Horror at the Australian Box Office in 2012 - 9th February 2013


At the beginning of 2012 there was a hell of a lot of excitement about the dark genre treats waiting in store for us. Sure once again the latest Twitard was going to take top spot, removing a lot of the excitement about what would be the number one genre movie, but there was certainly plenty of other movies to get excited about. The long awaited prequel to Alien was slotted in, Ridley Scott returning to the franchise he established with Prometheus, Paranormal Activity 4 had the team anticipating where the Producers could take that franchise next, Kate Beckinsale was going head to head with Mila Jovovich, and a number of local movies were expecting cinema release. At the start of the year plans were being made and lists being drawn up for viewing involvement.

Naturally the year also kicked off with a few disappointments. World War Z was pushed back to 2013, a few scheduled horror releases got cancelled from cinema release, and local releases were short changed once again as the bogans preferred foreign flicks to Aussie ones. Once again we had a low dark genre release schedule and the ranks were forced by and largely to import from OS to get the decent movies our Distributors were too lame to handle. Surprisingly Monster, who had promised to mix it up, fall off the radar and were left seemingly licking their wounds from 2011's tussles with the Censorship board. Equally Icon appear to have run out of patience with the dark genre, and definitely weren't buying into a seat at the table in any meaningful way.

As per usual I'll attack the top ten grossing movies of the year, check out the local flicks, try and note some trends, and finish with a round up and point out my highlights in the coming year. Let's rip the tab off a tinnie and get stuck in kids.

No doubt Hoyt's were expecting The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 to go gangbusters just like that last Harry Potter flick that smashed it's previous franchise records. Hoyts did get a massive $28.5 result, but that was down on Part 1's $29 million and nowhere near the franchise highs. Clearly the age group for this franchise is growing apart from it, leaving the dubious viewing pleasure to dopey tween chicks and older women who seriously should seek some professional help sooner rather than later. I'm frankly appalled at Hollywood for making this sort of half arsed production that looks like it might cost all of $1.50 to make, and equally I'm shocked at some of the stupid Bints defending this exercise in appeasing the mentally incompetent. Anyways Hoyts opened the movie in mid November, trying to re-create the Potter magic. They managed a very solid $12.5 million opening weekend but could only manage a 2.28 multiplier as the movie slowed to a crawl pretty quickly.

Once again no one was biting on this one as to be honest the whole franchise is a poo stain on the history of cinema. Judging by the trailers it was more melodramatic bollocks that was poorly written, had shoddy production values, and well below average acting. Sorry, maybe one day we can bring ourselves to watch each of the Twilight movies, that'll be shortly after pigs take to the wing over the frozen tundra of hell. Apparently Stephenie Meyer was writing yet another book in the series, but a leak of the first few chapters exploded into the biggest laugh the internet has had in a while, and Stephenie took her Mormon arse off for a good sulking. Hey I've finished talking about the franchise that sucked the life out of the universe and various surrounding universes, happy fracking days are here again!

Back in early June Fox unleashed the anticipated Prometheus on a hungry audience, immediately won some fan approval, but hit a snag with certain Critics, and would be online Reviewers not liking what they saw. Besides some acceptable criticism, hey no movie is perfect, there were the normal idiots trying to pick logic holes in the movie, i.e. the sort of self important moron who went in to hate the movie. Apparently there were all sorts of issues with the reality of the movie, dear god in heaven do these people actually go and see movies - they are unreal by their very nature. I had an amusing time reading some of the reasons the logic was faulty, and in most cases was left with the opinion the person making the statement had the attention span of a brain damaged earthworm. Anyways the movie opened wide on 467 screens to bow to a solid $6.8 million over the opening weekend, which is blockbuster pace. A multiplier of 2.67 however was not enough to get the movie over the line and it died at $18.1 million. Still it was an awesome result for a darkly tinged outing in this Country and that bodes well for a sequel. The movie was a blockbuster on the International level and in North America, giving Fox a massive win.

