"Total Recall" remake struggles to recall original's success
Los Angeles (Reuters) - The years haven't been kind to Douglas Hauser, the secret agent character played by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Colin Farrell in versions of the futuristic action film "Total Recall" released 22 years apart.
The release of the modern-day version of the film on August 3 by Sony Pictures Entertainment, scarcely outsold the 1990 version that featured Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, despite playing in 1,500 more theaters and at a time when ticket prices are higher.
The rebooted version, which stars Farrell as a dispirited worker who has lost his memory of being a secret agent, generated $26 million this weekend at the U.S. and Canadian box offices, according to Hollywod.com's box office division.
The 1990 version grossed $25.5 million in ticket sales and played on 2,060 screens. The new version is playing on 3,601 screens.
"Sometimes the perceived demand for re-boots of well known titles is overestimated," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division.
The tragedy surrounding Warner Brothers' "The Dark Knight Rises" may also have affected the box office take for "Total Recall," figures Dergaraberian, as some may have stayed away during its first two weeks in theaters for fear of a repeat of the shootings during a midnight showing of the new Batman film in Aurora, Colorado.
The Batman film nevertheless grossed $36.4 million in its third weekend to lead the weekend's box office race, with "Total Recall" second.
"Total Recall" was also released during a weekend of heavy viewing of the Olympic games on NBC.
Whatever the reasons, Sony Pictures Entertainment spent an estimated $138 million for the rebooted version of the movie, which also stars Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, according to the movie web site IMDB.
That's about half what it cost to make "The Dark Knight Rises" but also about half the $65 million it cost the now defunct Carolco Pictures to make the original "Total Recall," which was distributed by Sony. That film went on to gross $119.4 million.
Studios usually spend more than $100 million to market large budget films.
Sony would not comment about comparisons with the earlier version but stressed in a statement to reporters that the take for the new "Total Recall" was "in line with tracking and industry expectations."
"The film opened #1 in a select number of countries where Total Recall debuted this weekend, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand," Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said in the statement, adding that the movie would begin rolling out in larger countries in coming weeks.
"It's always been a world play, and it's tracking very well," in markets like western Europe, Latin America and Asia, said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution.
"I think we're going to be very pleased with the results," Bruer said.
(Additional reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
(This story corrects spelling of name to Biel in ninth paragraph)
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