Adam Robitel‘s terrifying debut The Taking of Deborah Logan never received a theatrical release (we’ll forever be scratching our heads over that one), but Robitel subsequently kicked off Hollywood’s big screen horror offerings in both 2018 and 2019, with Insidious: The Last Key opening last January and Escape Room arriving in theaters this past weekend.
The former film, of course, saw Robitel taking over the reins of an established franchise, but this year’s Escape Room gave Robitel the chance to create a hit horror franchise of his very own. And with an opening weekend domestic box office take of $18 million, double the film’s production budget, it’s safe to say that Robitel hit another home run with his third feature.
Sony has a profitable horror hit on their hands with Escape Room, a super fun offering that had “franchise starter” written all over it even before the numbers came in. The concept, based on the current room escape craze (which itself was largely inspired by the Saw franchise that Escape Room cribs from) was more or less guaranteed to appeal to all the most important demographics, so it should probably come as no big surprise to anyone that audiences turned out in droves to see it. Nor should it come as any surprise to anyone reading this right now when we’re writing about Escape Room 4 in a few years, as the premise laid out by Robitel and company all but ensured that if Escape Room was a success, sequels would follow.
Blending the provocative elements of the Saw (rooms as traps), Final Destination (sole survivors) and even Hostel (murder as entertainment for the rich) franchises, Escape Room sets up limitless potential for what is likely to become the next annual horror franchise that studios are always not-so-secretly hoping to launch. In the film’s final act, we learn that a well-funded organization is behind the horror, one that appeals to rich consumers who shell out good money to watch captured victims try and survive deadly escape rooms. The victims in the film are all connected due to being sole survivors of past tragedies, but the film’s “Game Master” notes in the final act that they’re far from the first group to be captured.
It’s revealed in the Game Master’s info dump that the organization’s customers have previously bet on games featuring college athletes and savants as the players, hinting at the endless potential for the Escape Room franchise. If Sony is so inclined, and as long as audiences remain interested, sequels to this year’s first horror hit could center on all kinds of unique character groupings, allowing for each film in the franchise to have a unique twist on it. As for the actual escape rooms, well, the sky is clearly the limit when it comes to their design.
As Escape Room‘s (admittedly unnecessary) final moments show, the organization is even able to replicate the experience of being trapped on a plane that’s going down – and let’s not forget that they literally turned a room in an office building into an outdoor winter environment! – so the groundwork has needlessly to say been laid for the franchise to get as crazy and “high concept” as it wants. Upside down rooms may seem like child’s play in a few years.
Though Escape Room may not be as unique or even as good as the first installments in the Saw and Final Destination franchises, it possesses literally all of the ingredients necessary to become the next big modern horror franchise. By aping what has worked for the genre’s most recent hit franchises, there’s a damn good chance that Escape Room just joined that list.
Speaking with Daily Dead recently, before the release of Escape Room, Adam Robitel touched upon his film’s franchise potential, making it clear that he’d love to direct a sequel.
“We have a lot of ideas,” Robitel the site. “I always felt like it was more important to tease the world and create the mystery. If we had explained everything away, I think ultimately it just wouldn’t be that interesting.”
He continued, “But to answer your question, we would love to do [a sequel]. We’re not so arrogant as to think that this is a sure thing, and I think ultimately the audience will decide what will happen. Unfortunately, moviemaking is still a business, and so it would have to make financial sense to make another one. I do think there are innumerable storylines and there are so many styles of escape rooms out there, that we could definitely keep coming up with cool ideas.”
Audiences have proven they’re on board. Now it’s up to Sony to make this baby a franchise.