×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Conjuring’ test screenings scare up B.O. potential

WB, New Line give horror pic rare summer berth after pic generates rare reaction

For the first time in recent memory, a straight-up horror film — Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Conjuring” — will bow during the heart of summer, a result of scary-good test screening results.

The film’s recent date change from Jan. 25 to July 19 was announced just days before Warner premiered an extended scene and trailer for the film Saturday at New York Comic Con. The footage elicited thunderous applause and screams.

Still, studio execs likely weren’t too surprised by the response. Since the summer, “Conjuring” has been generating virtually unheard-of positive responses from two test screenings.

The move to July — a huge vote of confidence for “The Conjuring” — was made in direct response to those screenings: The film scored in the low-90% range when averaging the number of auds who rated the film either “excellent” or “very good.” Concerning men under 25, the pic scored even higher, just below 100%.

For context, it’s very rare for a film to receive those sort of scores; it’s even rarer for horror films.

“I said to Toby Emmerich, ‘Let’s take a chance, ‘ ” said Warner distribution chief Dan Fellman. “Horror movies tend to get bunched together and then drop off quickly, but they don’t have to.”

Warner first tested “The Conjuring” mid-summer, which prompted helmer James Wan (“Insidious,” “Saw”) to make some minor tweaks. Pic screened again roughly three weeks ago and received similarly promising ratings, or even a bit better.

Horror films lately have been monopolizing first quarter release pipelines, as well as late-August and early fall. One of the last horror pics to go wide in June or July was Fox’s “The Omen” remake in 2006.

“New Line and Warner Bros. have been so supportive,” Wan said. “It’s a testament to their support that they’re willing to take a chance and open it next summer right in the heart of big films.”

The scarily postive reaction is even more surprising since “The Conjuring” isn’t based on a known property like fellow Comic Con titles “Carrie,” “Evil Dead” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” At a time when studios gravitate more toward reboots, Wan (right) said he wanted to tell “a classic ghost story” that pays homage to pics like “The Amityville Horror.”

Based on a true story, “The Conjuring” revolves around ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren and their investigation of a young family that moves into a New England farmhouse where they’re haunted by spirits.

Wan introduced the footage during the panel held at the IGN-branded theater at the Javits Center. Panel also included thesps Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston.

During a Q&A session, a father told Wan that his teenage daughter turned to him while a scene played and said, “I can’t handle this, I can’t handle this,” telling Wan, “You’ve got one helluva hit on your hands.”

More Film

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

  • The Lighthouse

    Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Unveils Lineup

    Robert Eggers’s anticipated “The Lighthouse” with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, Luca Guadagnino’s medium-length film “The Staggering Girl” and Japanese helmer Takashi Miike’s “First Love” are set to unspool at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight under the new leadership of Paolo Moretti. Described by Moretti as a “hypnotic two-hander” powered by Pattinson and Dafoe, “The Lighthouse” is [...]

  • Media Luna Acquires ‘We Had It

    Cannes Festival: Media Luna Takes ‘We Had It Coming,’ ‘The Friendly Man’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run-up to next month’s Cannes Festival, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has acquired international rights to “We Had It Coming,” starring Natalie Krill (“Wynonna Earp,” “Below Her Mouth”) and Brazil’s “The Friendly Man,” one of the standouts at Ventana Sur’s strong Copia Final showcase of near-finished Latin American movies. MK2 Mile End will [...]

  • ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Stars Make Emotional Speeches at Historic Marvel Premiere

    If more than twenty worldwide blockbusters over ten years sounds like a big undertaking, try locking up the cell phones and smartwatches of Hollywood’s most important people for four hours. Only a franchise with the cache of the “Avengers” series could have A-list talent, celebrity fans, agents and executives gladly turn over their gadgets for [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' First Reactions: 'Most Emotional, Most Epic MCU Film'

    The end is finally here. “Avengers: Endgame” had its world premiere Monday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center and reactions on social media from fans, journalists and critics are already pouring in. The reaction has so far been almost universally positive, with several commentors warning fans of the movie’s emotional elements. Brandon Davis wrote [...]

  • Josh Brolin, Kathryn Boyd. Josh Brolin,

    'Avengers: Endgame's' Josh Brolin: Thanos' Butt Is a 'Beautiful, Purple Peach'

    On the eve of “Avengers: Endgame’s” world premiere, everyone’s thoughts have turned to the one crucial detail that could be the difference between life or death for the Avengers: Does Thanos have a butt? “I don’t know what that whole thing is about! I really don’t!” Josh Brolin, who plays Thanos, told Variety‘s Marc Malkin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content