How ‘Terrifier 2’, a mystery, small-budget horror movie, became this year’s most unlikely box office hit

Have you heard of the movie so stomach upset, so horrific, that it allegedly causes some audience members to vomit, faint and even need to get out of movie theaters?

This very question (the movie, by the way, is “Terrifier 2”) inspires horror fans and skeptics to go to local cinemas in droves to assess the hype for themselves. This small-budget and highly bloody slasher movie has conquered the relative obscurity to defy the odds and emerge as one of the season’s most unexpected box office successes. “Horror 2” – and no, you don’t. need to See the original movie first – it has reached the top ten in recent weeks on its way to generating $7.73 million in domestic ticket sales. It achieved those returns without a major movie star on screen and hardly any promotion.

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“This is where word of mouth becomes more important than any paid advertisement,” says Jeff Bock, an analyst at exhibitor relations. “When the target audience hears the word ‘vomit-o-rama’ – it’s worth the price of admission.”

Its breakthrough success is perhaps most shocking to its supporters Bloody Disgusting and Cinedigm, as well as Iconic Releasing, which distributes the film. Since “Terrifier 2” was not rated by the Motion Picture Association, distribution managers struggled to convince theater operators to free up the halls in the first place. With this challenge in mind, the film was initially intended to run for only three nights.

“It surprised us all,” says Devon Canfield, Vice President of Sales and Distribution at Iconic Releasing.

In its opening weekend, “Terrifier 2” brought in $825,000 from 886 theaters. From there, something unusual happened. For any movie released in theaters, ticket sales generally decline in subsequent weeks. Even mainstays like “Avatar” and “Top Gun: Maverick” have seen a decline after their debut on the big screen. But so far, “Terrifier 2,” which follows a horrific killer named Art the Clown, has managed to do the opposite, all while taking on major studio horror films like “Halloween Ends,” “Smile” and “Barbarian.”

“It caught fire in a way you don’t see in a movie that’s not from a big studio,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior comscore analyst.

Although the number of plays dropped to 700 in its sophomore outing, the film earned more than its previous weekend, returning $850,000 between Friday and Sunday. At that point, “Terrifier 2” grossed $2.29 million.

“We went down to 700 screens in [our second weekend]and we continued to increase our total business,” says Canfield. “It doesn’t happen when you lose sites.”

By then Buzz had started building and “Terrifier 2” had made $1.9 million in its third frame with expansion to 755 locations. And now in its fourth weekend on the big screen, ticket sales are continuing to rise (up 4%) with the film taking in $1.8 million from 1,550 screens, its biggest impact yet. With nearly $8 million in the bank, box office watchers expect ticket sales to reach $10 million on hand.

“A week-to-week increase is extremely rare,” says Dergarabedian. “It’s like discovering a Sasquatch.”

It doesn’t offer the same numbers as notable horror stories like “Halloween Ends” ($60 million), “Smile” ($92 million) or “Barbarian” ($40 million), but it doesn’t need to; Terrifier 2 was funded by $250,000.

What’s most remarkable about “Terrifier 2” landing at number eight over the weekend: It only plays in most theaters for one or two shows a day. By comparison, “Tár,” another feature film with a running time of nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes, is shown at least four times a day. The film, a potential award season nominee, came in at 11th while showing in 1,087 cinemas over the weekend.

“Almost every showtime comes close to capacity,” Canfield said. “Theatres had to convert them into bigger homes.”

Box office watchers point out that there are many factors working against “Terrifier 2” (it’s over two hours long, and there are plenty of other horror movies in theaters at the moment) as they work for it (scary movies in the box rarely miss. The office, and the market is more empty as the number of issues this fall is down 45.5% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Comscore).

But the triumphant ticket sales point to one fact: “Horror audiences are there more than ever,” Bock says. “It’s hot as hell.”

The sequel’s box office success is also impressive because the original “Terrifier” wasn’t originally theatrical when it came out in 2016, although it was shown briefly in a limited release in 2018. It only ran in 5 theaters and won About 2500 dollars.

“For this, we knew there was a strong online following and wanted to give it as many opportunities as possible to make a difference and reward fans,” Canfield says.

Written and directed by Damien Lyon, “Terrifier 2” features a demonic clown killer who brutalizes the citizens of a small town around Halloween. Critics were more kind to the sequel, saying that it improved on the original story of clown art. miscellaneous Owen Gilberman praised “grindhouse-style blood” and called the film “a slasher dream scene.”

Mostly set on Halloween night, he wrote, “Terrifier 2 is a bloated holiday horror movie that lasts 2 hours and 18 minutes.” However, this somewhat matches Art the Clown’s philosophy about chaos: More means more. “

Although the movie will be available online by October 31, “Terrifier 2” is still expected to be a hit at the box office in the coming weeks. First, it’s exclusively streaming on Screambox, a smaller genre-centric platform powered by Bloody Disgusting, so this factor isn’t expected to drop in ticket sales. In an age where superheroes and big-budget sequels reign supreme, Canfield believes there is a lesson in the unexpected box office success of “Terrifier 2.”

“For movie theaters, I say: embrace alternative content and don’t be afraid to take risks,” Canfield says.

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