The Non-Sensationalist Take on Hatchet II’s Theatrical Run

Odds are since you’re reading this, presumably on the internet and not on our weekly printed newsletter distributed at your local Whole Foods, you’ve heard that Hatchet II is, for the most part, no longer playing in theaters. I don’t want to use the word “pulled” because that just sounds so violent – this is a kid’s site, for fucks sake.

So you’re cruising around the internet and probably reading a lot of people’s opinions on why the film was removed from AMC screens. On one hand, the film didn’t make a lot of money. On the other, the film was unrated and some are suggesting the MPAA leaned on AMC to force their hand in removing the film from theaters. I’m sure there are a few other theories out there, at least one of them involving lizard people. Not one content to just blame the lizard people at every turn, I decided to put on my journalist hat (it’s a fedora) and actually talk to someone at AMC. That man is John Campea who has been a presence for years with AMC’s movie blogging and had a hand in helping Hatchet II find its way into theaters.

Before we delve into this, I’d like to put a few things out there. I loved Hatchet II. I like Adam Green as a director (I’ve enjoyed all four of his films) and as a person – he gave a great interview just a few days ago. I’m actually going to see Hatchet II again in under three hours as I write this. Paying for it. With money. Even though I already saw it for free. Other Rejects, notably Brian Salisbury, also enjoyed the film. In fact, a lot of the online world liked the film. It sucks that more people aren’t going to be able to see it in theaters. The question is why.

The answer, apparently, is that no one went to see it to begin with. Campea informed me via telephone that AMC publicized the film as much as they could and placed it on 70 screens. To support the first midnight screening at the popular AMC City Walk location, there was a Q&A, photo session, and cast in attendance, all publicized to get people into the screening room at midnight. When the projector rolled, the ticket count read 32.

Campea listed the total box office receipts for Hatchet II around $52,000 for the weekend, averaging under $800 per theater, which translates to approximately 10 or 11 people in each screening. By showing a movie, a theater usually has to pay for the print (cost) and they definitely can’t show something else, like The Social Network, on that screen. So a film has to generate income to offset those costs and then go into profit. Unfortunately Hatchet II didn’t come close to off-setting those costs, so the screenings ended there.

Again, if you’re on the internet, you’re probably seeing a few people raising the question “Well then why is the abysmal Chain Letter still in theaters, it made even less per screen?” There is a simple answer for that. Hatchet II was an exclusive limited release to AMC. They’re the only ones showing it. Whatever deal they have worked out is theirs. Now, Chain Letter is not an exclusive release. It’s a wide, studio backed release and that particular movie has a one week guarantee built into its screening contract. That means to be able to show the film even once, the theaters must agree to show the film X number of times for 7 days. It literally can not be pulled from screens without breaking the screening guarantee. Hatchet II had no such agreement in place. So that answers that question with a big, definitive period.

Campea also took the time to address the rumor floating around that some theaters pulled the film early, as early as Friday. I’m not going to type out a big paragraph about this, though his word is that in asking around, he can find no theater that pulled the film on Friday.

Before writing this piece, the ex-Dr. Abaius and I had one simple question: is this news? We’re still not sure, but my fingers were itchy and I’ve got sandpaper on the keyboard, so I wrote it anyways. This situation is clearly a touch convoluted, but here are my thoughts on the matter.

  1. AMC deserves credit for giving the film a shot in the first place. This was the biggest unrated horror release in the past 25 years.
  2. Adam Green deserves credit for making a fun, slasher film.

The MPAA can suck some dicknards anyways, even though they had, most likely, absolutely nothing to do with the film being pulled. Why? Because as Adam Green himself said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, this was a silly horror movie that shouldn’t have been rated NC-17. There are maybe one or two things that would be objectionable under an R-Rating, but the tone of the film is totally 80s slasher humor with tongue firmly planted in cheek. This wasn’t going to rock anyone’s world to the core in terms of violence or brutality. It won’t ruin your day. So, yeah, the MPAA still kind of sucks in my own, personal opinion.

Fans and critics alike should learn that you’ve got to put up or shut up. Movies are a business. If no one sees them, they leave theaters. Did you go see Hatchet II? Did you pay for it? You can’t really complain about a film not doing well if you’re not willing to slap down your eight bucks. Personally, if I like a movie, or want to support it, I see it twice. Once is the press screening, second is a paid screening. Hell, I’ve seen movies I didn’t like a second time just to make sure I didn’t like it. As fans, we have to support the genre.

So who gets the blame for this? I mean, really, I don’t see anyone to blame except for those who didn’t go see the movie when we had the chance. For everyone else, it’s just a business decision.

That being said, Los Angeles residents can still see Hatchet II on the big screen via the Mann’s chain of movie theaters. Also, if you can prove to me via email or Twitter (@RejectRobert) that you saw Hatchet II in theaters, I will randomly select a winner and provide them with some sort of horror related prizing. I’m still figuring out what it will be, but it will probably be sweet and I might throw in some movie passes too. But you’ve got to go see the movie while you still can.

What do you think?

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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