Stories of vomiting, patient patrons, and ambulance visits at the theater have definitely helped. But the box office success of “Terrifier 2” — the bloody horror sequel from director Damien Leone that managed to pull in $10 million on a quarter-million dollar budget — is a perfect storm of viral marketing savvy and renewed interest in juvenile cinema. Now, distributors of leading cinemas are trying to chase “Terrifier 2.”
Beyond “Terrifier 2” — which just finished in the domestic top 10 at the box office in its fifth weekend — last Saturday’s livestream of the 2022 League of Legends World Championship generated $405,000 from more than 400 locations. A recent live stream of two Coldplay concerts in Buenos Aires grossed over $1 million, and it just missed the top 10 concerts for the weekend.
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Fathom’s ongoing performances for MET Opera and Studio Ghibli Fest continue to perform, in some cases better than pre-pandemic levels. And Fathom recently announced that it has licensed “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” another slasher horror film that draws on the public domain to create a violent take on classic AA Milne characters, in the hopes that it will also get some love at the box office.
“I think there’s more openness by the consumer to see these kinds of movies that they can’t get anywhere but theatre,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told IndieWire. He said exhibitors and distributors are more willing to take a swing at juvenile cinema if it leads to a high reward, and landing in the top 10 can do wonders for a small show.
They call it lightning in a bottle for a reason. It will be very difficult to replicate the success, but the industry will definitely try,” Dergarabedian said.
In the case of “Terrifier 2,” all this organic buzz didn’t happen by accident. Iconic Releasing, which distributes “Terrifier 2,” has organized a handful of screenings with influencers and members of Regal Unlimited to drum up excitement ahead of the event’s theatrical release on Oct. 6. It also chose not to pursue an MPA rating to inform fans that the film will not be censored from Leone’s Vision. “Terrifier 2” grossed over $400,000 on its opening night and changed everything.
“The gold is in our hands. We need to mine it,” Devon Canfield, vice president of sales and distribution for Iconic Releasing, told IndieWire. Iconic and Cinedigm Entertainment Group quickly worked to convince theaters of the “Terrifier 2” pivot of a two-night event release.
This weekend, Iconic will stage screenings for the UFC 281 event, but it’s a more challenging environment with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Canfield said some exhibitors are holding back on the number of theaters they show or opting out of it altogether.
However, he said more theater owners see a steady program of event cinemas that can build an audience that engages with the big screen as a destination for events that would otherwise not be available. Not to mention that it is an opportunity to use the live streaming technology that many theaters have already invested in.
“The showrunners are starting to look a little more outgoing, but they can still be a little nervous,” Canfield said. “You’re trying to help change their minds to get them to see potential.”
Courtesy of Fathom Events
“Terrifier 2” provides a good case study. Even five weeks after its release, “Terrifier 2” is still playing like a traditional juvenile movie release, available for only one to two shows per night, maybe three, and drawing large crowds to every show. Beyond this feat, he’s done the nearly impossible and made more Funds in its second week and on fewer screens, it opens to $800,000 and is up 28 percent the following weekend.
“It’s a bright spot in the exhibition world right now, the fact that in event cinema, there’s a compelling reason to go,” said Richard Abramowitz, CEO of independent distributor Abramorama. “There are too many good movies out there. They can’t all justify five shows a day, seven days a week, just because the audience depth is lacking. But we can fill 150-200 seats in almost any city in the country for one show.”
Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt hopes the same will be true for “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” which Nutt told IndieWire will open at an event next February on between 700-900 screens and that they “quite suspect” He is held for additional weeks. Nat says the acquisition of the film fits into Fathom’s larger horror strategy; In September, the distributor grossed US$4.3 million for the release of “Jeepers Creepers: Reborn”.
While Nutt said Fathom started talking to “Blood and Honey” producers ITN Studios before the viral success of “Terrifier 2,” Iconic Events was also about “Blood and Honey” — but Fathom quickly closed the deal.
There is still a place for live broadcasts of operas and concerts, but distributors see increased competition around original properties and the pursuit of the next viral hit. They can be horror films, music documentaries or religious films, the genre that has “got absolutely insane” for distributors and accounts for up to a quarter of Fathom’s revenue, Natt said.
“Having something that appeals to younger audiences, a lot of movie theaters don’t,” Abramowitz said. “You’re dealing with operas and high-end programmes, and that’s the audience that it’s been a little bit more difficult to get back into theaters right now. So having a horror movie at this particular time is the programming that attracts an audience that’s less resistant to going back to theaters. It’s really a matter of finding movies.” Committed, dedicated, and passionate about fans and their media.”
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