“Halloween” is a cult classic in the U.S., and the sequel now in theaters is already a huge hit. But how might it perform in countries that don’t celebrate Halloween?
For Universal and Blumhouse, the horror films and the franchises they have spawned through their partnership get well more than half of their box office gross from domestic audiences. But that’s OK. These aren’t blockbuster films designed to appeal across cultural boundaries. They are small, $3-5 million budget films that can appeal primarily to American horror buffs and get a strong return.
And that approach has paid off immensely. “Get Out,” Blumhouse’s biggest box office and critical success, was made on a budget of $4.5 million and made a stunning $176 million domestic from its pre-summer release spot. That accounted for 69 percent of the film’s global gross, with another $79.4 million coming from overseas.
But “Halloween” is a different beast. It’s not an original IP developed in-house by Blumhouse. It’s an installment of a franchise created 40 years ago and which has earned immense cult status. And as “Halloween” comes out in several major overseas territories this weekend, that recognition could help give the film solid footing outside of the U.S.
“Anytime you have a legacy IP that’s well-executed, it’s always going to have promise,” said Boxoffice’s Daniel Loria. “Familiarity outside the U.S. is going to come with the brand association.”
So far, results have been solid. In Mexico, the film posted one of the top five highest openings for a horror film in the country with $5 million. In the U.K., the film finished second to “A Star Is Born” but still opened to $3.4 million, higher than the $2.6 million opening for “Get Out.”
But the biggest opportunity for overseas success will come on, fittingly, Halloween, when the film opens in South Korea. The U.S. and Korea have had a shared passion for horror that predates the current boom period for the genre, and the country served as “Get Out”‘s top overseas market with $15.5 million grossed.
One place where the film won’t have an opening? China. Even if the film had a release date there, Michael Myers and Laurie Strode don’t have the cultural recognition with moviegoers there that they do in the rest of the world. That’s because, just like “Star Wars,” the series began at the end of the Cultural Revolution, when no foreign films were allowed to be screened.
That means there’s no nostalgia to capitalize on, not to mention that the horror boom has yet to really take root with Chinese moviegoers, thanks in large part to the country’s stringent censorship.
But that doesn’t mean Blumhouse is ignoring the Middle Kingdom. This past summer, studio founder Jason Blum announced that Blumhouse would partner with Chinese entertainment firm Tang Media Partners to develop low-budget, high-concept horror films tailored for Chinese audiences. With “Halloween” already the latest success for a studio that has earned recognition and trust in the eyes of American horror buffs, it’s a campaign that could help make Blumhouse a global name.