” “The slasher movie redefined …” “Everything you’d want & more.” Most of the major critics seemed to agree. Jeannett Catsoulis wrote in the New York Times: “A strange synergy of old and new “My Bloody Valentine 3D” blends cutting-edge technology and old-school prosthetics to produce something both familiar and alien: gore you can believe in. From the moment you duck a flying mandible and gaze mesmerized at a severed hand oozing two inches from your nose you’ll be convinced that the extra dimension was worth seeking out. Stabilized by the welcome faces of old pros like Kevin Tighe and the genre giant Tom Atkins (The Fog Creepshow) the movie’s staggering depth perception — you’ve seen a body cavity before but how many have you fallen into? — is never disorienting. And if the wheezing gas-masked villain is less than inspired his parking-lot-to-motel-room pursuit of a naked terrified young woman (Betsy Rue) is the most entertaining five minutes I’ve spent in a movie theatre in quite some time.” Lionsgate’s Mike Polydoros was understandably upbeat when I spoke with him the week after the movie came out. “We’re all through the roof here ” he said. The movie has exceeded all internal expectations. According to Polydoros in its first weekend the movie had a very respectable $19 000 per screen average on 1 033 3D screens 2534 total screens. (According to Box Office Mojo the movie had done a total of $37 687 394 in business after second weekend.) Polydoros said some 3D screens outperformed the 2D version by six-to-one. “We are a very nimble company ” he said as he explained the impetus behind My Blood Valentine 3D. “We wanted to be the first out of the box with a 3D horror film.” Polydoros said the filmmakers’ goal was first to make “a great 80s slasher film and then add some 3D elements.” The production budget was under $15 million. Asked about the decisions involved in releasing the movie Polydoros paused and then said “That was an adventure.” In his mind there are two key questions to be addressed when releasing any film. Are there any films in the same or similar genre releasing at the same time and are there enough available screens in this case 3D screens? Lionsgate might have preferred to release around Valentine’s Day but the perennial and newly remade Friday the 13th is releasing then. And the Coraline 3D movie released on February 6 was expected to take up many if not most of the available 3D screens. An added challenge was the fact that to date all of the 3D releases have been family films and what works for a family film doesn’t always work for a horror film. The results suggest that Polydoros and Lionsgate answered all the challenges. Whether a movie is 3D or not Polydoros who is responsible for overseeing digital cinema developments for Lionsgate is certain that all their movies going forward with digital releases. “If you don’t release it digitally today ” he said “you’re leaving money on the table.” The next 3D release scheduled from Lionsgate is Alpha and Omega an animated family movie due out in April 2010. “Do we offer a 2D version next time?” he speculated. “It depends on the number of 3D screens available.”