A lengthy post, so it always helps to give a brief summary...
- a great overview
- 3 key horror hits, budget + box office
- the all-time horror box office list + analysis; same for slashers specifically
- top distributors in 2017
- horror's overall market share
- the Netflix/Amazon option
- self-distribution + using film fests + London screenings (2 £30k examples)
- 2 very useful tags!
- picking a specific distributor for yourself: the Warp and WT examples, plus finding horror specialists
Most movies fail to gain theatrical distribution.
Horror movies typically don't feature any star names (being, mostly, a low budget genre), so have an obvious problem in persuading distributors to gamble serious money.
Then again ... the examples of Halloween, Blair Witch Project and, more recently, Paranormal Activity, showed the possibility of making major box office without the benefit of stars, franchise or a traditionally bankable genre.
SIMPLY A GREAT OVERVIEW,WITH DETAILED FIGURES INCLUDED
Here's a lengthy quote from a lengthy feature which is well worth a read overall...
Horror distribution—either self-distribution or through a distribution company—has left many moviemakers battle-hardened. Sometimes it seems like independent moviemakers need a PhD in economics. “One film I produced certainly opened my eyes to the realities of distribution economics,” says Travis Stevens, owner of production company Snowfort Pictures, Inc., and producer of the Adam Wingard-directed A Horrible Way to Die. “We made the film for $96,000. It played the festival circuit, had a great sales agent, and secured distribution around the world. The advances from those distribution deals brought in roughly $250,000, of which the sales agent kept $50,000, leaving about $200,000 to the producers. The investors recouped their $96,000, leaving $104,000 of profit. On this deal, the investors were entitled to 50 percent of the profits, leaving about $52,000 to be split between the three filmmakers. We made about $17,000 each for a movie we worked on for free about three years. You could probably make more buying or selling shoelaces on eBay!”
Budget to global box office, 3 iconic low budget horror examples
Halloween (1978) $300k - $70m [big chunk of the budget went on just 2 days with Donald Pleasance, a relative 'star']
Blair Witch Project (1999) $60k - $25m [an even better multiple than Hwn! Sundance screening + early eg of viral marketing]
Paranormal Activity (2007) $15k - $194m [an incredible multiple, but misleading as distributor Paramount poured millions into the marketing. Established Jason Blum as the low budget (usually sub-$5m) Michael Bay!]
THE ALL-TIME BIGGEST