From Nanny winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of 2022 to Nope and Smile generating more than $100 million at the domestic box office, it’s clear that horror movies have been successful in the past year. With Parrot Analytics’ demand data, we can track audience interest in horror movies throughout the year and see which killer had the bloodiest laugh.
In the United States, almost a fifth of the Top 100 most-in-demand movies released in 2022 were horror titles.
In a period where movie genres have become more fluid and creators are experimenting with blurring the lines between genres, it was notable that 19 out of the Top 100 most-in-demand titles released in 2022 had horror at the center of the narrative.
From 2021 to 2022 the share of horror movies represented in the 100 most in-demand films of the year increased by +36%, reaching the highest share for the genre in the past 4 years. In 2022, horror got back to a similar baseline as 2019, in a pre-pandemic period where movies such as Us and Glass generated an outstanding demand in the US.
This increase could also be related to the unique suitability of horror movies for theatrical release as audiences look for the shared experience of being spooked in a dark theater. In a recent analysis, Julia Alexander, Director of Strategy at Parrot Analytics, mentioned that “horror sees the most return in opening weekend box office revenue compared to production budgets”. The return of what looks like a more normal life after a pandemic might have helped horror gain traction among audiences returning to theaters, with almost all horror titles in the top 100 having a theatrical release.
Sequels, reboots, and adaptations oh my! - the horror genre is not safe from Hollywood’s obsession with rehashing IP.
The most-in-demand horror movie in 2022 was The Black Phone, based on the Joe Hill story of the same name. The movie, about a 13-year-old trying to survive after being abducted by a child killer, had an exceptional demand in the United States, with 33 times more demand than the average title.
Two sequels completed the podium, Scream (2022), which was launched 11 years after Scream 4, and Ti West’s Pearl, which was launched only 6 months after X. Both had an outstanding demand, more than 20 times higher than the average title. X also ranked among the top 10 most in-demand movies for the year. New releases from both franchises are already scheduled for 2023, with Scream 6 already seeing a boost in demand after the first trailer was released in December.
Nope, Smile, and Barbarian were all truly original stories that managed to succeed without being based on existing IP. These movies not only had a theatrical release but were ultimately profitable. Barbarian stands out with a worldwide box office 10 times higher than its production budget. During its peak on Halloween, the movie reached the overall Top 5 most in-demand titles released in 2022, behind only blockbusters from DC and Marvel, and Top Gun: Maverick.
What we can expect from horror in 2023
With M3gan, Scream 6, Knock at the Cabin, and Evil Dead Rise set to have a theatrical release at the beginning of 2023, the horror genre doesn’t look like it will lose momentum any time soon. Although psychological horrors have stood out in recent years, slashers look poised to fight (or stab) their way to the top.
M3gan already started the year with remarkable achievements for horror movies. After positive critical reviews and a viral marketing campaign, the film had a $30 million opening weekend - already over twice as much as its $12 million estimated budget. Here at Parrot, we’ve already been tracking a consistent demand since M3gan's official trailers, which grew days prior to the release date, an early indicator of audience interest in the movie.
Among franchises, it isn’t uncommon to see that a new release boosts the previous movies’ demand. Taking the Scream franchise as an example, the first movies saw growth in demand after the release of the newest one. The first and the last Scream movies had the highest demand throughout the year. After the beginning of the Scream 6 promotion, we saw another jump in demand for 2022’s Scream.
Among talent, it is worth highlighting Jenna Ortega’s breakout year working with horror. Jenna starred in Scream 5 and X and ended the year with the Netflix record-breaking series Wednesday. Being the new face of these successful titles boosted the actress’ popularity across the world. At the end of the year, Jenna was the sixth most-in-demand talent in the world. In her domestic market, the American actress was the fifth most in-demand talent overall and the #1 most in-demand actor at her peak demand last year.
Horror movies have moved beyond being a seasonal genre, having the chance to be a hit with audiences in different months of the year and telling stories with different approaches. With demand, we can continue to track what jump scares will be the most successful in 2023, and which talent could have a potential breakthrough moment because of them.