ABC News’ David Wright and Cole Kazdin report:
Nothing wraps up summer quite like your token monster movie, but “Creature,” which opened last week, not only failed to deliver, it flopped. Big time.
The film about a half-man, half-alligator from the deep who lets out horrible, guttural screeching sounds and picks off a group of young people one-by-one, had one of the worst box office openings ever. Of 1,507 screens for “Creature,” its total box office revenue was just $331,000.
“You’re looking at $220 per screen, per theater, that’s a terrible, terrible opening,” said Matt Atchity of RottenTomatoes.com. “That roughly comes to six people per theater and that’s being generous. Laws of averages, you’re seeing 10 to 20 go to one and you’re seeing empty theaters.”
Sid Sheinberg, the producer of “Creature,” is actually the godfather of blockbuster hits. During his 20 years at the helm of Universal Studios, he “discovered” Steven Spielberg, supervised “Jaws” and had a heavy hand in “Jurassic Park,” just to name a few.
“In fact, Sid is one of the guys responsible for the modern strategy for wide-releases,” Atchity said. “Until 1977, movies were released in a different strategy than we see now — what’s called ‘road shows,’ we’d see it in a few markets, and as buzz built up, they’d go nationwide.”
In “Creature’s” defense, this wasn’t the weekend they expected. A few months ago, no other big movie wanted to open on 9/11 weekend, and there was the NFL strike, so the field looked wide open. But then “Contagion” — a thriller about a deadly disease outbreak — moved up its release date and the NFL strike was resolved. “Creature” wasn’t alone — several films opened badly that weekend.
Buzz about “Creature” zipped around the Internet after its release , but for all the wrong reasons. As we wrapped up our interview with Sid Sheinberg’s son and partner Jonathan Sheinberg, who marketed and distributed the movie, Sid burst into the room to tell us that “Creature” had suddenly shot up on IMBD’s MOVIEmeter – a ranking system for the most and least popular movies.
People were talking about it because it was a dud, but Jonathan turned that into a positive.
“Now our awareness is higher than a lot of openings that are happening this weekend,” he said.
Unfortunately, the buzz is building right as theater owners are pulling the film for other options.
Watch the full story on “Nightline” tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET