Will Blair Witch and Rings Scare Up Nostalgia?

Two high-profile horror flicks coming out this fall seem to have a lot in common. Both will help answer the question as to whether late 90s and early 00s nostalgia scares up business for the both of them.

Both Blair Witch (out September 16) and Rings (October 28) have had interesting journeys to the silver screen. Witch is, of course, a sequel to The Blair Witch Project from 1999. It came out of nowhere that summer and kicked off the found footage craze of the genre that continued for some time. Shot for a tiny $60,000, it grossed $248 million worldwide. This new one comes from director Adam Wingard (who made 2013’s well-regarded You’re Next). For months, it was known as The Woods and the reveal that it was actually related to the famed pic from 17 years ago was unknown until recently.

Rings reinvigorates the dormant franchise of movies that hit it big with 2002’s The Ring, Gore Verbinski’s remake of 1998’s Japanese flick Ringu. It starred Naomi Watts in the role that exposed her to mass audiences and made $249 million globally. Like Blair Witch Project, it ushered in its own sub genre of horror that included The Grudge. Rings has been delayed a couple of times – it was originally scheduled to premiere last November, then pushed to April, and finally to this Halloween.

A similarity that these two series share: an underwhelming second picture in between the original and the reboots coming our way this autumn. 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 didn’t strike the kind of chord that its predecessor did, earning weak reviews and just $50 million in sales. 2005’s The Ring Two also suffered mediocre critical response and audience reaction (making $76 million domestically compared to the original’s $129 million). What I recall most about it is some of the worst CG deer in the history of cinema.

The nostalgia train has been rolling along in theaters recently with some smashing successes (Jurassic World) and crushing failures (Independence Day: Resurgence). The horror genre is one that constantly remakes and re-imagines its popular franchises, but Blair Witch and Rings are among the first to test out moviegoers fondness for these series that hit it big less than two decades ago. Stay tuned!

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