: Horror thrillers are doing killer box office business this summer.
It's a genre Hollywood loves. Because horrors films are not driven by big stars, high profile filmmakers, legendary comic books or best-selling novels, budgets are low--and the upside are huge. Moreover, horror hits can easily be turned into franchises with playability for years to come.
Horror series are typically very profitable because they have high awareness with moviegoers and don't cost much to make because producers aren't at the mercy of superstars demanding huge paychecks to return.
Horror is not the only thing working this summer, but it is clearly holding its own alongside costly superhero epics like
While there is nothing new on the horror front to tempt moviegoers this weekend, families will have a new 3D animated comedy--
Right now, the reigning horror hit is the R-rated The Conjuring
, which cost just $20 million to produce and opened July 19 to $41.9 million. It has grossed $83.9 million after only two weeks. Conjuring
held incredibly well last weekend, dropping only 47 percent rather than 55 percent or more the way many big budget epics slide in weekend two.
, starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, is from Saw
director James Wan. Like most horror hits, its strongest tracking was with under-25 females.
The movie is based on the true case files of The Warrens. When paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga) try to help a family terrorized by a dark presence, they're caught in their most terrifying case ever.
's $20 million budget is way less than the $200 million-plus price tags for many summer tentpoles, it's high compared to June's R-rated horror hit The Purge
, which cost an astonishingly low $3 million to produce, opened June 7 to $34.1 million and after eight weeks has grossed $64.3 million.
Produced by Jason Blum and directed by James DeMonaco, Purge
stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and Max Burkholder.
The movie takes place in an America of the future, where the government controls crime by allowing one night a year when all criminal activity including murder is legal and the public regulates itself with no thought of punishment. When an intruder enters the locked down community where James Sandin (Hawke) lives, the events that follow threaten to tear apart a family desperately trying to make it through the night.
also tracked best with under-25 females, the core audience for onscreen horror. That is something people who are not movie marketers usually find surprising. They expect horror films with their scares, blood, gore and slashers to appeal mostly to male moviegoers. However, it's young females who identify with the beautiful young females in peril in horror thrillers. Young women find it very satisfying that at the end of these movies, the endangered women onscreen are not victims. Somehow, they've manage to survive and prevail over the male villains trying to kill them. In the end, horror films are empowering for young women and that's become a formula that works for Hollywood.
Understandably, there are many more horror films working their way through the distribution pipeline. What's next? You're Next
, a fresh twist on home-invasion horror, opens Aug. 23. Directed by Adam Wingard, it is an R-rated slasher tale starring Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci and AJ Bowen.
In the film, a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family's reunion. The hapless victims appear to be trapped--until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all. It's too early for Next
to be on tracking reports, but its strongest appeal should be to under-25 females.
Horror thrillers will continue to scare up high grosses in the coming months. A few to watch for:
opening Aug. 30 is directed by Oliver Blackburn and stars Ashley Greene, Lucas Till and Haley Bennett. Originally titled Random
, the film is about a college coed who is alone on campus over Thanksgiving vacation when she's targeted by a group of outcasts she must outwit.
Insidious: Chapter 2
, opening Sept. 13, is directed by James Wan and stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Ty Simpkins. It's a PG-13 rated thriller about a haunted family trying to unearth a childhood secret linking them to the spirit world.
The original Insidious
, which cost just $1.5 million to produce, opened Apr. 1, 2011 to $13.3 million. It took in $54 million in domestic theatres.
, opening Oct. 18, is a new take on the 1976 horror classic directed by Brian de Palma and starring Sissy Spacek (as Carrie) and John Travolta. The original film grossed $33.8 million domestically, a hefty sum for a horror film in 1976.
The new Carrie
is directed by Kimberly Peirce and stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie, the teenager bullied by classmates who don't realize she possesses--and can unleash--a deadly telekinesis power.
Paranormal Activity 5
, opening Oct. 25, is the latest episode since the blockbuster franchise began in 2009. At this early point, no details about what to expect are known other than that it will definitely be very scary!
The first Paranormal Activity
cost an amazing $15,000 to make and ended up doing $107.9 million domestically. The series' first four very low-budget episodes have earned $350.6 million domestically.