Something very strange happened last Friday: 20th Century Fox, a major Hollywood studio, released an R-rated, slow-burn horror film in the tradition of late 1960s and early 1970s horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Shining. That film also happens to have a 146-minute runtime, a $40 million production budget and a high-profile director at the helm. That film is Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness. Needless to say, the fact that this film was even made, much less given a wide release, is surprising. This isn’t the type of film that audiences usually go out in droves to see. Unfortunately, no one did rush out to see the film, making it the first big horror flop of 2017.
Expectations were not incredibly high for A Cure for Wellness going into the weekend, with estimates predicting that the film would make anywhere from $6-$8 million over the three-day weekend. Those estimates proved to be rather generous, as A Cure for Wellness grossed a meager $4.3 million domestically in the number 10 slot its opening weekend. That is just over 10% its production budget. Needless to say, it doesn’t look like A Cure for Wellness will turn any sort of profit, especially once marketing costs are factored in.
Knowing all of this, it is with the utmost humility that I implore you to go to your local movie theater this weekend and see A Cure for Wellness. These words of mine may confuse some of you. After all, I did give it a middling 2.5/5 score last week. What gives? I’ll tell you what gives. We need more films like A Cure for Wellness getting made (just of a better quality). I know, I thought the film was “just an okay film with some wonderful visuals,” but fans of the genre owe their support to even mediocre films. Because A Cure for Wellness will be seen as such a huge flop, it is highly unlikely that more films like it will get made any time soon. There just isn’t any profitability there.
All too often I see commenters lament the lack of a certain type of horror film in the release schedule, and when a film that fits the bill actually does get released, no one goes to see it. Of course, A Cure for Wellness is just not the type of film that modern audiences want to see anymore, but there is an audience for films like it. They just don’t like to go to the theaters anymore or waste money on a film that they may not like. I completely understand that. When you see a film that has a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score (which, let’s be honest, isn’t even that bad) and a 47 Metacritic score, you’re wary about spending money on it (though if that is the case then how do you explain the Transformers movies making so much money?). Sometimes we need to take a risk and spend money on a movie anyway.
“But Trace, don’t you get to see movies for free?” you ask. “That sort of makes you a hypocrite.” Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Every now and then I’ll catch a press screening here in Austin, TX, but that isn’t always the case (for example, I paid $22 to see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in IMAX 3D). I confess that I did see A Cure for Wellness for free, so make of that what you will, but that is also part of the reason I am writing this article. Us horror fans need to be united and support as much mainstream horror as we can, even if it’s a shitty movie (except for The Bye Bye Man….fuck that movie).
So why didn’t you go see A Cure for Wellness last weekend? Did reviews deter you? Or word of mouth? Or did it just not look appealing to you? No matter the case, I implore you to go show your support for horror and see A Cure for Wellness this weekend. It’s facing some stiff competition from Get Out (our review), which as of this writing is looking to be the best-reviewed horror film of the year, and it’s only February! But make a sacrifice and spend the money on A Cure for Wellness. I didn’t think it was great, but maybe you will. At the very least you’ll have some positive karma coming your way for supporting the genre.