This weekend Dark Shadows came in second at the box office, making only $28.8 million. That could have something to do with a little movie called The Avengers smashing records once again, taking in $103.2 million in its second weekend. However, Dark Shadows was still expected to earn $35 million to $40 million in its opening. So, what went wrong?
Though Johnny Depp and Tim Burton usually make a winning combination, the film suffered from mediocre reviews, earning only a B- CinemaScore. Depp has scored big in the past by taking risks with oddball characters like Willy Wonka and Jack Sparrow, but it seems unlikely that kids will be dressing up as Barnabas Collins next Halloween.
Another factor is that the comedy/horror genre has always been a hard sell. A look back at the highest-grossing vampire movies in recent years shows that if Warner Bros. wanted to ensure Dark Shadows would be a hit, it should have demanded on more scenes involving lovelorn, sexy teen vampires. Of course, the Twilight franchise has produced the most profitable vampire flicks of all-time. New Moon tops the list with a domestic gross of $296,623,634, followed by Breaking Dawn, Part I ($281,275,991) and Twilight ($191,465,414).
Van Helsing was the most popular of the traditional horror-themed vampire films, earning $120,073,130 domestic gross. (Though, since the film stars heartthrob Hugh Jackman, one could make the argument that sexiness was a factor.) The films rounding out the list of the 15 most popular vampire films mainly fall into the horror genre:
Underworld Awakening 3-D ($62,321,039)
Blade: Trinity ($52,397,389)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans ($45,802,315)
30 Days of Night ($39,568,996)
The exceptions are the Twilight parody Vampires Suck, which earned slightly more than Daybreakers with $36,661,504, and Fright Night, which came in last with $18,298,649. The latter film, which starred Colin Farrell, is actually the most similar to Dark Shadows. Rather than declaring Dark Shadows a disappointment, perhaps we should say performed amazingly well — for a comedy/horror remake that stars an A-lister who doesn’t usually do scary movies.