Horror scares up overseas business

Foreign outings redeem some fright titles

Taking horror movies overseas hasn’t proved too frightening for Hollywood.

While the genre tends to generate reliable coin rather than blockbuster returns, some horror titles manage to scare up even more revenues internationally than in the United States.

In fact, “The Reaping,” “The Omen,” “Saw 3,” “The Ring 2” and “House of Wax” all outweighed their domestic grosses. And the four “Scary Movie” pics have been juggernauts at home and abroad, with $430 million domestically and another $400 million internationally.

The foreign runs for a pair of high-profile horror pics — “The Village” ($146 million) and “Van Helsing” ($180 million) — pretty much salvaged what had been disappointing domestic performances.

Abroad, “You can usually do 80% to 90% of (the) domestic (take) with horror films, but ‘Van Helsing’ was one of those films with a real international feel to it,” notes Paramount Intl. topper Andrew Cripps.

And though foreign horror B.O. doesn’t fall into the blockbuster category, it tends to be a solid choice for counterprogramming in many major markets.

“Horror is never going to go the way of the Western,” notes David Kornblum, senior VP at Walt Disney Motion Picture Group Intl. “It’s a genre that’s really stood the test of time. And exhibitors have not shown any reticence over the past decade.”

There are a few distinctions from the domestic market:

  • Horror works best when big stars are involved as in “The Others,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Signs.” Anticipation is high for the Par Vantage/Lionsgate remake of “The Eye,” starring Jessica Alba and due out in February.

  • Remakes of classics such as “The Omen” or Japanese successes like “The Ring” and “The Grudge” have shown decent foreign traction.

  • The best horror markets are the U.K., Spain, Italy and Latin America — particularly Mexico and Brazil.

  • France is iffy; so are Japan and South Korea, which often rely on homegrown scarefare; Australia, Germany and Scandinavia tend to be the most problematic, partly due to censorship problems.

  • Day-and-dating still hasn’t taken hold. “What you usually do is leverage off the success domestically,” notes Stephanie Denton, Lionsgate’s president of international film sales.

The overseas market is even more sensitive to the gorier titles. Neither “Hostel” nor “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has shown much traction internationally; the latter took in less than a third of its $39 million domestic total.

“There’s an oversaturation right now in horror,” Denton notes. “It’s such a competitive market that you have to get something out there that feels fresh and edgy.”

In the case of the “Saw” franchise, overseas moviegoers have shown increasing levels of love for Jigsaw. Foreign cume for the original “Saw” hit $45 million, followed by $66 million for “Saw 2” and $82 million for “Saw 3”; Denton believes a $100 million foreign cume for “Saw 4” is easily within reach when it opens day and date in its traditional October slot.

“What’s worked with the franchise is that it’s not really straight-out horror — it’s much more a question of how the victims got to where they are,” Denton observes. “You’ve got to have those kind of twists so it doesn’t feel like just another programmer.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety