**Blogger’s Note (01/13): On the eve of its premiere, I am upping the 4-day tally for Scream from $29.4 million to $36.4M
The fifth installment of the Scream franchise slashes its way into theaters on January 14th, hoping to bring in a sizable horror fan base. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, makers of V/H/S and Ready or Not, direct as they take reigns of the series from scare master Wes Craven (who helmed the first four and passed away in 2015). Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Marley Shelton, and Roger L. Jackson (as the iconic voice of Ghostface) reprise roles from previous entries. Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid.
Nearly a quarter century ago, the low-budget original became a cultural phenomenon and revitalized the genre. Two sequels followed in quick succession in 1997 and 2000 while part 4 hit in 2011. It was a commercial disappointment – taking in only $38 million at the domestic box office (with a $19 million start).
Paramount and Dimension Films are hoping that nostalgia will bring audiences back to the fold. Fright fests, more than any other type of pic in 2021, proved immune to challenges faced in the COVID era in terms of solid openings. The third Conjuring and Candyman each premiered in the low to mid 20s range. Scream will have an extra day of earnings when factoring in the long MLK frame.
January is very desolate in terms of high profile debuts and Scream is by far the biggest one. It marks a major test for theaters as the Omicron variant sweeps across the country. If this fails to perform, don’t be surprised to see delays for upcoming releases. Even with that potential barrier and the underperformance of its predecessor, I envision this managing a mid to possibly late 20s haul when including Monday.
Scream opening weekend prediction: $36.4 million (Friday to Monday estimate)
If a Mount Rushmore were to exist for horror film directors, there is no question that Wes Craven would be on it. Eyes wide open. Certainly not sleeping. It was with great sadness that film lovers learned of his death at age 76 due to a battle with brain cancer. His influence has been inescapable and that is no understatement. When I learned of his death, I was watching the MTV VMA’s (a horror show of a different kind) and the network was incessantly running promos for their TV version of Scream, based on the franchise he directed.
For over 40 years, Mr. Craven’s work was synonymous with being on the cutting edge of the horror genre. 1972’s The Last House on the Left and 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes are hard edged genre classics. 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street brought the slasher flick to new heights. 1996’s Scream both parodied horror movies while being a brilliantly effective one of its own.
These are the obvious titles that will be discussed with his work but allow me to put forth two more that probably won’t be focused on as much. 1988’s The Serpent and the Rainbow is a voodoo infused underrated effort that is definitely worth a look. 2005’s Red Eye is an effective B movie thriller with taut direction and quality performances from Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy.
Craven is also responsible for 1982’s fun monster pic Swamp Thing and directing Meryl Streep to an Oscar nomination in 1999’s drama Music of My Heart. There were missteps too. His 1995 Eddie Murphy vanity project Vampire in Brooklyn immediately comes to mind. The Scream sequels tended to go down in quality as they continued on.
Yet few filmmakers have defined and redefined a particular genre as much as Wes Craven. His works have and will continue to stand the test of time. One only needs to look at how many of his pictures have already been remade or spawned sequels. The original editions of Elm Street and Scream in particular stand as hallmarks of horror that will continue to make audiences lose sleep and laugh about it forever. When it’s impossible to imagine a genre of film without the contribution of one man, that’s a legacy of greatness. Few directors can make that claim. Wes Craven was one of them. Sleep well, Mr. Craven.