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After ‘Halloween,’ more horror movies could capitalize on nostalgia

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  • The new “Halloween” movie made $77.5 million over the
    weekend, a franchise best and the second-biggest horror movie
    opening of all time.
  • Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock noted
    that nostalgia could have been a big factor in the movie’s
    success, as it brings back original “Halloween” star Jamie Lee
    Curtis and director John Carpenter, who produced and scored the
    new film.
  • It signals a trend that has worked for Hollywood before,
    and could be applied to future horror movies.

 

The new “Halloween” movie murdered the box office this
weekend with $77.5 million, the
biggest opening weekend for a horror movie of the year, the
second-biggest opening for a horror movie of all time, and the
biggest opening in the “Halloween” franchise.

It was also close to the recent October opening weekend
record holder, “Venom,” which made $80 million earlier this
month.

Needless to say, “Halloween,” from film studio Blumhouse,
is a hit with audiences. It continues a trend for the horror
genre the last two years, which has seen hit after hit, with “Get
Out,” “It,” “A Quiet Place,” and most recently “The Nun.” But in
regards to “Halloween,” there may have been bigger forces at play
than just the horror factor.

Exhibitor Relations senior box-office analyst Jeff Bock
told Business Insider that the “nostalgia factor” helped
“Halloween” make big money, and it could signal a Hollywood
trend.

“Nostalgia — doing right by franchises and their fanbase —
right now is the key to a successful reboot,” Bock said.
“‘Predator’ and ‘Ghostbusters’ didn’t do it, and look where
they’re at … MIA. ‘Halloween’s’ debut has proven without a
shadow of a doubt that the nostalgia factor is a massive
component in successfully rebooting a franchise in the current
marketplace.”

Bock told Business Insider in September, before the release
of “The Predator,” that the movie would disappoint financially
because it missed an opportunity to include the original movie’s
star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declined an appearance because
the role was too small. Lowballing Schwarzenegger did
prove to be a mistake
, as the movie failed to generate
box-office success. 

“Halloween,” meanwhile, brought back familiar franchise
star Jamie Lee Curtis and acted as a direct sequel to John
Carpenter’s 1978 original (Carpenter even returned to produce and
score the film). With “The Nun” a box-office smash just a month
ago, audiences weren’t lacking in horror. But the familiarity of
the “Halloween” name with an original star and creator attached
helped attract moviegoers.

Nostalgia has helped franchise films win big at the box office
before, and two of the biggest movies of the last few years
capitalized on that. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” brought back
original stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher and featured a
similar plot to the original movie, not unlike “Halloween.”
“Jurassic World” completed the promise of Steven Spielberg’s
“Jurassic Park” by being set at a fully functioning dinosaur
theme park.

Disney has also found success in remaking its classic animated
films into live-action blockbusters. “Alice in Wonderland,” “The
Jungle Book,” and “Beauty and the Beast” all made over or close
to $1 billion worldwide. Nostalgia certainly played a factor
there, as adults who grew up with those movies could enjoy them
just as well as a new generation could. “Aladdin” and “The
Lion King” are expected to arrive in theaters next year. 

The next potential blockbuster that will rely on this strategy is
next year’s “Terminator” movie from “Deadpool” director Tim
Miller. Not only is Schwarzenegger returning, but original star Linda Hamilton
is
, as well. 

But the horror genre has rarely used nostalgia to its advantage
like other genres have. It’s something that the last two
movies in the “Halloween” franchise, Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot and
its 2009 sequel (along with many of the horror remakes of the
2000s) failed to do. The new “Halloween” has already grossed more
worldwide than either of those movies did. 

Ridley Scott has attempted to revive his “Alien” franchise in
recent years with prequels like “Prometheus” and “Alien:
Covenant,” but those movies underperformed in the US. “District
9” director Neill Blomkamp was at one point
attached to direct an “Alien” movie
that would have taken
place after “Aliens” and ignored later, disappointing sequels,
which is very similar to what the new “Halloween” movie did. That
movie was ultimately canceled, but what if original franchise
star Sigourney Weaver returned? What would audience enthusiasm
look like now if that movie was still on track?

The next “Conjuring” movie, an “Annabelle” sequel, is bringing
back “The Conjuring” stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, which
may produce a higher box-office take. With the success of
“Halloween,” it wouldn’t be surprising to see future horror
movies try to tap into the nostalgia of their respective
franchises.

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