After a long series of busts for Paramount, the Melrose studio finally has something to celebrate — “A Quiet Place,” which blew by analyst expectations with an opening weekend of $50 million, is the best start for a Paramount film since “Star Trek: Beyond” nearly two years ago.
And unlike “Beyond,” which had a $185 million budget, “A Quiet Place” was made on a thrifty $17 million budget, making this an instantly profitable release. It’s starring, directed and co-written by John Krasinski, whose success as a first-time filmmaker for a major studio with this horror tale could bring in more offers from Hollywood’s heavyweights.
All of this is thanks to a mix of quality work from Krasinski and his team, excellent stewardship by Paramount, and the continuing success of horror at the box office. Here are our five reasons for “A Quiet Place” taking theaters by storm.
1.) Concept + Heart = Broad Appeal
From a monster that attacks his victims in their nightmares to a doll with the soul of a serial killer, high-concept films are standard when it comes to horror. “A Quiet Place” starts with a concept among the best of them: monsters that will quickly devour anything that makes a sound louder than breathing.
It’s a concept that quickly grabs audience attention and makes for striking trailers that can freak anyone out. But that concept is coupled with protagonists who come up with brilliant ways to survive in a world of silence and who embody a theme that can resonate beyond the hardcore horror crowd: the desire to protect one’s family.
“It really is all about the story. It’s something that anyone can relate to on a basic level,” Paramount domestic distribution head Kyle Davies told TheWrap. “And the proof of that is in the demographics. This film played in big cities, small cities and with people from all walks of life.”
“Get Out” was able to tap into this crossover appeal last year, providing social commentary for audiences who want more than just a good scare. Krasinski, who told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” that he had never seen a horror film before starting work on “A Quiet Place,” said that he signed on to do the project because he empathized with the Abbott parents’ all-encompassing focus on protecting their children and wanted to make that the nucleus of the story. Mission accomplished.
2.) Horror Is Hot at the Box Office
2017 truly was a banner year for horror. Along with “Get Out,” which also won an Oscar and has helped make Blumhouse into one of the most noteworthy studios in Hollywood, titles like “Annabelle: Creation,” “47 Meters Down” and “Split” also came away with strong box office numbers. And, of course, there was “It,” which became one of the top 10 highest grossing films of last year and set a new all-time box office record for horror.
In other words, moviegoers love a good scare right now, and Hollywood is delivering with several well-reviewed films. “A Quiet Place” is the latest in that slew of successes, and audiences have responded.
3.) Blockbuster Counter-Programming
Part of the reason for this interest in horror is because it provides an alternative to the usual triple-A action blockbusters released on a regular basis. This past March was defined by such films, with “Tomb Raider” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” needing China to help boost numbers before “Ready Player One” finally became the mega-budget film that domestic audiences responded to.
But this also meant the market was wide open for studios who could provide a movie for those who weren’t interested in CGI flash-and-bang. “A Quiet Place” was able to provide that at a much cheaper price tag for the studio, serving as genre counter-programming to “Ready Player One.” This was also the case for “Blockers,” a raunchy comedy from Universal that opened to $21.4 million this weekend.
This annual festival in Austin has become the perfect launch pad for studios with films that might be commercially risky or not on most moviegoers’ radars. If your film’s got the goods, the critics and crowds at South by Southwest will quickly let the rest of the world know, as we saw when “Ready Player One” finally got some traction after holding its world premiere at SXSW and getting a standing ovation.
“A Quiet Place” enjoyed similar acclaim after its SXSW launch, earning unanimous praise from critics in Austin and going on to post a 97 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Anticipating that praise, Paramount set the film to be released in this early April slot to capitalize off the critical success.
5.) The New Paramount Regime
As noted at the top, Paramount is a studio in desperate need of a turnaround at the box office, and “A Quiet Place” marks the first big victory for the company under its new CEO, Jim Gianopulos.
The former 20th Century Fox head took over at Paramount 12 months ago, just three weeks after “A Quiet Place” was greenlit with Krasinski and his wife, Emily Blunt, attached to the project. Under Gianopulos’ team, the film became a priority project at Paramount, with the studio deciding to make it the centerpiece of SXSW in the hopes of quickly building word of mouth. In between the festival and release, Paramount launched an extensive digital campaign promoting the film’s premise, with Krasinski and Blunt making appearances on “The Today Show,” “Ellen” and “The Tonight Show” to promote it.
Next week, “A Quiet Place” will go against Blumhouse and its new movie “Truth or Dare.” It’s expected to win as early projections have it making a second weekend total in the $20 million range, with “Truth or Dare” opening in the low teens.