Insidious Scores Over Friday the 13th Weekend
By John Hamann
September 15, 2013
It’s one of those weekends where Hollywood and movie theaters have one person to thank for huge movie business. This weekend it’s Jason Voorhees, the masked slasher who turned any Friday the 13th into a horror holiday.
This weekend, the benefactor of the horror holiday is Insidious Chapter 2, the FilmDistrict follow up to the 2011 micro budgeted original. The original Insidious was not about a huge opening weekend, as it opened in early April 2011 to $13.3 million. It was not the #1 film of the weekend, or even #2; it debuted in third behind Hop and Source Code, but had a solid venue average of $5,511 as it was released to only 2,408 screens. Most horror films would have died quickly after an opening like that, but Insidious was different – it earned better than usual reviews (66% fresh) and took a B Cinemascore, which is like winning an Oscar for a horror flick. The weekend holds that followed for the original are usually reserved for Oscar hopefuls, as it had weekend-to-weekend drops of 29%, 28% and 23% following its opening frame. In the end, a film that cost only $1.5 million ended up grossing $54 million stateside, and another $43 million overseas.
A few years later and it’s time for an Insidious encore. This time, despite being a risky point in the schedule to release a movie (September), horror honcho Jason Blum (The Purge) positioned Insidious Chapter 2 over the Friday the 13th weekend, hoping to see the magic generated by the 2009 version of Friday the 13th, which took in $40.6 million over its Valentine’s Day opening weekend. The strategy of releasing a horror film on a Friday the 13th is not bulletproof, as Cabin In the Woods opened on April 13, 2012, and earned only $14.7 million (but did go on to earn cult status). This time around, though, releasing this sequel on Friday the 13th worked nicely, as after an okay $1.5 million from Thursday late shows, Chapter 2 exploded on Friday.
On Friday the 13th, audiences came out to Insidious Chapter 2 en masse. The film earned a reported $20.1 million, but once the Thursday shows are removed, the number comes down to $18.6 million. In terms of opening days, the all-in number is bigger than Friday the 13th was in 2009, as that opening day was $19.3 million. This opening day was also bigger than The Great Gatsby ($19.4 million), Men In Black II ($19.8 million) and The Bourne Supremacy ($18.4 million). It is the biggest opening day ever for a movie opening in September, and the gross was four times that of the reported production budget ($5 million). The power of a smart release date is certainly on display here; as for the producers, everything that comes after that first Friday is gravy.
The dark side of a Friday the 13th opening is the internal weekend multiplier, which is calculated by dividing that Friday take into the weekend gross, which we haven’t gotten to yet. That 2009 version of Friday the 13th did have a huge debut, but it earned almost half of its weekend gross on opening night, whereas a typical film earns a third. Friday the 13th had a 2.1 internal multiplier, and the front-loading was so immense it skewed the weekend.