Why Halloween Is Looking Like a Box Office Graveyard

Hollywood’s worst fear is being realized this Halloween.

The ghouls-and-goblins holiday falls on a Friday, an accident of the calendar that will likely result in a box office bloodbath. Moviegoing will be low on the list of people’s entertainment priorities, robbing the exhibition industry of one of the busiest nights of the week.

It marks the second time this year that a major holiday has fallen on a weekend, wreaking havoc at the multiplexes. Fourth of July was celebrated on a Friday, and became the worst box office weekend for the industry since 1987, when adjusted for inflation.

To get out in front of the commercial carnage, studios already have unleashed horror films such as “Annabelle,” “Dracula Untold” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”

Due to debut in theaters Oct. 24 is “Ouija,” a supernatural thriller inspired by the board game, joining a flurry of limited releases of variable quality and commercial prospects already on screens, such as “The Pact II” and “Housebound.”

Complicating issues is the fact that Paramount, once a mainstay of October with its “Paranormal Activity” films, has begun releasing the pictures at different points of the year, with movies such as “The Purge” and “The Conjuring” showing that summer and other times of year can be hospitable for films that rely on scares.

Indeed, Halloween weekend will be a veritable graveyard, with no major horror openings. Open Road will debut edgy crime thriller “Nightcrawler,” Lionsgate is re-releasing “Saw” and Radius-TWC is bowing the Daniel Radcliffe chiller “Horns” (pictured) in theaters (weeks after its VOD release).

In horror movies, the rule of thumb is to steer clear of the attic or the basement. For studios, when Halloween falls on a weekend, debuting a film during the holiday could prove just as deadly.

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