The whole team decamped to catch the movie on opening night, and a few of us had a second helping of the pie over the opening weekend. Universal love for Ridley Scott's return was our verdict as the movie was analysed, put into the context of the Alien universe, and signed off on. Clearly there were a lot of other people also digging on Prometheus, suck it up haters. Oh and yes with DVD and Blu-Ray releases just prior to Christmas everyone stocked up on various disc combinations. I myself got the extended, awesomely present 2 disc Blu-ray and am still rocking out to the extras. One interesting thing that was noted with certain U.S Reviewers, they gave a reasonable write up to Breaking Dawn Part 2 but not to Prometheus, now how fracked up is that, the quote whores are certainly alive and well.

Flying into third spot the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania started badly, $1.4 million over the opening weekend, as late October proved to have a few too many options for the younger demographics. Distributor Sony held their nerve and kept the advertising coming, building an amazing 8.5 multiplier to finally realise a very solid $12 million. While that total gross amount would be considered low by animation standards, it's still a very solid dark genre result that had a few smiles happening around the bunker. Surprisingly the reviews of the movie were fair and open minded, with most Critics and Reviewers giving the flick a fair shake of the whip. Our review is coming shortly as we kind of forget to post it, oops, I'm blaming the Editor for that oversight.

Okay so a couple of us caught the movie on DVD and feeling was definitely mixed. While the animation was okay and the voice actors did the business, the humour was slightly pushed and the message coming out of the screen was high on the face palming metric. Surprised this one didn't do better as the sub text was made with the same syrup Disney pours on with gusto. While I can't say it was a disappointment, I have to say after viewing I was not surprised at the box office result.

Of course one of the exciting aspects of the year was the release of not one but two Tim Burton movies! The first cab off the rank was Dark Shadows in mid May, a movie based off the infamous television series from the 1960s and of course starring the awesomely good Johnny Depp. Given Burton had delivered a blockbuster previously with Alice anticipation was notched up a tad till the trailers started arriving. Dark Shadows opened in mid may to a very solid $3,728,805, now that's on blockbuster pace! The 2.84 multiplier was enough to deliver a $10,613,030 break out hit but nowhere near enough to trouble the blockbuster counters. Roadshow must have been disappointed with the flick running out of steam at a fairly rapid pace, but this one was never going to capture a wide spread support base.

A couple of the team caught a cinema viewing while everyone else, for differing reasons, waited on the DVD release. Nice to see everyone reaching a mutual agreement on a movie for once, and that agreement was Tim Burton's first movie of the year sucked all life out of the Universe. Yes I know it's blasphemy around these here parts, but this outing was so atrocious I had to check Burton's name was attached to it. Johnny Depp delivered a parody of his normal schlock and it simply got worse from there. To be honest, one of the worse dark genre flicks of the year, we were so disappointed in Messers Burton and Depp.

Taking out fifth spot was the by now annual Paranormal Activity excursion, for those not paying attention we're up to number four. The movie was always going to be hampered by the public apathy to dark genre franchises, though it did start with a kitchen smashing $3.56 million. The poor 2.1 multiplier meant the grand total of $7.5 million fell below expectations as PA4 proved to be all about front end load. Further hindering the flick were the Critics who seemed to universally have forgotten this was found footage schlock, not a traditional movie. I especially liked the Critics who found fault with the plot and situation, haven't you been watching and taking notes during the first three movies, part 4 delivered exactly what was expected, suck it up and get the carrot out would be my suggestion.

It's got Paranormal Activity in the title so naturally everyone caught a cinematic screening, and hid behind their popcorn in the scary parts. Actually strangely we missed getting a Cabana lounge happening going down prior to catching a screening due to the crew being in different parts of the Country in 2012. Anyways everyone had a good time, got their chill on, and grooved to the all together excellent atmosphere till the final scene, that while still freaky, made you wonder if middle class Yanks are surgically attached to their cameras. Overall a worthy additional to the mythology, the general view was we're all there for edition 5. One of those movies that proved a lot of Critics couldn't find their cinematic arses with both hands, the movie was exactly what the franchise has been producing previously and was exactly as advertised.

