Times are changing Bidites and as movie ticket sale prices continue to rise the profitability of movies in cinemas continue to decrease. Last year for example the industry witnessed a 5 year low for movie theater profits which included a tittle wave of films shot in 3D which, as we all know, raise ticket prices by some 30 percent. No matter how many comic book movies and James Cameron pictures they make, sales for theaters continue to decline.
This has many people in Hollywood clamoring for ways to salvage the sinking ship. Deals like MoviePass, which recently announced a package to charge $50 to moviegoers to allow them to see as many films as they want in a 1 month time period are being thrown around. While this may be great for you and I, it has studios and investors up in arms wondering how they will turn a profit with such slim margins. This is just one example of movie theaters trying to keep their heads above water by hopefully getting people into the theaters, enticing them to pick up a $8 popcorn and $5 beverage.
So what does this slump have to do with horror? Unfortunately more than any other genre we are afraid. Horror films by default are generally cheaper movies to make. You would think this would be good news, right? Yes and no. On one hand it is great for the horror genre. Films like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and INSIDIOUS were made on ridiculously low budgets and scored insane numbers at the box office. Great news on one hand but for every diamod in the rough you have other films (literally too many to list) that flop. Because of this Hollywood is leery of betting on horror and who can blame them?
Most horror films are inherently adult themed and thus are given a rated R standing. This is disastrous for many movie studios because it literally cuts profits in half. In the 70's and 80's film studios could get away with marketing rated R horror movies to a younger generation because the policy for allowing children into see them films were laxed. This was the same mentality that cigarette companies used with mascots like Joe Camel. They used old Joe to market to kids because although you were supposed to be 18 to buy a pack of smokes most stores weren't following the law. It wasn't enforced like it is today. This is the same conundrum that studios face when marketing a rated R horror film. The laws are much stricter and getting in to see SCREAM 4 at the box office if you're underage is much more difficult today than say it was to get in to see the original SCREAM in 1996.
So that brings us to the future. With movie tickets continuing to slide and with home theaters getting better and better we envision the future of horror blending into straight DVD/Blu-ray releases. This doesn't mean that horror will be out of the theaters entirely but you will see studios taking less and less risks as the years move on (much like they are now, betting solely on proven remake franchies).
This just means that we as a horror community have to be more vigilante with the future of horror. We need to make sure that the hidden home market gems get the attention that theatrical releases do today. It is already starting. The most notable example is the fantastic horror anthology TRICK R' TREAT which was shelved only to be released on DVD and Blu-ray. A film that not only should have been shown in theaters but would have probably dominated the box office for the month of October.
Its our duty to look into the future and make sure we keep pace with the changing times. No matter what happens horror is going nowhere and to be honest, a future of straight-to-video horror is not a bad thing. It will allow lower budget artists and directors the ability to shock and awe us much like they did back in the glory days. Yes, horror has a bright future. You just may need to lock your doors at home, put the kids to bed and turn off your phones to enjoy it.