Horror Films Rise To The Top In A Summer Of Flops
This has been a summer of flops. As the quarterly results come in this summer’s box office ticket sales have been the lowest since 2005.As movie studios bet on the big game, that is, spend a lot of money on movies that are sure money makers and hopefully hit a home-run to get to that $1 billion threshold; however, this tent pole season, has been a strike out with huge flops like BFG, Ghostbusters, Ben Hur, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Though, one genre that hasn’t flopped has been horror.
This year, entries like The Witch, Lights Out, and Don’t Breathe, and The Purge: Election Year, the low budget horror has found an audience when the summer blockbusters have come up bust. What is the secret?
Horror tends to be the genre that is loved by younger audiences, and seems to filter out as they get older, and as of now, Millennials are being left out in the dark. Some may remember the cartoon series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it was rarely the favorite, as other cartoons like Pokémon, were taking over their viewership. And, if you look at the movies that flopped there is nothing that caters to theses younger viewers. No one in their later teens – early twenties, that I have talked to was excited about Ben Hur, or Alice through the looking glass ( especially since the original was a far departure from the book, expanding the character of the Mad Hatter to something ridiculous). And so as of now the film that has made the most money is The Secret Life of Pets.
Will the studios take notice and start to green-light more of these low cost horror films: most likely, no. Low budget horror film, with the scream queens, gore and monsters are frankly, to most studios, not sexy. They aren’t the big budget spectacles that multi billion dollar franchises are built on.
Also, how people are consuming films is changing. As more people begin to watch streaming services, it costs more and more to get people in the seats of a theater and making big budget sequels and comic book movies is the strategy that’s worked. While there are costly losses, there are more benefits for cranking out these movies and that means original stories are going to be relegated to those streaming services and independent outlets.
So horror is one of the few types of film where original stories are being told and the thrills can be felt. These are the stories that, for a small amount of money, they can easily make back and profit from; But the overall profits are smaller and wide appeal for the genre that is missing. Hope is high though, and as horror movies prove they have legs, more studios will back these scary treats.