Cantering into sixth spot Underworld: Awakening paid back Sony's faith with a solid enough opening weekend of $2.7 million spread over a reasonable 214 screens. This was one of those movies pooh poohed by the so called experts while the critic darling The Cabin in the Woods crashed and burned. Suck it up! The movie managed a 2.27 multiplier, which showed the faithful remained with the franchise. Clearly Sony was pleased with the result a further movie has all but been announced.

A couple of us caught this one at the cinema to show our support for Kate Beckinsale, and we both had a pretty good time. While the movie isn't the strongest in the franchise it still had enough action to keep us rocking, oh and Kate in tight leathers death dealing to excellent results. I'm not entirely sure what exactly people expect from these movies, they are pretty much what they are, take it or leave it, but for Christ's sake stop acting like a pork chop over it. Am already anticipating the next movie, the ending to Awakening rocked the house down.

Kate definitely had the box office edge over Milla in 2012 as Resident Evil: Retribution started slowly and didn't fully recover as it took the seventh spot for highest gross dark genre flicks of the year. Sony decided on a mid September release date for the zombie orientated action feature, rebooted the Red Queen, and took $1.4 million across 175 screens on the movie's opening weekend. The 2.74 multiplier was good enough, but due to the low opening weekend the final gross dropped just over $3.9 million. That's still bloody good for a dark genre flick, and in particular a zombie outing. Once again another franchise clearly has one more movie in the tank, and judging from results that movie will get made in a couple of years.

Once again only a couple of us caught this one, really must talk to some people about their priorities. Hey we had to support Milla Jovovich, especially since she went to the trouble of putting on tight leathers for some Kate style death dealing. While both of us enjoyed the movie, it was the worse in the franchise thus far. Something wasn't working this time round, more attention needed to be given to the script which was pretty superficial considering the intriguing premise. Still we got our ticket price worth and are chomping at the bit to go catch the next instalment.

Early in August one of the worse named titles of the year hit cinemas in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the crew were intrigued. It sounded like a bad Asylum movie, The Asylum would in fact rush Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies at us later in the year, but the trailers were surprisingly entertaining. The movie opened solidly enough to $1.15 million but a low 2.16 multiplier could only deliver a $2.5 million result to Distributor Fox. While Fox didn't pull any punches in early advertising they did let the ball drop in later weeks as Abe fought cinematic oblivion.

A few of us caught the movie, hey we'll pay good movie for schlock, and had a reasonable time of it. While Abe certainly had a fairly unique premise the actually movie didn't deliver much beyond standard Vampire fare. To be honest a DVD viewing would have been a far better option, but that title lured us in with its siren call. No doubt since the movie was successful we can look forward to more historic figures fighting various monsters, I want John Howard to go down fighting gay slime monsters, now there's a movie I would pay good money to see.

Way back in February Icon entered the fray with the Liam Neeson lead The Grey, an exercise in going dramatic with CGI. The movie opened to a shockingly low $786K but did recover with a very solid 3.1 multiplier realising an acceptable $2.4 million in total gross. The movie was clearly promoted heavily via Neeson being splashed on all the posters and adverts, but strangely Icon failed to lift the anticipation that this might be one for a more older demographic than horror's traditional teen hunting grounds. I have to say Icon really dropped the ball on this one, the trailers were pretty lacking in action to say the least, and gave away the conflict without attempting to jazz things up in the slightest.

Surprisingly none of the crew took a bite at this one, and to date no one has shown the slightest interest in sending in a review. Guess one of those movies that simply didn't find any traction in the face of perceived superior offerings. No doubt someone will get to the movie at some stage in the future, but heck pretty piss poor marketing effort Icon when a horror site isn't overly interested!

Tim Burton's second attempt at box office glory in 2012 came in late October via the animated outing Frankenweenie, distributed surprisingly by the folk over at Disney. While I was expecting some decent cinematic action the black and white presentation apparently put people off. The movie opened late October to a shockingly bad $518k over a decent enough 213 screens and looked to be headed for disaster for the House of Mouse. Word of mouth kicked in however and Disney red faces were saved by a 3.4 multiplier that still delivered a poor $2 million final total. It's probably an indication of how weak the dark genre is at the moment that Frankenweenie managed tenth spot on the table for the year.

