If you’re curious what the box office numbers are for the horror movies released so far in 2015, the-numbers.com has you covered as they provide the box office grosses by genre on their site allowing that information to be easily found. So far, the top performing movies are franchise movies/sequels, and a few expertly marketed smaller films. Included below is the top 10 list as well as the 2015 U.S. gross for each movie.
- Insidious Chapter 3- $52,143,494
- Poltergeist- $47,415,690
- Unfriended- $32,482,090
- The Lazarus Effect- $25,801,570
- The Gallows- $22,252,051
- It Follows- $14,674,077
- The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death- $11,473,908
- The Vatican Tapes- $1,576,660
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night- $385,230
- The Babadook- $208,700
What story do the above numbers tell? That like all genres of movies recently, people are showing up for sequels and franchise movies (especially those with a PG-13 rating). We actually liked Insidious Chapter 3 (listen to our podcast review here), and the success of another entry in the franchise was to be expected as the first 2 movies were generally well liked and did good business. The Poltergeist remake (listen to our podcast review here) was lacking scares, personality, and really just a reason to exist. The movie did not live up to box office expectations based on its PG-13 rating and reported budget ($35 million), and failed to gross as much as the original 1982 film ($76,606,280). It is still the 2nd highest grossing horror movie released in 2015 despite its other failings. Unfriended was aimed at the social media crowd with all of the action taking place on a laptop screen and various apps, but was well reviewed and had effective advertising. The Lazarus Effect was poorly reviewed but had a relatively well known cast (Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, and Donald Glover) and made a decent return based on its low budget. The Gallows showed that there’s still a buck to be made with a poorly reviewed found footage horror film.
It Follows (listen to our podcast review here) was excellent and made enough to be considered a success when you take into account that it wasn’t originally planned to be released nationwide in theaters. It was originally going to be a limited release and video on demand film, so it’s a win that this was even widely available on theater screens at all. This movie was one of the few prestige horror films that actually made some money at the box office, and was talked about quite a bit in the media. It may have been a victim of its own success to some degree though, as glowing reviews created an amount of hype that led to some backlash in the horror community, but overall it has to be considered a financial success. The Babadook was also very well reviewed, but was only released on a small number of screens and reached most people via Netflix Watch Instant, or some other form of home video.
The takeaway here is that the franchises will continue to make money, PG-13 rated horror is likely here to stay, and low budget films aimed at the right demographic with effective marketing will continue to be made. The relative failure of Poltergeist may convince studios to shy away from larger budget horror films for a while, but most entries in the genre tend to have a low price tag anyway. Well reviewed films that aren’t made for a mainstream audience can still make an adequate return in theaters if the studio knows how to handle them, and video on demand services continue to reshape how films are seen. What will be truly interesting, is seeing how the Halloween and Friday the 13th series perform when they return to theaters in 2016.