I did this last year, so I decided to do it again... Let's take a look at all the horror that came out theatrically last year, see how they ranked against everything else that came out and try to figure out if this tells us anything. If you want to look at last years list where we looked at all the films that came out in 2008, you can click here. If you're more interested in 2009, read on...
Before I get into it, yeah... some of these films would not be considered 'true horror' to some fans; films like "Twilight" or "Knowing", but I'm putting them in here because they're close enough and when it comes to theatrical releases, us horror fans should take what we can get. Cool? Having cleared the air there, I do think this was a good year for theatrical horror and, as I peruse this list, there's a few key interesting things that you can take away. Before we get to that, here's the list of all the horror movies that came out theatrically in 2009 and how they ranked, overall, domestically.
#5 - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
#27 - District 9
#29 - Paranormal Activity
#37 - Knowing
#40 - Zombieland
#48 - The Final Destination
#50 - Friday the 13th
#56 - The Haunting in Connecticut
#60 - My Bloody Valentine 3D
#64 - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
#69 - The Unborn
#70 - Drag Me To Hell
#71 - Orphan
#80 - Halloween II
#82 - The Last House on the Left
#91 - The Stepfather
#93 - Saw VI
#97 - The Fourth Kind
#114 - Jenifer's Body
#121 - The Box
#132 - Sorority Row
#135 - Pandorum
#136 - Whiteout
#147 - The Collector
The first key thing to notice is the uptrend in the amount of titles. There's around 5 or 6 more horror films cracking the top 150 and that just simply means that they're making more horror films. I think there were only 18 or 19 titles last year, this year there's 24. That's a good thing. Truth is, horror is a money maker for Hollywood. Low budgets, built in audiences, good returns. Hopefully this trend continues...
The next thing that I noticed is the ratio of "sequels, remakes and adaptations" to original films. In 2008, almost 75% of the horror films would be classified as either a sequel, remake or adaptation. This year, it's closer to 50%. That's still a lot higher than I'd like to see, but it's a step in the right direction. It's definitely a good thing to see for us screenwriters who have original ideas. If you look at the top 25 films, overall, almost all of them are sequels, remakes or adaptations... the exceptions would be "The Hangover", "The Blind Side", a few star driven comedies and some animated films. So, if you're in to writing spec scripts, horror's a pretty good genre to be in...
The last thing of note is that a lot of the top spots in horror are taken by films that had relatively low budgets. Even after you take "Paranormal Activity" out, "Zombieland", "District 9", "Drag Me To Hell", "Friday the 13th" and various others had budgets that range from $20Million to $30Million. Considering their grosses, that's pretty cheap. Horror continues to be the land of low budgets and decent returns. All in all, a good place to be...
In conclusion, it's tough to look at just one year versus another, but I think it's safe to say that 2009 was a far better year for horror than 2008. Now, looking forward to 2010, hopefully we can keep the ball rolling. Taking a brief look at the release schedule, here's looking forward to: "Daybreakers", "Legion", "The Wolfman", "The Crazies", "Piranha 3D" (What?!?!), "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Predators", "Priest", "Saw VII 3D" and whatever else happens to come our way.