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Diverse Audiences Are Driving the Horror Box Office Boom

Horror is on a hot streak for the movie business, and diverse millennials may be to thank for the surge in ticket sales.

Last year marked the first time the horror genre grossed over $1 billion at the box office, and if this holiday season is any indication, moviegoers are still willing to shell out for a good fright. “A Quiet Place,” “The Nun,” and most recently “Halloween” are just a few titles this year that delivered big scares — and solid profits for studios.

Movio, a provider of movie-marketing software, found that not all horror buffs are cut from the same cloth. In general, the demographic for horror films tends to split into two distinct sub-genres: paranormal and action. Paranormal fans are drawn to supernatural and slasher films, like “The First Purge,” “Slender Man,” and “Happy Death Day.” Action addicts lean more toward sci-fi titles including “Annihilation,” “A Quiet Place,” and “The Predator.” Both cohorts are younger and more diverse than the average blockbuster crowd. They also go to the theater more frequently than audiences of action films, comedies, or other genres.

“The horror genre is bringing in a young, high frequency audience,” Will Palmer, Movio’s CEO, said. “It seems logical to have something playing in these genres in theaters all the time.”

Here are some takeaways from Movio’s study:

  • The average age of horror audiences are younger than the overall moviegoing crowd (27% younger for paranormal and 5% for sci-fi).
  • Horror fans are a loyal bunch. 44% of paranormal horror fans go to the movies more than 12 times a year, while 56% of sci-fi aficionados attend multiplexes over a dozen times a year.
  • On average, horror enthusiasts spend more each month at the box office, even though their average admission per visit is less.
  • 13% of paranormal and 16% of sci-fi ticket-buyers are African-American and 31% of paranormal and 23% of sci-fi attendees are Hispanic (versus 15% and 19% respectively for an average blockbuster).
  • Action horror films skew toward a more male audience, while paranormal horror films are more evenly distributed between genders.

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