Friday, June 20, 2008

What's happening with The Happening?

A post at Defamer points out that despite the overwhelmingly negative reviews, The Happening has made more than $70 million worldwide in seven days. With a production budget of only $60 million and still some box office gross to capture--not to mention future DVD sales and rentals, the somewhat disappointing latest entry from the director who, as one commenter on this blog pointed out, will forever be known as "the director of The Sixth Sense."

So why all the box office moolah for what is less than a worthy way to spend $10 and 1.5 hours of ones time? Here's my guesses:

1. Good movies don't always do good box office and vice versa. If they did, crap like 10,000 B.C. would never have grossed almost $100 million while the sweet, well-crafted confection of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day should have earned 10 times its $12 million.

2. The M. Night factor certainly played into it. Fans of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and perhaps Signs are still holding out hope that Shyamalan can get his act together and deliver another great movie. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer...

3. The final reason is perhaps the most likely of all: the genre. By shooting a horror movie, Shyamalan definitely deliver less for more. I'm not a big horror movie fan--too squeamish to watch all that blood. But while there are some really well-done movies in that genre--The Exorcist for example--most are schlock shock meant to fill an audience's taste for gore. And The Happening has gore galore. Not as much as say the Saw series, but there are enough grisly deaths to satisfy those who are entertained by pain.

Think about it: most horror movies are generally panned by critics, not noted for great acting, have implausible plots and predictable outcomes--and yet Hollywood keeps producing them because they're low budget and people flock to see them despite their badness. As far as the horror equation goes--if you kill it, they will come.

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