Indian Summer Heartache

Simon Varsano

An oversized crop of movies falls like leaves as the box office wilts.

While September brought record grosses of $602.6 million at the North American box office -- fueled by unlikely heroes including The Lion King, Contagion and The Help -- the month was littered with disappointments, following an equally sobering August. Genre pics, a staple of late summer and early fall, were hardest hit. Some will recoup their costs thanks to foreign presales and international earnings; others won't. Many box-office observers say there were simply too many films vying for the same moviegoers. Part of the issue is the challenge faced by new midrange distributors in scheduling films -- they don't want to go out in the heat of summer and compete with big-studio fare. That's not to say there weren't big-studio misses, too. The budget figures listed at right do not include marketing spends, which easily start at $20 million for a wide release in North America.

  • The Change-Up (Universal; Aug. 5) Budget: $52 mil | Box office: $54.5 mil
  • Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Fox; Aug. 12) Budget: $9 mil | Box office: $17.5 mil
  • 30 Minutes or Less (Sony; Aug. 12) Budget: $28 mil | Box office: $37.5 mil
  • Conan the Barbarian (Lionsgate; Aug. 19) Budget: $90 mil | Box office: $48.8 mil
  • Fright Night (Disney/DreamWorks; Aug. 19) Budget: $30 mil | Box office: $36.9 mil
  • Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (FilmDistrict; Aug. 26) Budget: $25 mil | Box office: $26.2 mil
  • Our Idiot Brother (Weinstein; Aug. 26) Budget: $5 mil | Box office: $24.6 mil
  • Apollo 18 (Weinstein; Sept. 2) Budget: $5 mil | Box office: $23.6 mil
  • Shark Night 3D (Relativity; Sept. 2) Budget: $25 mil | Box office: $24.6 mil
  • Warrior (Lionsgate; Sept. 9) Budget: $25 mil | Box office: $15.7 mil
  • Straw Dogs (Screen Gems; Sept. 16) Budget: $25 mil | Box office: $10.1  mil
  • I Don't Know How She Does It (Weinstein; Sept. 16) Budget: $24 mil | Box office: $9.2  mil
  • Abduction (Lionsgate; Sept. 23) Budget: $35 mil | Box office: $38.2  mil
  • Killer Elite (Open Road; Sept. 23) Budget: $50 mil | Box office: $17.5  mil
  • Dream House (Universal; Sept. 30) Budget: $50 mil | Box office: $8.1 mil
  • What's Your Number? (Fox; Sept. 30) Budget: $20 mil | Box office: $5.4 mil
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