‘Grinch,’ ‘Girl in the Spider’s Web’ and the Do’s and Don’ts of Box Office Revivals

There are few things Hollywood loves more than a good revival. A familiar brand with a built-in fan base? Sold!

Even so, bringing back a recognizable property comes with risks. That’s a lesson illustrated last weekend at the box office. It was a tale of two reboots. Illumination and Universal’s “The Grinch,” the third adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss Christmas tale, opened with a massive $66 million, but “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” Sony’s sorta sequel to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” faltered with an anemic $8 million.

Of course, it wasn’t exactly a battle of equals. One movie centers on a beloved character with a 60-year history, written by one of the most iconic and prolific children’s book authors. That kind of pedigree creates a prime opportunity for a studio hoping to cash in on a little nostalgia among families (especially around the holidays). The other flick is based on a series of Swedish crime novels that are roughly a decade removed from their literary phenomenon days. Moreover, although Lisbeth Salander hacked her way into readers’ hearts, her on-screen adventures never resonated as strongly on the big screen. The studio behind “Spider’s Web” is hesitant to call it a reboot, though the followup to David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” features all new actors, replacing its lead Rooney Mara with Claire Foy. It’s definitely not your traditional sequel. Fincher’s film was admired for its moody visuals and for Mara’s Oscar-nominated performance, but its $232.6 million global haul was a disappointment given its nearly $100 million budget. To its credit, this latest Salander adventure cost less. It has a $43 million budget.

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