Baby Bear Helps Scare Up No. 1 Hit for McCreary

Bear McCready

Sonic adventurer Bear McCreary (pictured with a hurdy-gurdy) in a frame from Score: A Fllm Music Documentary. (Photo: Epicleff Meda)

It’s a happy weekend for Bear McCreary who scored the No. 1 film, Universal’s chiller Happy Death Day. The millennial murder mystery outperformed expectations, slicing off an impressive $26.5 million in its box office debut.  As a veteran of seven seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead, McCreary is no stranger to horror.

Then again, he’s no stranger to any genre, with a diverse repertoire that includes the Starz time-travel romance Outlander and feature films such as IFC’s recent J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye and the upcoming sci-fi thriller Tao from Dr. Strange director Federico D’Alessandro.

“When I first saw Happy Death Day, I was immediately struck by the film’s perfect balance of horror and dark comedy,” McCreary said of the project, which plays like a Groundhog Day with murder, and was produced for only $5 million. “The main character, Tree, hilariously captures a millennial spirit the horror is genuinely terrifying, and the comedy pitch perfect. The film is a goldmine for musical inspiration,” he added.

Additional inspiration was provided by McCreary’s three-year old daughter, who helped sound-out the central antagonist, whose identity is hidden behind a baby-face mask.  “[Director] Christopher Landon and I decided to give this voiceless character a voice in the score,” McCreary explained.

McCreary collected recordings of his daughter that he used throughout. “These sounds of her giggling and whispers were digitally mangled and distorted, until they became terrifying vocal textures, with menacing bass, crackling breathy overtones. One baby whimper in particular became the theme for the killer, wailing like a banshee over the score. I combined the baby voice with a full orchestra, and the end result truly terrified me. I am hopeful it will have the same effect on the audience.”

In less than a month, McCreary will have another go at the No. 1 slot with Revolt, which opens Nov. 17. The cataclysmic tale of an alien invasion that takes place against the backdrop  of a war-ravaged African countryside, challenged the composer in new ways. When he first saw the robotic drones stampede towards the film’s star Lee Pace “I knew the score needed to be mechanical, pulsing and sonically distinct from anything I’d ever done,” McCreary said.

The only other debutante to make it into the top five was the The Foreigner, with music by Cliff Martinez (2011’s Contagion and The Lincoln Lawyer, and more recently last year’s War Dogs and The Neon Demon). The STX release stars Jackie Chan, playing against type as a former Vietnam War special forces operative who winds up running a Chinese restaurant in London. Co-starring Pierce Brosnan and directed by two-time James Bond-helmer Martin Campbell, it cooked up $12.84 million (although its September opening in China has translated to more than $100 million at the global box office to date.

The second weekend of October saw several other notable newcomers, said ComScore senior box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, citing the awards season contender Marshall, which rallied $3.039 on 821 screens for Open Road Films. Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and is based on a true incident when he was a young lawyer and is directed by Reginald Hudlin wtih a score by two-time Emmy-winning jazz man Marcus Miller.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women studied up $737,000 on 1,229 locations, which translates to about $600 per theater, leaving Anapurna Pictures to wonder what happened to its audience. The R-rated drama that tells the true story of  what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston to create the iconic Wonder Woman character in the 1940s with a score by Tom Howe. Howe is a protege of Harry Gregson-Williams and contributed additional music to scores for Wonder Woman and The Legend of Tarzan

Whereas Fox Searchlight’s Goodbye Christopher Robin, with a score by Carter Burwell, had a per theater average of $6,200 in nine locations for a total of $56,000. The film tells the story of children’s author A. A. Milne  and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired Winnie the Pooh.

Bleecker Street opened Breathe in four theaters and earned $26,254 for a per theater avg. of $6,563. The U.K.-based composer and producer Nitin Sawhney provided the score for this tale of a polio victim’s inspiring fight to help others similarly afflicted.

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