As of this writing James Wan’s The Conjuring is the ninth highest grossing supernatural horror movie of all-time. The Warner Bros./New Line Cinema haunter, from the mind behind Saw and Insidious, is going to surpass $100M at the domestic box office this weekend, with no signs of slowing down.
This is a huge deal. Actually, it’s beyond massive. The Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor starrer is being called “too scary” by some critics, which is part of the film’s success. But what’s so astounding is that a studio – Warner Bros. in this instant – took a chance releasing a horror film mid-summer, July 19 to be exact. Typically, horror movies get destroyed in the summer shuffle that’s jam-packed with monster blockbusters. While you can say it was a weak opening weekend, the fact of the matter is that The Conjuring is a summer horror movie release that’s going into the record books. By the end of its miraculous run it could top $140M, which would put it ahead of Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, The Ring and The Grudge for the fourth highest grossing supernatural horror film of all-time. To put it in perspective, his Saw film took in $55M and Insidious made $54. This is James Wan’s horror coup de grâce and is the perfect send-off to his newly minted, monstrous Hollywood career.
But why is it such a big deal that The Conjuring is on pace for $140M? Well, it tells the Hollywood community that horror is hotter than ever, that general audiences like to be scared, and that with proper promotion a good horror film can be insanely successful. Horror needs more support from the big studios, and should stop being treated like the black sheep of the sub-genres.
James Wan started a horror revolution in 2004 with Saw; hopefully the studios recognize the message The Conjuring is sending and be invigorated by is success that they’ll begin supporting horror the way it deserves. This could be the beginning of an era jam-packed with “fresh” ideas, as opposed to stale remakes and franchise sequels. 2014 could be pretty sweet, thanks to Wan, New Line and Warner Bros., both of whom deserve a standing ovation.