The Rotten Truth: Fright Night Tanked, What Happened?

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Audiences may be suffering from remake, vampire fatigue

In spite of the Fright Night remake tracking poorly, everyone seemed surprised that it floundered at the box office, opening with an $8.3 million. That’s counting Thursday night screenings.

Ouch, right? For those involved in this redo of the ’85 film, I’m sure it hurts worse than a vamp siphoning blood through a garden hose jammed down their jugular. So, what does it all mean? Oh no! Is horror dead? Should we all be screaming that another genre doomsday is near? Let’s be realistic. If you’ve read previous Rotten Truth columns, I’m consistently saying that the genre will never die. It goes through waves and so on and so on. I’m not going to repeat myself here. In all honesty, I never expected the audiences to latch on to Fright Night.

For one, the film doesn’t carry the name recognition as such titles like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That’s what studios remaking films are going for, right? Name value. How many times have you read an interview with a producer where he/she confidently said the brand of an older horror film was too good to not remake? Perhaps producers are realizing this, or they’re not, but name recognition doesn’t seem to be working any more. And that’s not a slam against the original, superior Fright Night. The original opened at number three in ’85, grossed just over $20 million during its theatrical run and spawned a sequel. But the name Fright Night hardly carries the weight of other horror mammoths. Mention it to a casual movie fan and Fright Night takes some time to creep into their memory, and that memory of the film is often accompanied with fondness. That fondness wasn’t strong enough to drive folks into the theater.

But, then again, it had a vampire in it and vampires are “hot” right now, right? Well, sort of. I’m beginning to suspect audiences are only interested in one type of bloodsucker right now. And if they’re not attached to Twilight or True Blood then they don’t want it. Let Me In, last year’s vampire underperformer, certainly backs this up. Priest‘s tepid $30 million domestic gross earlier this summer back that up.

3D and an R rating could be cited as other key players in Fright Night‘s performance, but I think those aforementioned larger issues affected the release. Perhaps this will open the eyes of development execs standing before a dart board of titles to remake next. One can always hope.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor

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Weekend: Dec. 5, 2019, Dec. 8, 2019

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