Thursday, 19 April 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

INDIE horror thriving on streaming platforms

Why smart horror is putting the fear into sequel-addicted Hollywood

Thursday, 11 January 2018

DISTRIBUTION getting micro-budget movies released

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.

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!]


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

GREMLINS tee-shirt with re-release cinema ticket

Well, when you make a pig's ear of globally renowned IP like Superman and Batman, might as well give up on new movies and recycle past glories, right?

Smartest move Warner have done in a while is announcing a 2017 cash-in limited re-release of Joe Dante's classic Gremlins, the cinema release featuring a director feature as a straight promo for a new Blu-ray release!

I'd go see it myself, except for the seeming US only strategy - tad short sighted methinks. But then I got food, bright light and water after midnight sometime back ...

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


If you're presenting a rundown of the target audience for your own slasher production you need to get into details such as:
  • a specific age range + gender/s for both primary + secondary target audience
  • justified through specific references to media language links to existing films
  • including representations (uses and gratifications theory)
  • a moodboard (or 2: 1 for each gender or 1 each for primary/secondary)
  • BBFC/MPAA (+/or others) age rating
  • test the familiarity of your target audience with the genre, and get some sense of whether there's likelihood some would watch yours
  • the historic and recent box office record of the genre
  • typical box office, and some comparison with other genres to put this in clear context 
  • production and distribution companies with a particular record in the genre
  • directors and actors strongly linked to the genre (and therefore with a niche fanbase)
  • the role + prominence of franchises in the genre
  • specific consideration of remakes, reboots, reimaginings, prequels, sequels
  • monetising back catalogue through editionalising DVDs and boxsets (Childs Play a good recent example)
  • typical budgets, and some comparison with other genres to put this in clear context (stars, CGI, IP, sets, extras all being significant factors in higher budgets) 
  • use of websites + social media by production and distribution companies for marketing
  • fandom: fan-sites and social media, as well as UGC on YouTube etc
Some simple searches...
She's written some great analysis on Scream fan communities online (google)
A fantastic book on the narrative structure and audience (using box office analysis) of the slasher (google)
I was looking for hits from the Guardian box office columns (could try it without Gant, others write this too...), and found some prominent links to my own blog - which are rather useful! (google)
I knew he'd written relevant material, having read it ... so widened the search to horror (bear in mind that slasher is a sub-genre and also has multiple alternative names eg slice and dice, stalk and slash) ... and saw lots of useful hits... (google)
Getting into the nitty gritty, homing in on the details of a single franchise. I figured I'd likely find US, world box office for each movie and franchise averages and budgets ... and I did! (google)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Back from the dead: is the slasher movie set to make a killing?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

AUDIENCE BOX OFFICE Stephen King remake 3rd biggest horror hit

This is a great case study to explore for getting to grips with how producers and distributors set out to target a wide audience (sometimes it's very niche, but not in this case).

Consider elements that might appeal to an underage audience (young characters: U+G identification); the usual core teen-20-something (15-24 with likelihood of some younger is common); mature adults - old school King fans or of the original movie; both genders... Consider how the King brand, It as a franchise, clown iconography, teasing costume design (and the moody lighting was also part of this, denoting a serious tone) through social media ... great case study!

Kingsman: The Golden Circle spies an opportunity at the UK box office – and grabs It

Dropping 53% in its third frame, the Stephen King adaptation It added another £2.85m at the weekend, taking the 17-day tally to £26.5m. That’s the highest ever gross for a horror film in the UK, unless you – perversely – count the supernatural Twilight franchise. It is the 11th-biggest hit of 2017 in the UK, behind Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk, Despicable Me 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, La La Land, Fast & Furious 8, Sing, The Boss Baby and The Lego Batman Movie. It should overtake at least half of those titles by the end of its run. The film covers events in the first half of King’s book and a sequel, covering events occurring 27 years later, has been announced for September 2019.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

BOX OFFICE It breaks genre record

Stephen King's It breaks highest-grossing horror record at the US box office

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

1974 slasher should get genre credit not Halloween

The point in this article is well made and well illustrated in the embedded video - if you choose to watch it be aware it features 18-rated scenes of gore.

