Scary Business: Horror at the North American Box Office, 2006-2016

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  • Todd Platts, Piedmont Virginia Community College, United States
  • Mathias Clasen
Despite horror films representing business ventures intended to turn profit, box office analyses of the genre have remained rare in scholarly literature. Our study fills that gap through an examination of 117 horror films that reached the top 100 in domestic grosses in the North American film market in the period 2006-2016. This period saw fundamental change in Hollywood film production and the rise of low-budget studios such as Blumhouse Productions, which has become a major player in horror film production. Our study identifies ten sub-types of horror films, and using a quantitative statistical approach, we identify a strong presence of supernatural horror films in the period under discussion as well as a relatively weak presence of zombie, vampire, and torture porn films. We argue that supernatural horror films have dominated the top-grossing films in the timeframe because such films have topical resonance and are appealing to filmmakers because they are comparatively cheap to produce yet turn substantial profit on average. Moreover, we show that compared to the period 1978-2010, horror films from 2006 to 2016 increased only slightly in budgets yet increased significantly in profits. Even in rapidly changing industrial and social contexts, horror films retain a crucial place.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrames Cinema Journal
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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