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A Cure for Wellness Turns Out to be Box Office Poison

As predicted at the start of the over-stuffed winter horror film season, there were bound to be some box office casualties and if you are Twentieth Century Fox, you probably wish you sought a second opinion before green-lighting this one.

Out of the numerous horror films released this season, A Cure for Wellness is undoubtably the biggest disappointment, earning an estimated $4.2 million dollars in receipts at the film’s opening weekend box office.  Every other major horror release this year (Split, Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: the Final Chapter, Rings, and the Bye Bye Man) have earned more during their opening box office frames, even films with worse reviews and worse word-of-mouth.

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Split Three-peats at Superbowl Weekend Box Office, Rings Doesn’t Answer the Bell

Split posted a narrow victory over fellow horror film Rings at the 2017 Superbowl weekend box office showdown.

Split added an estimated $14.5 million dollars to its already far above expectations total.  Split will also reach the $100 million dollar domestic milestone early this week, as its cumulative total stands at roughly $98 million.  Split will certainly drop the box office title next week, as three high profile releases (Fifty Shades Darker, John Wick 2, and The Lego Batman Movie) will most likely bump the film into 4th place.  Irregardless, Split is undoubtedly the horror winner of the winter season, emerging from a very large crowd of contenders.  

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Split Repeats as Box Office Champ, Resident Evil’s Final Installment Underperforms

Defying all logic and shattering initial expectations, Split once again ruled the box office this weekend.  Going into the weekend, the modestly budgeted film ($10 million) had already earned $51 million dollars and added another estimated $26.3 million to its cumulative box office total over the January 27-29 frame for a grand total of $78 million.

Split appears to be the big winner this winter season, not only muscling out fellow horror films, but all new releases as well.  Bolstered by a young teen audience and undeterred by underperforming action films such as XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (a $33 million return on a $85 million dollar budget), Split looks to continue to grab more cash in weeks to come.   It will face more competition over the next few weeks with Rings (and a number of smaller releases such as Don’t Knock Twice) debutting next weekend At this point, it will depend if audiences remember (and want to see) a third film in the franchise after 12 years or if horror fans will respond to the film with apathy, similar to last fall’s Blair Witch remake.  Next week’s Superbowl is also a factor, as studios traditionally release films that appeal to women in the form of horror movies and romantic comedies.  Will ticket buyers who wish to escape Superbowl hype choose the reigning champ or yesterday’s creepy hit next weekend?  Stay tuned to Horror News Network to find out!   

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Shin Godzilla Finishes Second in Yearly Japanese Box Office

With the announcement of Godzilla 2’s director being named this week (Michael Dougherty),the upcoming release of Kong: Skull Island in early March, and an upcoming Rampage film in the works,  it is clear that people all over the world still get excited about giant monsters.

The homeland of the “King of Monsters” is no different as Shin Godzilla finished second in overall box office returns for 2016 in Japan.  Shin Godzilla (also known as Godzilla Resurgence) finished second only to Anime sensation Your Name in terms of ticket sales, ending with $75,398,709 at the Japanese box office.  It was also the highest grossing Godzilla film in the history of the character in Japan.

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Horror Movies Are Secretly Saving Hollywood’s Major Film Studios

What do four of the six highest grossing major film studios of 2016 have in common? They each released a horror film that made enough money to compensate for another big budget box office flop on their roster.

Hollywood accounting is “creative” to say the least, but the general rule of thumb is that a tentpole film needs to earn two times its estimated budget worldwide in order to outweigh production and marketing expenses and begin to make money.

According to Box Office Mojo, Sony’s The Magnificent Seven earned approximately $160.4 million on an estimated budget of $90 million. Ghostbusters (2016) earned approximately $229 million on an estimated budget of $144 million. 

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Split Finishes Number One at Weekend Box Office with $40 Million Dollar Take

According to Variety, Split, the psychological horror thriller by M. Night Shyamalan, finished first at the box office with $40.2 million in ticket sales, exceeding industry estimates by roughly $20 million dollars.

Shyamalan has become a director who can once again turn a profit for studios after a pair of disasterous big budget failures in the form of After Earth and Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Things got so bad for the formerly trendy director, that Shyamalan even took a break from directing to write a book about school reform entitled I Got Schooled, hoping to cash in on the state and federal money available to would-be “saviors” of education.

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The Bye Bye Man Finishes Fifth at Weekend Box Office, Underworld: Blood Wars Slips

The Bye Bye Man finished in fifth place at the box office for the weekend of January 13, 2017, taking in an estimated $13,378,000.  While the placement doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, it was in fact the highest grossing new film of the weekend, beating fellow newcomers Patriot’s Day, Monster Trucks, and Sleepless.  The film capitalized on a primarily female and under 25 audience to double its budget in the first three days of release.

While this is a solid opening for a horror film in January, the level of competition gets stiffer next week, and the rest of the month.  M. Night Shyamalan’s  horror thriller Split will be released next weekend with the same target audience in mind, greatly reducing The Bye Bye Man’s staying power at the box office.  Also contributing to a potential steep decline for the film is the fact that the film earned a “C” Cinema Score and  a 28% critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes.      

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Underworld 5: Blood Wars Finishes Fourth at Weekend Box Office

Kicking off a very busy January and February for horror fans, Underworld 5: Blood Wars finished 4th at the weekend box office with just over $13 million dollars.

The total is the lowest opening in the history of the franchise, but not an unexpected one with stiff competition from “Space Race” drama Hidden Figures which narrowly beat Star Wars: Rogue One to finish in first place with $22,800, 057 at theaters this weekend.  In comparison, the fourth installment in the Underworld franchise (2012’s Underworld Awakening) opened with a $25 million dollar take at the box office (and slightly better reviews-if you care about a 26% positive Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score vs a 20% score for the latest entry).

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Are January and February the New Dumping Ground for Horror Films?

In October, HNN noticed that horror films were strangely missing from the October schedule which usually capitalizes on the Halloween season and the audiences need for thrills and chills.  Initially, it appeared that the culprit was The Blair Witch, as studios hurried to move their films away from the expected blockbuster.  The result was more “trick than treat” however, as The Blair Witch was d.o.a. at the box office making a grand total of just under 21 million dollars.  

Looking at the release schedule for January and February, it appears that “the witch” may not be the only one to blame, as nine horror films will debut during the coldest and least profitable months of the year in 2017.  January and February are known to Hollywood executives as “dump months” which refers to the low expectations regarding the box office success of the films and the unwillingness of people to leave their homes during the winter months.  Films that are released in January and February are usually ones that did not perform well at test screenings, films without bankable stars, genre films, and films that are hard to categorize or defy traditional genre conventions.

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Too Much Horror Business: Box Office Winners and Losers of 2016

Although October 2016’s slate of horror films were at an all time low, this didn’t stop studios from making money at the your local cinema at other times of the year.  2016 was another profitable year for horror films, with the exception of a few high profile bombs. 

The undisputed horror box office champ was The Conjuring 2.  James Wan’s sequel to his 2013 film that showcased the further adventures of renowned ghost hunters, Ed and Loraine Warren, raked in $102.5 million domestically, and $320.2 million worldwide.  The largest foreign market happened to be Mexico, where the Conjuring 2 made $20.5 million.  Although the film was not the critical success of Wan’s first film, it appears like there is no stopping this franchise, whether Wan returns to the director’s chair or not.

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