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‘Goosebumps’ Looks to Tap Into ’90s Nostalgia

A brew of positive reviews and nostalgia-loving young adults could help “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black, open Friday to a spooky success.

The Sony release is likely to open to $20-25 million, according to analysts such as BoxOffice.com’s Phil Contrino. The studio is being more conservative and predicting a debut of $15 million.

Box office prognosticators believe a recent lack of family movies will work in the kid-friendly horror movie’s favor. “Hotel Transylvania 2” has done robust business since opening last month and while “Pan” was hobbled by savage reviews when it debuted last weekend, the market seems primed for another all-ages picture.

Critics have been kind, with reviewers praising its mixture of scares and laughs.

“I think families will be heading to ‘Goosebumps’ in the next weekend because they’re ready for something,” Contrino said. “There was a long time recently where you didn’t have a whole lot of family friendly movies in September.”

Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian agrees that the lack of family films out now will help the movie’s success.

“Family films have proven to be some of the most consistent performers this year and 2015, having not been overly crowded with such films, has provided a strong and marketplace for these films to do well at the box office,” Dergarabedian said. “‘Goosebumps’ will likely be the next beneficiary of the robust and enthusiastic nature of the family audience in theaters”

Though “Goosebumps” takes its name from the popular kids horror book series from the 1990s, the movie takes a meta-twist and revolves around a kid who moves in next to series author R.L. Stine and accidentally releases the books’ monsters into the real world. More than 400 million “Goosebumps” books, from Scholastic Books, have been sold since 1992.

It’s pegged at kids, but there’s something for young adults and parents too. With the ability to tap in to the monsters that haunted many of the books including the werewolf from “Werewolf in Fever Swamp,” a giant praying mantis from “A Shocker on Shock Street,” and most infamously Slappy from the “Night of the Living Dummy series” the movie will also attract many millennials who devoured the stories as kids.

“There’s a real nostalgia factor going on, but at the same time we’re doing something fresh with it that may attract new readers to the books,” said Rory Bruer,  Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. “It’s something that’s going to play well through Halloween and beyond.”

On the “Goosebumps” Facebook and Twitter pages, moviegoers comment that they want to take their kids to the movie and mention the memories that hit them seeing the trailer. People are using #90skid on both social media pages to emphasize their emotional connection. These moviegoers in the 18-35 age group could also play a significant part in the movie’s success.

Black has been making the promotional rounds with a focus on video sites in addition to traditional media: he made Halloween treats with popular Youtuber My Cupcake Addiction and created Pinterest hacks at Buzzfeed Video.

And at 10 theaters, fans can also experience the “Goosebumps” Virtual Reality Adventure that debuted Sept. 26.

“You’ve got a multi-generational thing here that’s going to work in its favor,” Contrino said. “I’m 30 and I grew up reading them; I want to see the movie. Young parents who have kids that are 7 and up — they’ll look at that and say ‘OK, that’s something that’s going to entertain me as well’ and that’s obviously important when you’re talking about a movie like this.”

“Goosebumps” opens Oct. 16 and stars Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee and Amy Ryan.

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