The Rotten Truth: Scream 4 Performance Analysis & What Does the Future Hold?

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What happened to the audience?

The doomsday talk surrounding Scream 4 (review) is fascinating to me, not just as a fan but now as someone who has documented the franchise in-depth. In the wake of the Easter holiday – the sequel’s second weekend in which it dropped a little over 60% at the box office and grossed an estimated $7 million – headlines this morning declared Scream 5 “unlikely” and reported the fourth chapter continues to underperform. To date, it has made $31 million domestically, an estimated $48.9 million worldwide.

No, that’s not great. Especially considering they were hoping for a $40 million opening gross and early estimates for the opening weekend placed it at $30 million (it wound up making just over $18 million). That’s also not great considering the fan anticipation. And let me emphasize the fan right there, because if there was any anticipation from the general movie-going public, there probably would have been a greater turnout for the sequel’s debut, right? Regardless of how the final film turned out, one had to question where the audience went and why it didn’t do better in those opening three days.

The advance mixed reviews likely didn’t help. Opening against Rio – an animated family film – proved to be a difficult task as well. Also, a generation that had grown up on Scream seemed to have aimed a leery eye at being drawn into a “fourth” chapter and moved on.

In a conversation I had earlier today with two close friends, one brought up the fact that the new film’s performance pales in comparison to the original trilogy. I like to believe those first three films had gained a certain level of box office momentum, taking advantage of the fact that horror was so weak in the ‘90s. Scream found its legs through word-of-mouth in 1996. The sequel was a hit one year later and fed off of the success of its predecessor; and although the face of horror was changing yet again in 1999 – 2000 (from slashers to the supernatural with The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense), Scream 3 opened strongly because it was touted as the final chapter. That, and audiences were so over-saturated with Scream rip-offs, they wanted to see the real deal one last time. I think for many people who saw those films in their opening run, Scream 4 seemed unnecessary, in spite of the “new decades, new rules” marketing push. And let’s not rule out things on the creative end. Scream 4 looked like “business as usual,” which worked for some, but not others.

Looking at a younger generation, those who may have seen the original trilogy their first time on VHS or DVD, I have to wonder: Has a decade filled with remakes and the Saw franchise deflated their interest in Scream? Just the other day, while out on a set visit, an intern, likely in her early-’20s, struck up the following conversation with me:

Intern: [seeing a bus drive by with Ghost Face plastered across the side of it] So, has that Scream movie come out yet?

Me: Yeah, it’s been out a week.

Intern: What’s the deal with it?

Me: What do you mean?

Intern: Who’s in it?

Me: It’s got a young new cast, but the original trio are back.

Intern: Like who?

Me: You mean the originals? David, Courteney and Neve…

Intern: Oh, they were in the originals, too?

Somewhere along the way, I think Dimension Films made it a point to market more towards the older Scream viewers when it should have been focusing on the younger audience that was raised on The Ring, 28 Days Later, Hostel and Saw and, perhaps, needed a re-education as to what Scream is all about.

Just my two cents.

Where does Scream 5 fall into the picture then? Is its future full of doom and gloom? Not likely. I don’t think Dimension will let the franchise fizzle out. Yes, you can look at the numbers and say, “They’ll never green light a sequel off of that box office gross,” but look at Piranha 3D. That film only made $25 million domestic (even more overseas), yet a sequel is on the way. Plus, you have to factor in Scream 4‘s foreign box office and future DVD/Blu-Ray sales. Hell, it might do better in the latter market. And if it does, you can surely count on another chapter.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor

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Weekend: Aug. 22, 2019, Aug. 25, 2019

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