This weekend Machete Kills tanked at the box office with only $3.8 million dollars despite boasting a cadre of stars that would have made any business affairs exec blush in their heyday. While Machete isn’t really a horror film – I often see the “no star” angle bandied about whenever a horror movie fails to live up to commercial expectations (however insane those expectations might be). And it’s not uncommon to see horror films filled with A-list talent die on the vine.
The fact is that’s a usually a misinformed argument. Horror, more than any other genre, has the highest immunity against “negative starpower.” For better or worse, horror films usually live or die based on word of mouth and marketing (sadly, these days it’s mostly dependent on marketing for the first weekend – with word of mouth picking up the slack to fill future playdates).
Finding examples for this list was like shooting fish in a barrel, and there’s a silver lining in that. In horror, you don’t necessarily need a star – you just need the best actor for the part (of course, that doesn’t stop lazy hacks from exploiting gene goodwill by filling their films with talentless nobodies – but one step at a time). This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Not only were the actors in this film complete unknowns when it hit theaters (many naive moviegoers actually believed Blair Witch was real and that these people actually perished), they remained unknown – despite their best efforts – following the film’s gargantuan cultural impact.
Worldwide Box Office: $248,639,099
Domestic Box Office: $39,754,601 (Adjusted for inflation: $120,593,900)
Worldwide Box Office: $80,578,934
This was Jamie Lee Curtis’ very first film. And before you say, “but Donald Pleasance was in it” please take into account that he wasn’t really a box office draw. There are “actors” and there are “movie stars,” and Pleasance was the former. People wanted to see the movie.
Domestic Box Office: $47,000,000 (Adjusted for inflation: $163,897,400)
Worldwide Box Office: $193,355,800