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By Nir Nave

The hope for horror films

On 07, Jun 2010 | In Uncategorized | By Nir Nave

The hope for horror films

Hollywood’s new “it” girl is a creepy vintage doll cheap jerseys named Annabelle whose eyes drip with the blood of her victims and she’s bringing hope for the revival of horror films.

“Annabelle” blew up box office expectations with $37 million in its debut last weekend, rivaling the opening of “Gone Girl” starring Ben Affleck. It’s one of the biggest openings of a horror film ever and the first of that category to draw such a crowd in years.

But what gets Hollywood most excited about its early success is the money that can be made off “Annabelle” and its copycats, which are cheap to produce and have huge profit margins compared with more costly action, comedy or drama hits.

“Annabelle” cost less than $7 million to make, compared with the $60 million spent on “Gone Girl.” That means the opening three days of “Annabelle” generated a 400 percent profit margin, while “Gone Girl” was still in the red. The most profitable film in history is the 2009 horror movie “Paranormal Activity,” which was made on a budget of $15,000 and reaped $193 million in global ticket sales.

The past few years have been tough for the horror genre, as studios have struggled to find another breakout hit that can generate lucrative sequels (“Paranormal” had four). No horror film out this year made more than $20 million in its opening weekend. ticket sales were only $20 million.

But like any good zombie, horror keeps coming back. “But it takes one movie that hits the right way, and where grosses are high, to get everyone in the movie business feeling good about the genre again.”

“Annabelle,” a New Line Cinema prequel to the 2013 movie “The Conjuring,” may have hit that chord with its return to traditional spook and gore. It received lackluster reviews from critics, doesn’t boast A list stars and will probably be overlooked by awards panels.

But Warner Bros. is already planning a sequel to “Annabelle” along with a sequel to “The Conjuring.”

“It’s not a franchise yet; we’ve only made one ‘Annabelle,’ but based on its response we are looking toward making another,” Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of theatrical distribution, said in an interview.

He said the movie did particularly well with Hispanics, who the studio targeted heavily with radio promotions and bottles of “Annabelle” branded holy water. The demographic tends to respond to horror’s religious references, including exorcisms, Fellman said. border town theaters showed the biggest ticket sales.

Cheap but lucrative offerings like “Annabelle” can help the studios fund more expensive, award winning productions. That’s important in an increasingly risk averse industry that likes to bet on huge franchises like Disney’s “Frozen” and 20th Century Fox’s “X Men” series. To ensure a movie will do well in global ticket sales, produce sequels and sell t shirts and theme park rides, studios are focused on what they call “tent poles” that can support a whole mini economy.

“All ego goes out the door when you greenlight a movie like ‘Annabelle,’ ‘ said Jeff Bock, a senior box office analyst at research firm Exhibitor Relations. “Even if it failed at the box office, it would probably still make a little money. Sure it’s not a film from director Steven Spielberg, but that would cost at least $60 million to make. So that’s the balance that every studio has to watch.”

To understand the huge margins, look no further than the work of film producer Jason Blum, whose films include “Paranormal Activity,” “The Purge,” “Insidious” and “Sinister.” In total, his films cost $40 million to make and have reaped $1.2 billion in ticket sales.

“Annabelle” is a low budget throwback in more ways than one, relying on decidedly old school techniques to frighten moviegoers into buying tickets.

Produced by the prolific horror director James Wan and directed by John Leonetti, the prequel is set in the late 1960s and tells the story of the doll Annabelle that is referenced in “The Conjuring.” The movies are both based on the story of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

“Annabelle” begins with John Form giving his wife Mia the gift of a rare, vintage doll. The wholesole blonde Mia is charmed by its pigtails and satin white dress, and puts it in the couple’s baby nursery. Annabelle, of course, unleashes unexplained terror and murder, tormenting the couple and everyone around them.

The movie relies on traditional devices to spook audiences the creaking door, suspenseful music, demonic possession. And maybe none of it is more time tested than the murderous doll itself, which was milked extensively by the knife wielding Chucky in the 1990s “Child’s Play” movies.

In that sense, “Annabelle” is similar to other releases coming this Halloween that revive old story lines and familiar monsters. Universal’s “Dracula Untold” will be released this weekend. “Ouija,” based on the haunted board game, is scheduled for Oct. 24 along with Lionsgate’s “Exists,” a horror based on the legend of Bigfoot.

Such movies are a break from recent trends. Extreme gore dominated in the mid to late 2000s with hits such as the “Saw” series. More recently, hits such as “Paranormal Activity” revived the shaky “found footage” style pioneered by “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999.

“People are getting back to more traditional horror with the creepy house with creaking floorboards,” Contrino said. “And people more moving away from the modern take on horror where people are working with cameras and phones as the focus.”

And they are bringing in important audiences particularly women, Hispanics and Millennials who have otherwise turned more to online entertainment. Horror also does well overseas, where studios make the majority of their revenues. Bloody slashings and haunted houses spook a moviegoer equally in Buenos Aires as in Beijing.

New Line Cinema’s success with “Annabelle” comes to the rescue as parent firm Warner Bros. has so far struggled, ranking third for box office revenue so far this year even though it put out more films than its top two competitors, 20th Century Fox and Disney.

“Annabelle” was made cheaply because it doesn’t rely on expensive computerized special effects or highly paid actors, and the studio isn’t pouring money into marketing the film the way it does blockbusters such as “The Lego Movie.”

Still, it’s hard to predict what horror audiences want. They quickly grow tired of certain styles just as Hollywood begins a cycle of copycatting.

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