Why do horror movies kill at the box office all year round


New York
CNN Business

one of Paramount The biggest blockbuster of the year is a surprising success that hasn’t slowed down at the box office since it opened at number one a few weeks ago. No, I’m not talking about him “Top Gun: Maverick.” I’m talking about “The Smile”, the scary studio horror hit.

The film, which stars Susie Bacon as a psychiatrist tormented by visions of terrifying smiles, opened to $22.6 million at the domestic box office in late September. That total isn’t great on paper, but it was enough to take first place in its opening weekend and surpass the film’s modest $17 million production budget.

Then “Smile” did something Hollywood wasn’t expecting: It made roughly the same amount in its second weekend, with ticket sales dropping only 18% to $18.5 million. This is unheard of from a stop for a big movie. For example, “Thor: Love and Thunder” stock fell nearly 70% in the second weekend of July.

“Smile” has continued to find an audience, grossing nearly $200 million worldwide over the past month.

“When we first saw it, you could see how the audience reacted to it. They were totally scared. Mark Weinstock, Paramount’s head of worldwide marketing and distribution, told CNN Business.” We knew this was a movie that people wanted to try. in theaters.”

“Smile” also had a strong marketing campaign to go along with strong word of mouth. The trailer cleverly showcased sinister snippets of the movie rather than abandoning the whole thing. Paramount also promoted the film by The presence of actors smiling in the background of televised events.

“We had people smiling eerily at a morning show, a bunch of baseball games, and it took off better than we hoped,” Weinstock said. “Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ve gone viral on social media.”

And “Smile” isn’t alone in breaking industry trends at the box office.

Several horror films this year have done the same, showing – apart from superhero movies – that horror is Hollywood’s most reliable genre at the box office.

The film industry is still recovering from the pandemic. Audiences have been choppy and the North American box office gross is down nearly 34% from pre-Covid 2019 levels. In short, it’s a scary time for Hollywood.

However, horror still seems immune to the live-streaming revolution. “Smile,” Universal’s “Black Phone,” and 20th Century Studios’ “Barbarian” are all examples of low-budget horror films that draw viewers from the couch to theaters.

Even “Terrifier 2”, a charming movie about a killer clown who has It reportedly caused vomiting and fainting for viewers in theaters, is to find an audience. The movie that came with I reported a budget of only $250,000It made more than $7.6 million worldwide – more than 30 times its production cost.

“No longer marginalized, the horror genre makes audiences gravitate toward the goosebumps and excitement that only movie theater, with its societal and immersive experience, can provide,” Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore

(Degree)
for CNN Business.

Horror not only has wide appeal – and is usually produced cheap – the genre is also unique at this moment in Hollywood because the experience is distinctly different for viewers watching at home or in theaters. Studios benefit from a high rate of return and theaters can keep audiences away from Netflix

(NFLX)
.

Where else can you be with hundreds of strangers in a room who have exactly the same experience? Weinstock said. “You’re not distracted, you just sit there and have no idea what’s going to happen next. I think that’s something you can only experience in theatre.”

Dergarabedian added that “the systematic increase in quality over the years did no harm either.”

“The old paradigm of sub-par horror fests, aiming to kill it on Friday and mega-dropping on Saturday are often a thing of the past as the genre’s new creative guardians focus more on strong overall experience scenes,” he said. “The box office results were both scary and impressive.”

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