‘Scream’ looks to draw in young horror fans and jumpstart 2022 box office

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  • The latest installment of the “Scream” franchise has a chance to demolish “Spider-Man: No Way Home”‘s dominance at the domestic weekend box office.
  • The film is estimated to generate between $35 million and $40 million in ticket sales over its opening weekend, which includes the extended holiday on Monday.
  • “Scream” has some challenges. Not only is it facing a potentially smaller film-watching audience because of the pandemic, but it’s been more than a decade since the franchise’s last theatrical release.

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The latest installment in the “Scream” franchise opens this weekend for a movie theater industry threatening a rapid rise in coronavirus cases fueled by the more transmissible Omicron version.

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The December release “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was able to defy Covid concerns to become the highest-grossing film during the pandemic, grossing over $1 billion and counting. But the opening weekend of “Scream” presented a chance to break Spider-Man’s hold on the top spot at the box office, which it held for four weeks.

“Scream” has some challenges. Not only is it facing a potentially smaller movie-watching audience, but it’s been more than a decade since the franchise’s last theatrical release.

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“Consumers are becoming increasingly selective, which they believe justifies the dramatic journey,” said Rich Greenfield, general partner at Lightshade Ventures.

It is the fifth installment since the original opened in theaters 26 years ago. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette reprized their roles in the franchise, and brought along newcomers Melissa Barrera (“In the Heights”), Jenna Ortega (“You”) and Jack Quaid (“The Boys”). Cox described the film as a “brand new launch” of the Slasher franchise. An Interview on “The Drew Barrymore Show” in May.

According to comScore, the film is estimated to have between $25 million and $30 million in ticket sales over the opening weekend. This figure also includes Monday’s holiday. With its legacy factor, the film has the advantage of being in a genre that appeals to younger audiences, who are more inclined to visit a movie theater amid the pandemic.

During the health crisis, horror films like “Candyman,” “A Quiet Place: Part II,” and “Halloween: Kills” grossed more than $20 million in their opening weekend, according to comScore.

“The horror genre was one of the saviors of movie theaters during the pandemic,” said Paul Dergarbedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

a survey from gallup found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were watching movies in theaters at more than twice the rate compared to other demographics. There have always been more active moviegoers in this age group, but this gap has widened during the pandemic.

“You have a more mature audience that is still living in the house to a greater extent and you have a style that has youthful appeal,” Dergarbadian said. “Then you have younger audiences who want to go to movie theaters. And the pandemic has really increased that disparity.”

Younger audiences continue to dominate horror film attendance, making it a safe bet for studios to release in theaters during the pandemic. "Halloween Kills," the sequel to Blumhouse Productions' Halloween revamp, opened in October 2021 for about $50 million. According to data from the comScore/Screen Engine API, thirty-five percent of its audience was made up of 18- to 24-year-olds, making it the largest demographic group for the film.

"There are certain types of films targeting different age groups and demographics that are definitely showing up," said Greenfield of Lightshade Ventures. "So, if you're going into the younger teen, young adult demographic, like 'Spider-Man' or 'Scream,' this weekend, you're going to do relatively well."

Studios also benefit from making horror films in a low budget. These movies usually come with small price tags and do not have to earn much to make a profit at the box office. Last year, "Candyman" had an estimated production budget of $25 million and generated over $27 million in sales during its first weekend. According to Diversity"Scream" had an estimated product budget of $24 million.

"You don't have to break the bank to make a solid and spooky horror film," Dergarbadian said. "Accountant's dream, bean counter's dream horror movie."

Paramount Pictures' release of "Scream" this weekend may be able to allay audience hesitation with the Omicron version. However, the original Scream feature didn't have the same built-in audience as its opening weekend.

an opening bust

The Scream horror franchise has spanned more than two decades and includes five theatrical releases and one television series on MTV.

The original "Scream" film was directed by horror-pioneer Wes Craven and released on a disappointing opening weekend in 1996. It debuted just before Christmas and grossed about $6 million at the domestic box office. This was not what the initial studio executives were expecting and declared the film almost a failure.

Cox said, "I remember being like, 'Oh, this sucks so much, it won't work. It's great.' An interview with The Ringer Last month.

However, it proved to be leg. By word of mouth, moviegoers came to know that the film offered a whole new genre of horror. Film watchers were well aware of past slasher tropes, giving them a fresh take on the genre.

Over the next few weeks, "Scream" grossed over $100 million at the domestic box office—eventually 16 times its initial earnings—and received critical acclaim.

"It's rare that you see a 16-fold multiplier," Dergarabedian said. "It's a direct reflection of the potential for long-term play, great discussion and cultural impact."

After that moment, the franchise expanded and a sequel was released less than a year later. However, the momentum won't last forever.

When "Scream 4" was released in April 2011, moviegoers didn't show up at the same rate. The film grossed $18.6 million at the domestic box office, the second lowest opening weekend for the franchise, after the weak release of the original film. Dergarabedian attributed its poor performance to the decade that ended between the third and fourth installments.

Reboots are trending this time around. With the success of "Halloween," which came out 40 years after its original installment, "Scream" hopes to attract a similar audience.

"For younger audiences, something like 'Scream,' what a great way to see that there's a blast in the theater, and to escape your everyday hassles and then be scared of you in the movie theater with other people." It is," said Dargarabedian.

-CNBC Nate Ratner

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