Monday, April 30, 2007

Horrorthon will be alive and well for years to come

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Want to see something really terrifying in Hollywood? Look at the number of horror flicks invading the multiplex.

This year, no fewer than 39 fright films have been scheduled for the big screen, according to the tracking firm Media by Numbers. From 2004-06, the average was 20.

And given that the typical horror and suspense thrillers have at least a two-week life span in the top 10, it means fierce competition every weekend this year to spook crowds.
"I thought this was the year of the sequel," says Paul Dergarabedian of Media by Numbers. "But it's more the year of the horror film."

This weekend, three of the top four films —Disturbia, The Invisible and Fracture — were in the suspense or horror vein.

"I can't ever recall that happening," says Chris LeRoy, a senior vice president at Disney, which released Invisible.

Says Marvin Levy of DreamWorks, which released Disturbia with Paramount: "You used to see these come out maybe close to Halloween. But now it's every weekend. Eventually, some movies are going to get caught in the crush."

Some already have. Hannibal Rising underperformed at $27 million. Hilary Swank's The Reaping did a disappointing $23 million. Jim Carrey couldn't lift suspense thriller The Number 23 past $35 million.

The highest-profile casualty may be Grindhouse, the grisly homage to the exploitation films of the 1970s from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The $67 million Weinstein Co. film was considered a lock for No. 1 and at least a $25 million debut. Since its release April 6, it has taken in $23.9 million.

"You have to think all the horror films hurt Grindhouse," says Bert Livingston, a distribution exec for 20th Century Fox. "It might have gotten lumped in with the others."

It's no wonder the industry is going horror-happy. In most cases, a fright flick costs less than $30 million and easily makes that back in theater and home video revenue. According to Nielsen VideoScan, sales of horror films rose nearly 10% last year. But with so many similar films, the chances for a breakout shrink.

"There's definitely a glut," says Rory Bruer, distribution chief for Sony Pictures, which distributed Vacancy, a disappointment. "At some point, people will be more discriminating before they go," he says. "Or make them."

1 comment:

Octopunk said...

Daaaaamn. That could be one person's whole Horrorthon output. Although I don't know if all the ones they're counting would be ones we'd count.

For one thing, I'm not watching damn Disturbia. And neither are any of you.

Lest you endure my vicious taunting.