Peeping Tom and Psycho also need referencing in any slasher history, as does Last House on the Left and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Kindergarten horror Chucky and clowns dominating 2017 releases

Scary toddlers and super creeps – helicopter parenting and the rise of 'kindergarten horror'

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CONVERGENCE UGC Slasher classics as comic books

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Blumhouse Rules of horror in 2017

Get political and have great scares: the new rules of horror movies

Monday, 20 March 2017

The scream queen directors

The female directors bringing new blood to horror films

Monday, 6 March 2017

Blumhouse $5m Indie picked up by Universal is 2017 hit

Logan is a box office mutant while Get Out stays in and Moonlight shines

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Halloween rebooted again but Friday dropped

Scare tactics: can David Gordon Green bring the slasher flick back to life?

Friday, 15 November 2013

Prominence of student work on YouTube

I've blogged previously on the growing number of made-for-fun short horror films on YouTube (especially zombie flicks), reflecting the ongoing impact of digitisation and the accessibility of digital film-making today, but its worth noting too how the battalions of Media Studies students across the land are leaving their own legacy. As students conduct research into their chosen genre before setting out to create their own genre piece, increasingly they could be accessing other students' distilled research to do so!

When doing some tagging on archive posts I came across a mention of how prominent my students' work was on YouTube search results - so, a year or so on, I had another look, and sure enough, a 'slasher openings' on YouTube (Nov 15th 2013) produced the following top results:
IGS student work came top of the pile in this search
You can help make your work more widely seen by using YouTube categories and tagging.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Martin Scorsese's Top 11 Horror Movies

There's always some publication/organisation publishing a 'top horror' list - the genre remains very popular, whilst also continuing to evolve; the likes of Saw are very different indeed from the 60s Hammer movies that briefly dominated the global horror audience!

The Guardian has indeed run a top 10 horror in 2013 (their horror microsite is here), part of a wider genre-by-genre series, but this is a little bit different: the countdown by one of the all-time greats of film-making, Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull etc!). Plus ... like Spinal Tap, he turns it up to 11!
Great article, with trailers/clips helpfully built in; his selections are firmly of the old school...

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Violent scenes

Easily the most difficult aspect of trying to create your own slasher: your earnest efforts can end up causing laughter instead of chills unless you're very careful about framing, editing, mise-en-scene/SFX and sound. Try watching almost any slasher kill/violence scene with the sound off (repeat with no pictures, sound only) and you'll quickly appreciate what a difference sound can make. That includes unsettling diegetic sound (often exaggerated), not just non-diegetic music.
This is just a placeholder post for now, something I'll add to at a later date. There's no substitute for viewing (though reading the likes of Stephen Rebello's Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho [1990], or any of the many journal/web articles devoted to this topic will certainly help) examples to boost your understanding of how filmmakers maintain verisimilitude in this central feature for slasher audiences.

Sometimes, though, there's an intentional degree of campness, even before Scream made postmodernism part of the slasher mix. The vid below (a daft vodcast ... with over 175k views) contains some examples, but its not hard to find many more on YouTube.
NB: The following vid features strong language and clips from 18-rated films featuring strong violence.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012


A couple of useful resources (I'll probably add more later) on a central feature of the genre: the franchise, with endless generally low-budget sequels, costs kept low by having few returning characters between movies able to demand higher fees (Scream was a notable exception), often treating the fanbase shoddily by selectively following the narratives of previous movies. - Good list, with each entry hyperlinked to further info - slasher franchises feature in the list - a forum's list of best 10 slashers ever, in which franchise entries feature heavily - A different approach: the 10 franchises that should have been scrapped! - a simple listing of the entries in 3 key franchises (Scream, Hwn, Fri 13th) - a blog dedicated to Halloween (there are many more out there) - the top 20 all-time slasher movies by box office features ... 20 franchise entries, which says a lot about how the genre functions - a poll and discussion about the best slasher franchise! - interesting list of best slasher killer etc - most remakes have been abysmal; here's a video comparison of the orig + remake NoESt