Horror Movies Make Tough Times Less Scary for Studios

This Halloween, the movie business should give thanks for things that go bump in the night. Horror movies remain surefire winners at a time when studios are struggling to convince audiences to abandon couch-potatoing and hit up the multiplex.

“Don’t Breathe,” “Lights Out,” and “The Purge: Election Year,” are just a few recent hits to scratch moviegoers’ itch to be thrillingly terrified.

Such films are cheap to produce, which can make them wildly profitable. And should they fall flat, like September’s “The Disappointments Room,” the financial pain is kept to a minimum.

Movio, a provider of movie-marketing software, crunched the numbers on 24 scary films released between January 2015 and September 2016. The company found that horror ticket-buyers tend to be young, and that Hispanics and African-Americans make up a large percentage of the audience. Moreover, fans of the genre don’t overlap with those who routinely check out action films, comedies, animated fare, or other genres.

“The horror audience is an audience unto itself,” says Will Palmer, Movio’s CEO. “They’re quite fanatical. But it’s also a niche that doesn’t expand much past its core.”

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Here are some takeaways from Movio’s number crunching:

  • 60% of the audience is made up of people between the age of 15 and 30 (versus 40% for the average movie).
  • It’s more female than usual (49% versus 47% for the average movie).
  • Last summer, horror films accounted for 10% of cinema visits by moviegoers under 30-years-old.
  • The audience is 33% larger minority audience than the average movie,
  • 16% of ticket-buyers are African-American and 24% are Hispanic (versus respectively 12% and 18% for an average movie).
  • Horror fans’ average movie-going frequency is 4% greater than that of an average movie audience.

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