‘Scream’ hopes to attract young horror fans and boost box office in 2022

Frame from “Scream”.

Paramount Pictures

The latest installment in the Scream franchise opens this weekend to a movie industry threatened by a rapid rise in coronavirus cases caused by a more contagious variant of omicron.

The December release of Spider-Man: No Way Home was able to challenge Covid fears and become the highest-grossing film during the pandemic, earning over $1 billion and growing. But the debut of Scream offers a chance to break Spider-Man’s grip on the #1 weekend box office he held for four weeks.

The Scream does have some issues. Not only does it face a potentially smaller cinema audience, but it’s been more than a decade since the franchise’s last theatrical release.

“Consumers are increasingly picky about what they think justifies this theatrical visit,” said Rich Greenfield, general partner of LightShed Ventures.

This is the fifth installment since the original hit theaters 26 years ago. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette are returning to their roles in the franchise and bringing in newcomers Melissa Barrera (In the Heights), Jenna Ortega (You) and Jack Quaid (The Boys). Cox called the film a “brand new launch” for the slasher film franchise. interview on The Drew Barrymore Show in May.

Comscore predicted opening weekend ticket sales for the film to be between $25 million and $30 million. This figure includes a day off on Monday. Along with the heritage factor, the film has the advantage of being in a genre that appeals to younger audiences who are more willing to go to the cinema in the midst of a pandemic.

During the health crisis, horror films like The Candyman, A Quiet Place: Part 2, and Halloween: The Murders grossed more than $20 million in their opening weekend, according to Comscore.

“The horror genre has been one of the saviors of cinemas during the pandemic,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

A Poll from Gallup found that Americans aged 18 to 29 watched movies in theaters more than twice as often as other demographics. This age group has always had more active moviegoers, but the gap has widened during the pandemic.

“You have a more mature audience that is still more at home, and you have a genre that appeals to young people,” Dergarabedyan said. “Then you have younger audiences who want to go to the cinema. And the pandemic has really exacerbated those inequalities.”

Younger audiences continue to dominate horror film attendance, so studios can safely release movies in theaters during the pandemic. Halloween Kills, the sequel to Blumhouse Productions’ remastered Halloween version, opened in October 2021 for almost $50 million. According to the Comscore/Screen Engine API, 35% of its audience is aged 18 to 24, making it the largest demographic for a film.

“There are certain types of films that target different age groups and demographics that are definitely successful,” said Greenfield of LightShed Ventures. “So, if you’re going to be targeting the younger teen, young adult demographic like Spider-Man or like Scream this weekend, you’ll be doing relatively well.”

Studios also benefit from making horror films on a smaller budget. These films usually have lower price tags and don’t need to earn that much to make a profit at the box office. Last year, Candyman’s production budget was estimated at $25 million, with first weekend sales of over $27 million. In accordance with DiversityThe budget for the film “Scream” was estimated at $24 million.

“You don’t need to rob a bank to make a compelling and scary horror movie,” Dergarabedian said. “The accountant’s dream, the bean counter’s dream is a horror movie.”

Paramount Pictures’ release of Scream this weekend may overcome audience doubts about the omicron option. However, the original feature film Scream did not have such a built-in audience in its opening weekend.

bust opening

Over the next few weeks, Scream earned over $100 million at the box office, eventually grossing 16 times its opening gross and receiving critical praise.

“It’s rare to see a 16x increase,” Dergarabedyan said. “It’s a direct reflection of long-term playability, big buzz and cultural impact.”

After that, the franchise expanded, and a sequel was released less than a year later. However, the momentum will not last forever.

When Scream 4 was released in April 2011, moviegoers didn’t come at the same rate. The film opened with $18.6 million at the domestic box office, the second-lowest in the franchise’s opening weekend behind the original’s lackluster release. Dergabedyan attributed the poor results to the decade that had passed between the third and fourth installments.

This time, reboots are a growing trend. Thanks to the success of Halloween, which came out 40 years after the first part, Scream hopes to attract the same audience.

“For younger viewers, something like Scream to see what a blast it is in theater and what a great way to escape from everyday problems and then scare the hell out of yourself in a movie theater with other people,” Dergarabedian said.

– CNBC Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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