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Priest Box Office: Paul Bettany Thriller Misfires

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Priest movie Paul BettanyPriest movie with Paul Bettany: Critically excoriated 3D horror thriller is a domestic box office underperformer.
  • Priest box office: Scott Charles Stewart’s critically derided $60 million-budget 3D horror thriller Priest has flopped with both critics and audiences. Paul Bettany and Karl Urban star.
  • Also this past weekend, Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Midnight in Paris opened with strong numbers at the French box office. Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard star.

Priest box office: Starring Paul Bettany, Screen Gems’ critically panned 3D horror thriller has flopped in the domestic market

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

May 13–15 weekend box office (cont.): At a modest no. 4 on the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart – trailing Thor, Bridesmaids, and Fast Five (more details further below) – Screen Gems/Sony Pictures’ critically lambasted 3D horror thriller Priest debuted at the higher end of (pretty modest) expectations, grossing $15 million from 2,864 locations as per final studio figures found at

Directed by Scott Charles Stewart, and starring Paul Bettany and Karl Urban, Priest has to date taken in an estimated $40.1 million worldwide. Budget: A reported $60 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

For comparison’s sake: Directed by The Spierig Brothers and starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill, Lionsgate’s dystopian vampire thriller Daybreakers opened domestically with $15.1 million from 2,523 venues in January 2010, ending its run with a so-so $30.1 million, in addition to an even weaker $21.3 million (likely incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: $51.4 million. Budget: A modest $20 million.

Priest movie cast

Besides Paul Bettany as the vampire-fighting title character and Karl Urban as the human leader of a group of blood-suckers, Priest also features Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Stephen Moyer, and veteran Oscar nominees Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975) and Christopher Plummer (The Last Station, 2009).

Cory Goodman adapted Hyung Min-Woo’s graphic novels set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Global underperformer

Update: Scott Charles Stewart’s Priest ultimately collected an estimated $29.1 million domestically and $49.2 million (likely incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: $78.3 million.

That figure was far from enough for the dystopian vampire thriller to break even at the box office.

Its top international markets were Russia/CIS ($10.4 million), Spain ($4.3 million), Germany ($2.4 million), France ($2.2 million), and Mexico ($2 million).

Top Five movies: Action, comedy and music

The other Top Five movies on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart were:

  • As mentioned in the preceding May 13–15 weekend box office article (see link in the first paragraph), Kenneth Branagh’s superhero actioner Thor topped the chart with $34.7 million (down 47 percent on it second weekend). Domestic cume: $119.5 million. Worldwide (estimated): $317.7 million. Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston.
  • At no. 2, Paul Feig’s raunchy women-centered comedy Bridesmaids opened with $26.2 million. Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, and Rose Byrne. Bridesmaids’ unexpected commercial success is extensively discussed in the preceding May 13–15 weekend box office article.
  • At no. 3, Justin Lin’s actioner Fast Five grossed $24 million (down 37 percent on its third weekend). Domestic cume: $169.7 million. Worldwide (estimated): $440.5 million, thus surpassing Rio (see immediately below) as the year’s biggest global hit to date. Cast: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson.
  • At no. 5, Carlos Saldanha’s computer-animated musical comedy Rio grossed $8.3 million (down a minuscule 3 percent on its fifth weekend). Domestic cume: $125.2 million. Voice cast: Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway.
Midnight in Paris Owen Wilson Carla BruniMidnight in Paris with Owen Wilson and Carla Bruni, the Italian-born wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy: Considering its setting, it’s no surprise that Woody Allen’s romantic comedy has turned out to be a box office hit in France.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris is no. 2 in France

More May 13–15 weekend titles:

Written and directed by Dan Rush and starring Will Ferrell, the dramatic comedy Everything Must Go earned the actor good reviews but disappointing box office figures: $791,700 from 218 venues, for a weak $3,631 average. Also in the cast: Rebecca Hall and Michael Peña.

Spencer Susser’s dark dramedy Hesher debuted with only $126,000 from 42 venues, averaging an even worse $3,001. In the cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, Thor’s Natalie Portman (who also co-produced the film), and three-time Oscar-nominated veteran Piper Laurie (The Hustler, 1961; etc.).

More impressively, this past weekend Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Midnight in Paris trailed only Fast Five in France, collecting $4 million as per The Hollywood Reporter. In the cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Carla Bruni, Michael Sheen, and Oscar winners Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, 2007), Kathy Bates (Misery, 1990), and Adrien Brody (The Pianist, 2002).

Sony Pictures Classics will be releasing Midnight in Paris next weekend in the United States.

Only one ‘straight’ drama among Top 25 on domestic chart

Lastly, it bears mentioning that nearly half of 2011 has gone by and so far the year’s only drama – outside the action/thriller/horror genres – to be found on the domestic Top 25 chart is Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants. Cume: $48.6 million after adding $4.2 million on its fourth weekend out.

Mostly set in a circus during the Great Depression and revolving around a romantic triangle, Water for Elephants stars Twilight Saga actor Robert Pattinson, Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, 2005) and Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, 2009), and the elephant Tai.

Priest Box Office: Paul Bettany Thriller Misfires” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Priest Box Office: Paul Bettany Thriller Misfires” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Priest and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Paul Bettany Priest movie image: Screen Gems | Sony Pictures Releasing.

Owen Wilson and Carla Bruni Midnight in Paris movie image: Sony Pictures Classics.

Priest Box Office: Paul Bettany Thriller Misfires” last updated in October 2023.

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1 comment

Bettybmusing -

This such great news for WFE and Tai. Tai is now a international star and loved by many. Great events can bring about great changes :-)


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