Can the Horror Genre Save the Movie Business?


When newly-anointed Oscar Winner for Best Supporting Actress Jamie Lee Curtis took the stage at the 95th Annual Academy Awards last weekend, she graciously thanked her “genre” fans. Her role in the sci-fi actioner Everything Everywhere All At Once won Curtis the ultimate actor’s prize but horror has been her bread and butter ever since she burst onto the big screen in 1978’s Halloween. (And don’t forget her mother Janet Leigh’s iconic role in 1960’s Psycho; however, Hitchcock’s masterpiece nor Halloween were nominated for a Best Picture Award).

(Genre fan thank you at 1:56)

In fact, only six horror flicks have been on the ballot in all those years, and just two have won.

The Exorcist (1973) (The Sting won)

Jaws (1975) (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won)

The Silence of the Lambs (1992) WON

The Sixth Sense (1999) (American Beauty won)

Black Swan (2011) (The Artist won)

Get Out (2017) WON

Let’s face it: most of those movies are better described as thrillers. No slasher has ever been in the running, and neither have some of the GOATs, such as The Shining or the Alien franchise. (To name just a couple… don’t @ me.)

While our favorite genre doesn’t get much love from The Academy, box-office bucks prove that the teeming masses think differently. Especially now, when so many movie theater chains are shuttering or are in obvious peril.

Scream VI just set a franchise record with $19.3 million at Friday’s box office, and the year kicked off with M3gan, Universal Studios and Blumhouse collaboration, which ended up with more than $100 million globally, marking the latest success in a string of profitable theatrical runs for the genre.

“While Hollywood’s big-budget blockbusters typically get the most attention, the consistently strong performance of scary movies at movie theaters is good news for the cinema industry,” says CNN in a recent report. The news outlet noted that the overall health of theater chains, in general, is flagging due to the ease of watching at home thanks to an abundance of streaming platforms (not to mention the vast improvement of television sets and home sound systems). What’s more, “fewer theatrical releases have resulted in a smaller overall box office in the last year. The domestic box office reached $7.5 billion in 2022, better than $4.58 billion collected in 2021, but down around 34% compared to 2019.”

Here are the numbers, narrowed down to horror only:


1          Nope (Universal, Rated R) 2022 Gross $123,277,080          

2          Smile (Paramount, R) $105,935,048   

3          The Black Phone (Universal, R) $90,123,230          

4          Scream (Paramount, R) $81,641,405

5          Halloween Ends (Universal, R) $64,079,860

Disney and Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which features horror elements, was not included in the Top 5 tally but the film earned $411 million during its run in the U.S. and Canada and generated nearly $1 billion worldwide.

2023 (to date, March 14)

1          M3GAN (Universal, Rated PG-13) Gross to date $95,017,390         

2          Scream VI (Paramount Pictures, R) $44,447,270      

3          Infinity Pool (Neon, NC-17) $5,078,401        

4          Fear (Hidden Empire, R) $2,138,235 

5          Skinamarink (IFC Midnight, Not Rated) $2,049,890

“We’re in the middle of horror’s new golden age,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at told CNN in their recent overview of the film industry. “It’s a genre that has ebbed and flowed in past decades but one that’s always evolved, maintained commercial appeal, and helped introduce new filmmakers to the world.”

Here are some upcoming horror movies that are expected to do well at the box office:

Renfield (based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula) (April 14)

The Pope’s Exorcist (April 14)

Evil Dead Rise (April 21)

Stephen King’s The Boogeyman (June 2)

Insidious: Fear the Dark (July 7)

Disney’s Haunted Mansion (July 28)

The Last Voyage of the Demeter (based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula) (August 11)

The Nun II (September 8)

The Exorcist (remake) (October 13)

Saw X (October 27)

While it’s unclear whether horror films being released on the big screen will make a dent in the overall audience disillusionment of the theatergoing experience, our favorite genre is valiantly taking a stab at it.

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Staci Layne Wilson

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