- Secretariat box office: Directed by Randall Wallace, and starring Oscar nominees Diane Lane and John Malkovich, the Walt Disney Studios’ “inspirational” racehorse drama has failed to match the popularity of the similarly themed (and titled) Seabiscuit.
- In other domestic box office news, Universal Pictures’ Wes Craven-directed horror thriller My Soul to Take is a total dud.
Secretariat box office: Diane Lane racehorse drama not to become another (however moderate) hit like Seabiscuit
Oct. 8–10 weekend box office (cont.): This past Columbus Day weekend, the Walt Disney Studios’ real-life-based racehorse drama Secretariat trailed David Fincher’s Facebook drama The Social Network ($15.5 million on its second weekend out) and the Katherine Heigl-Josh Duhamel romantic comedy Life as We Know It ($14.5 million) at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office.
Directed by Randall Wallace, and starring Oscar nominees Diane Lane (Unfaithful, 2002) and John Malkovich (Places in the Heart, 1984; In the Line of Fire, 1993), Secretariat opened with a mediocre $12.7 million from 3,072 locations as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. Budget: $35 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).
For comparison’s sake: Budgeted at $87 million, another real-life-based racehorse drama, Universal’s eventual Best Picture Academy Award nominee Seabiscuit, debuted with $20.9 million (about $27 million today) in late July 2003. Directed by Gary Ross and starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges, Seabiscuit went on to earn $120.3 million (about $157 million today) in the U.S. and Canada – in other words, it was a moderate hit (though a disappointment in relation to its cost) – in addition to $28.1 million (in all likelihood incomplete) elsewhere.
Secretariat also not to become 2010’s The Blind Side
Some had been heralding Secretariat – an “inspirational” female-centered story – as this year’s The Blind Side (2009’s second-biggest sleeper hit) and Diane Lane as this year’s Sandra Bullock (named 2009’s top box office attraction in the United States).
However, barring a miracle of Hollywood proportions, Secretariat has absolutely no chance of becoming a $200 million hit. In fact, this Disney release will have trouble recovering its relatively modest production budget in the domestic market.
Of course, Diane Lane may indeed land her second Oscar nomination. But that won’t make her a top box office draw.
Also in the Secretariat cast: Dylan Walsh, Kevin Connolly, Drew Roy, Graham McTavish, Scott Glenn, Dylan Baker, James Cromwell, Margo Martindale, and AJ Michalka.
Far behind Seabiscuit
Update: Randall Wallace’s Secretariat ultimately collected an underwhelming $59.7 million domestically. International figures at Box Office Mojo are obviously incomplete: $608,000.
As a general rule of thumb, Secretariat needed to gross at least $105–$110 million globally to break even at the box office. (See notes.)
Wes Craven horror thriller My Soul to Take bombs domestically
Trailing Zack Snyder’s computer-animated fantasy adventure Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole ($6.9 million; down 37 percent), Universal’s Wes Craven-directed 3D horror thriller My Soul to Take debuted at no. 5 with a meager $6.9 million from 2,572 venues. According to the Los Angeles Times, 86 percent of ticket sales came from 3D screenings.
For comparison’s sake: Without the assistance of 3D surcharges, Craven’s previous solo directorial effort, the thriller Red Eye, brought in $16.2 million on opening weekend in August 2005. Red Eye went on to collect $57.9 million domestically; My Soul to Take will be lucky if it earns half that amount. Red Eye budget: $26 million; My Soul to Take: $25 million.
Also worth noting, My Soul to Take is this fall’s third domestic box office disappointment in the horror genre, following the Renée Zellweger star vehicle Case 39 and Matt Reeves’ Let the Right One In remake, Let Me In, both released last weekend.
My Soul to Take features Max Thieriot, John Magaro, Nick Lashaway, Emily Meade, Frank Grillo, Shareeka Epps, Denzel Whitaker, and Harris Yulin.
Update: Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take ultimately collected $14.7 million domestically and $6.8 million (incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: $21.5 million.
Among the international markets listed at Box Office Mojo, Russia/CIS was no. 1 with $4.1 million. Next in line was Greece with $382,000.
As a general rule of thumb, My Soul to Take needed to gross at least $75–80 million globally to break even at the box office. (See notes.)
“Secretariat Box Office: Lane Racehorse Drama No The Blind Side” notes
Update: My Soul to Take director Wes Craven fared far better with the April 2011 release Scream 4. But “better” wasn’t nearly good enough.
Unless otherwise noted, “Secretariat Box Office: Lane Racehorse Drama No The Blind Side” 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, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Secretariat, My Soul to Take, 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.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Diane Lane Secretariat movie image: John Bramley | Walt Disney Studios.
Max Thieriot My Soul to Take movie image: Universal Pictures.
“Secretariat Box Office: Lane Racehorse Drama No The Blind Side” last updated in October 2023.