Let's Go to The Videotape

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Unlike most horror films these days, The Ring comes with no hot teen stars (just Naomi Watts, if you happened to see Mulholland Drive), a relative lack of blood and gore and a not-very-scary PG-13 rating. It also comes with little hype. Prerelease "tracking" surveys, which gauge interest in a film, were "abysmal," says Walter Parkes, co-head of DreamWorks' film division. "Forget about interest in seeing the movie; there was absolutely no awareness that the movie existed." There is now. The film, directed by Gore Verbinski, was No. 1 at the box office its first weekend. Then — unheard of for a horror film — it actually took in more money its second week, for a total of $39 million.

The film, about a videotape that causes anyone who watches it to die exactly seven days later, is a remake of a Japanese box-office hit, Ringu, which spawned a sequel and a prequel as well as TV and comic-book spin-offs. Its cult popularity is spreading. A screening of Ringu (not available in U.S. video stores) at a horror-film festival in New York City last week drew a sold-out house, even in the middle of a weekday afternoon. For the rest of us, DreamWorks will release the Japanese film on dvd next year. And will there be a Ring sequel? "We are certainly going to try to develop one," says Parkes.