Another movie the team universally failed to catch, dear god in heaven we need to work on our priorities. In my own defence I had planned to catch this one with Robbo, and then toss a coin as to who would review. However the movie disappeared from our local cinemas before we got a chance to catch it. Yet another example of the regions showing inane comedies to the lowest common denominator and disregarding the more cinematically aware in our neck of the woods. Mind you given some of the knob ends living off Government hand outs here abouts, the cinema chains are probably correct in their assumptions. On the bright side the DVD hits shelves this month so for sure we'll be catching up with this lost 2012 dark genre movie.


Two local movies got a wide release in 2012, continuing the exemplary trend of promotion of dark genre outings from this part of the world. For no apparent reason Paramount went ape shit with 283 screens for shark attack flick Bait, what the hell were those folk chumming into their drinks when that decision was made! Naturally the movie went down quicker than an extra off a shark infested beach the Mayor refuses to close with the opening weekend drowning to the tune of $367K. The movie did manage to get its act together and deliver $908K, but talk about your train wreck. In one of those moments that tend to add to the SMinds' general mirth, Director Kimble Rendall was incensed his movie got the bums rush at the 2012 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts gong night. Apparently Bait has managed to make $40 million internationally, by far out pacing any other local flick, and this should have been somehow given an award!?! Kimble dude, take a reality pill, you made a teen orientated shark attack movie, exactly what award were you expecting beyond the "most sharks in a supermarket" award, if one existed. Equally no one gives a flying frack about the Australian Academy, they manage to make the Seppo one look like the height of critical awareness.

Also gaining a guernsey for the local industry was the joint Aussie, Finnish, German collaboration, Iron Sky. On a limited release schedule of 45 screens the movie managed an opening weekend of $123K and a total gross of $227K. Before you laugh, that outstripped Horror Critic favourite The Cabin in the Woods, said movie didn't fool any Aussies really. To date the Director of Iron Sky has not had a dummy spit over not getting nominated for anything, we applaud Timo Vuorensola for his grasp on reality.

Okay so what didn't do as well as expected? Leading the pack of disasters was The Cabin in the Woods, though to be honest distributor Roadshow demonstrated a complete mis-reading of the market on this one. I think the problem stemmed from movies such as Drag Me To Hell not performing as well as the Internet experts thought they would. Roadshow definitely demonstrated a gun shy approach with the movie, though looking at the figures the movie was always destined to be an also run. What Distributors haven't yet realised is that genre attracted folk talk a good talk on the interwebs, but those doing so aren't really the core demographics. Like most genres, the people that front up to the box office week in week out generally don't spend all their lives hanging out at horror forum sites. A quick phone call around the team, and we're talking six people who live and breathe the dark genre from morning till night, could confirm that no one belongs to a forum movie site let alone a forum horror site. Between us we might watch upwards of twenty horror flicks per week, but no one feels the need to deal with juveniles on any of the horror sites.

Back to the topic at hand, two other movies failed to achieve their potential during the year. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was expected to roll out another genre hit during the year but fell flat on its arse with a $1.6 million result. Seems not all comic book adaptations do so well if they don't involve central characters wearing their undies over the top of their tights, I'll leave the reader to determine the homoerotic connotations there. The first Ghost Rider movie did okay while driving through some pretty bad criticism, which the second movie clearly paid the price for. I can't see this franchise extending to a third movie, another salient lesson showing Nicky Cage rakes up as many disasters as he does hits. Also disappointing me personally was the newly resurrected Hammer's remake The Woman In Black starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, which failed to do anything much resulting in a train wreck for Roadshow. Considering the movie is a remake of a cult classic and is a ghost story to boot, it's pretty hard to understand what went wrong here. I'm thinking the non Yank label did Hammer in, the teen and bogan demographics slavishly follow Hollywood's lead just like the sheep they are. A Brit period drama simply doesn't cut the ice with these people, not enough car chases or CGI nastiness perhaps.

