Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

July 23, 2013

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Kim Hollis: The Conjuring, a $20 million-budgeted horror film from Warner Bros./New Line, earned $41.9 million this weekend, making it the 15th biggest opener of the year and easily blowing tracking estimates out of the water. How was the studio able to turn this into such a hit?

Matthew Huntley: There are a few factors for why I believe The Conjuring succeeded (and over-performed) this weekend: 1) It's a genre picture, particularly a horror movie, and horror movies tend to be more front-loaded than others (for some reason, they seem to carry more urgency than and fans like to rush out and see them opening weekend); 2) The reviews are very strong; in fact, at 85% positive, they are some of the best of the year; 3) The reviews are very strong...for a horror movie! This genre tends to get beaten up by critics, but apparently The Conjuring merits praise instead of abuse, and I can't help but think this caught people's eyes, especially those who don't typically give the genre a chance, thus adding to the audience numbers and intrigue; 4) The cast has a good reputation. I'm a fan of Vera Farmiga, who tends to choose interesting, thoughtful projects; and many may remember Patrick Wilson from Insidious, another horror movie that beat expectations on a small budget.

Essentially, everything was working in this movie's favor, including the weak competition, and the numbers are evidence to that.


Jay Barney: It would not have been surprising for The Conjuring to have won the weekend, but it is shocking for it to have done so well. An opening north of $40 million, on a weekend where there was so much competition at the box office, is pretty amazing. I think a lot of it had to do with the marketing and trailer, which did attract some buzz.

While this opening is larger than The Purge, I’d still say the Purge will be the more successful movie. The opening for that one was $36 million, while the budget was a scant $3 million. The Conjuring is a breakout success, though, giving us our second major horror flick to impress this summer. If I recall last year, the only major horror film even attempted during the summer was Chernobyl Diaries and that did not do so well. What The Purge and the Conjuring have accomplished is very impressive.

Felix Quinonez: I think there will always be an audience for horror movies, people just like to be scared. And when you add the fact that The Conjuring had some genuinely scary trailers and great reviews, things lined up just right for this to break out. I will say that I am surprised, not with the fact that it did well, but with the fact that it put up such high numbers. But I think that could be do to the fact that the last few weeks have been dominated by family movies, maybe audiences were ready for some R-rated scares.

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