How horror became Hollywood’s safe bet in a scary box office climate
With the exception of Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” the studio system has been hit hard by the lack of a strong, new franchise. The “Indiana Jones” and “Harry Potter” series are both critically reviled — particularly the latter — while “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” hasn’t scored any big hits since its release last year.
The industry is now struggling to get back on its feet.
The way Hollywood works means that the best-known producers will churn out sequels and movies long after the original hit the big screen. Because of this, Hollywood has become a little like the Wild West, only without all the civilization and law. It used to be a safe bet for the studios to turn on the faucet and make a hit at the box office every time.
But with more than a half-dozen big-budget projects (including three sequels) on the go, the industry doesn’t have a lot of new material to push forward in its quest for box office success.
Enter the horror genre, whose popularity has grown in recent years. After all, horror is one of the few genres that’s not constrained by the usual box office laws and restrictions of most mainstream films. In fact, horror is a genre that is largely independent of the box office.
“The box office is completely different than the box office,” says Eric Davis, founder of the studio-rejection advocacy group Rejected Films. “We want a horror film that opens, the box office opens, and then the movie doesn’t come back again.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean horror movies have no audience. The horror film “The Babadook” debuted to $37 million at the domestic box office and $68 million internationally. It’s not known if the box office momentum is a result of the buzz the film has been generating, or because of the fact that “The Babadook” was a very inexpensive film that got released on DVD and was the only horror film