The gothic horror movie Winchester was released last Friday and finished the weekend third at the US Box Office with $9,307,626 in total ticket receipts. According to Box Office Mojo the opening night audience was 58% female and 64% were over the age of 25. It was considered to be a successful opening weekend.
Here’s the thing, though. Most people who’ve seen the movie didn’t “really like” it. Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 12% Rotten rating. Metacritic has given it a score of 28%. Despite these poor reviews from critics, people went to see the movie anyway and audiences didn’t like it either. The average IMDB rating for the movie is 5.3. Only 36.3% of IMDB voters gave it a “really like” rating of seven or higher. So, word of mouth is bad and the critic reviews people are reading are almost universally bad and still they keep showing up at the theater. On Monday, Winchester still finished third at the box office.
And, it’s not just Winchester. In my objective data base, which now includes the top 150 box office movies each year from the years 1992 to 2001, there is evidence that most horror movies are bad. From 1992 to 2001, horror movies have an average IMDB rating of 5.8 and are 40% Fresh (or Rotten) on Rotten Tomatoes. All other movies for the same time frame have an average IMDB rating of 6.3 and are 53% Fresh (less Rotten). Generally speaking, as a genre, horror movies are below average in quality.
And yet, Hollywood still keeps rolling out horror movies year after year. Why? These movies are reliable money makers. During the 10 years of my study, horror movie business performance compares very favorably to other movies.
|Avg Domestic Gross per Movie||Avg Production Budget per Movie||Net After Budget per Movie|
|Horror Movies||$ 44,973,410||$ 39,938,864||$ 5,034,547|
|All Movies||$ 38,935,822||$ 46,294,593||$ (7,358,771)|
While the industry as a whole doesn’t turn a profit until they take in video sales and licensing fees after movies end their box office run, horror movies turn a profit, on average, before the movies end their box office run. The average horror movie brings in more box office revenue with lower production costs than the typical movie in other genres. They are the perfect movies for those months that make up the non-blockbuster, non-awards seasons. They represent a low risk, moderate reward option for these down months of the box office year. There is something irrational about the audience draw for these horrible movies. There is something about the genre that encourages audiences to overlook the below average quality of the movies. They know it’s bad and they don’t care.
If you’re like me, quality matters and it takes a quality horror movie like Get Out to be a “really like” movie. With the information that is available to us today, there is no excuse for shelling out hard earned cash at the Cineplex for horrible movies like Winchester. Hold out for quality. A reliable profit stream for bad movies encourages them to keep making bad movies. We need more Get Out‘s and a lot fewer Winchester‘s. Tell them that horrible just doesn’t cut it, even for horror.