'Evil Dead' remake shows surprising life at box office

05:00 AM, Apr 07, 2013

The 'Evil Dead' remake was No. 1 at the box office. Courtesy of TriStar Pictures/

Written By by Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

Maybe he should go by Sam the Great and Powerful.

After directing the first hit of 2013 with the Wizard of Oz prequel Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi saw the remake of his cult horror hit return to dominate the box office this weekend.

Evil Dead, a graphic, low-budget remake of Raimi’s 1981 classic, topped theaters with $26 million, according to studio estimates from box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

The film marked the surprise of the weekend, collecting $2 million above expectations and earning surprisingly strong reviews for a genre not known for critical laurels.

Rottentomatoes.com says 65% of critics gave it a thumbs-up. Moviegoers were higher on the haunted cabin story: 78% said they liked it, according to the amalgam site.

Despite the $12 million budget, the film played more like a fall film over the weekend, analysts say.

This is a little more than January’s horror hits,” which included critically panned films like Texas Chainsaw 3D or Mama, says Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets.com.

He says the “film’s pedigree” made some of the difference in beating the competition.

The cartoon The Croods tied for second with $21.1 million, continuing its strong run and lifting its overall gross to $125.8 million. G.I. Joe: Retaliation also took in $21.1 million.

The re-release of Jurassic Park took the top end of projections with $18.2 million and fourth place, followed by the political thriller Olympus Has Fallen with $10 million.

Final figures are expected Monday.

Ticket sales remain anemic, thanks largely to a dismal February. Revenue is down 11% compared with the same period in 2012, and attendance is down 12%, Hollywood.com says.