About the only trend I was seeing through 2012, besides the general decline in dark genre options, was the continued hitting of the demonic possession flick. We got two, the aforementioned Paranormal Activity 4 and the grossly underrated The Devil Inside. Both movies were also found footage efforts, which would indicate a merge of the two sub-genres into something the box office would do well to take notice of. Looking ahead demonic possession is going to be in vogue in 2013 with at least the remake of Evil Dead, The Last Exorcism 2 (if you think about that title for a moment your head will explode), and Paranormal Activity 5 all scheduled for release. No doubt the odd Indie effort might get a limited run as well. So possession fans are going to be well catered for.

Gorenography continues to be a non-event in this part of the world. Folks with attention spans will remember films from the likes of Eli Roth crashing in flames Downunder. I'm almost always intrigued by the sites who think they are cutting edge horror who equate "torture porn", as the Yanks call it, with anything remotely called horror. Do these people actually get out and talk to general horror fans or do they spend all their time cloistered with their equally juvenile mates discussing the latest gorenography treat that does nothing put support the misconceptions of the opponents of our beloved genre? Anyways, and to avoid another soap box, that little excursion into the territory of the lowest common denominator has effectively burned out in most markets.

Strangely animated movies have been hitting the dark drum recently, Hollywood running out of ideas? The syrupy Hotel Transylvania, the awesomely conceived Frankenweenie, and the above average ParaNorman (held off to 2013), all hitting cinemas recently. Besides allowing us to get our inner child out into the light of day, and for some out of the cage in the basement, its perhaps good to see a new generation of horror fans being germinated amongst the unwitting parental units who don't get censorship ratings. I'm not seeing a lot of animation coming at us in 2013, strangely these sorts of developments come in waves, but 2012 had a bumper crop. Of course the box office results aren't all that conducive to a Studio spending mucho dollars on the production cost of a full length animated scary movie, so another couple of years till the low attention span of Hollywood suits till the next one then.

The local industry keeps making and sending forth dark genre efforts, generally to the apathy of the bogan Aussie flag waving demographics. It never ceases to amaze me that the sort of people with bumper stickers stating "F**k off we're full" on the back windows of their rusted out Excels claim Aussie movies are boring and rush on mass to the latest Boredwood half arsed effort. Apparently supporting multimillion dollar backed crap Yank horror flicks is the way to go in the face of tightly budgeted local product, must be a requirement of getting the New Start Allowance; that would be the dole to you and me Russ. Frighteningly I'm not noting an increase in the support base for locally made horror, blaming the likes of Roadtrain and Prey for the situation, which doesn't send me photos of lights at the end of the tunnel. Come on people get out there and support your own movie Industry, we're making better movies than a butt load of Boredwood efforts any day of the week.

So I had some good times, some bad times, a lot of disappointments, and watched a whole lot of movies in 2012. Business as usual really, and no the lustre hasn't been removed from approaching a whole new dark genre year. Horror can never die folks, it just retreats from time to time.

So what am I getting all excited about in the coming year? - glad you asked citizen. Strangely am looking forward to Hansel and Gretal, I'm always up for a movie that prides itself on action over counting angels on pins. I'm going to commit heresy and admit that I'm anticipating a remake, of Evil Dead in fact. And if you think that's bad I'm also lusting after some sequels, The Last Exorcism 2, Silent Hill 2, Scary Movie 5, and of course Paranormal Activity 5. Added bonus for me during the year will be World War Z, possibly The Bay, and of course Sinister. No doubt there's going to be a whole bunch of movies to add, and I'm not even over the releases from this part of the World, though I'm not exactly seeing heavy advertising for anything. Fingers crossed there, but you can't say you aren't being catered to in 2013, I'm excited, but then again I'm nearly always excited by a new year and the banquet on offer for those with a dark nature. Catch you down the ticket queue, hey what's coming out on DVD?