Alexandre Aja’s creature feature Crawl latched onto third place at the box office this weekend with an estimated total of $12 million, becoming one of the many horror films this summer to snag a high spot on the countdown despite underwhelming returns.
Paramount’s Crawl entered a crowded swimming pool this weekend with Annabelle Comes Home and Midsommar (both continuing to make decent, but not great money at the box office), and further divided the amount spent on individual horror films. Many industry insiders predicted a bigger debut from Aja’s alligator rampage, but the top heavy summer box office of 2019 struck again, siphoning the majority of the funds into only two releases (Spider-Man: Far From Home and Toy Story 4). While super-hero stories and family-friendly films are not direct competition for horror films, it appears that they are limiting the amount spent on them, with parents and baby-sitters deciding to bring children to “sure things” rather than finding entertainment for themselves at the cineplex.
Crawl’s critical scores (like Child’s Play, Annabelle Comes Home, and Midsommar) were extremely high, currently clocking in at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (the highest score for a horror film this year, with the exception of Jordan Peele’s Us) and Crawl also received a better than usual B grade from ticket buyers who were polled by CinemaScore. Unfortunately for the producers of Crawl, these positive metrics and word-of-mouth were not enough to get people into the theater this weekend. On the positive side, if Crawl can capitalize on some of the goodwill it has generated, it does have the potential to add to its box office take, with no new horror competition over the next three weeks.
With the diminished returns for all but the most expensive summer tent pole pictures, Annabelle Comes Home may end the summer as the most successful horror film (in terms of box office). Annabelle made an estimated $5.5 million in its third week of release for a domestic total of over $60 million. While this is less than projected (and less than previous entries in the series), based on the performance of all films this summer, Annabelle Comes Homes’ box office has to be considered a major success (especially when foreign totals are taken into account, which should be north of $110 million after this weekend). The film should end its domestic run in the $72-75 million range, which should be enough to claim the top horror spot of the summer.
In terms of drop-off, Ari Aster’s Midsommar brought in half of what the display of pagan rituals earned last weekend, with a respectable $3.5 million. Unburdened by unreasonable financial expectations, Midsommar continued to attract viewers and brought them to the theater to find out what “all the kids are bragging about”. Aster’s film should continue to fill this counter-programming niche and remain as an alternative to a virtual indie free summer.
Check back next week to see how all the films fare with no new horror films on the horizon until Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark debuts on August 9.