Budget Horror Film The Wretched Breaks Box office Records

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Movies

I have always been an Indie fan. When you do not have the money for effects, you have to depend on the story, acting, and heart. So when a small film can cut a piece into the bloated film industry, I take notice. Indie horror film The Wretched is closing toward a milestone, the top spot on box office charts for the fifth weekend in a row. It’s a rare feat that hasn’t been achieved since Marvel’s superhero juggernaut Black Panther in 2018.


However, The Wretched is one of a few movies on box office charts. But its relative dominance of a sparse field highlights what has become a winning strategy for IFC Films. At a time when Hollywood studios have delayed, amended, or scrapped plans to debut major movies, IFC Films has decided to keep release dates and continue rolling out films as scheduled. It’s allowed the company to carve out a prime piece at the few movie-going venues(most are drive-in theaters) that have been able to safely remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.


Usually, this time of year marks the start of the summer movie season, where most are the big-budget comic book adventures or sequels in popular franchises. Drive-ins on the other hand still play classics and movies that opened months before. But for fresh content, cinema owners have increasingly turned to indie titles that typically populate art houses. Drive-ins are a dying breed of the venue that was replaced by tech advanced theaters. Yet with all the technology, they can never recreate the feeling of sitting outside with friends while watching the magic of movies. 3D may be beautiful, but watching a film under a starry sky is breathtaking. Imagine watching Jason or Leatherface killing someone, but being outside. Away from the comfort and security of a steel and concrete building or in your home. The darkness of night while watching these films add terror suspense you will only find sitting at the drive-in. So if you ever get the chance, go and enjoy a night of entertainment.


So far, The Wretched, which has earned $660,000 to date. For a low-budget movie, that’s a solid result in any climate. In fact, at any other time, it would rank among the studio’s biggest earners of the year. At first, only a few drive-ins were able to serve customers. Now that some states are beginning to relax stay-at-home measures, over 150 outdoor moviegoing spaces have gotten permission from government officials to open. So now is the time to check if you may have a Drive-in opening around you. A studio like Warner Bros. can’t take chances like that because they’d lose money, even if drive-ins were packed. They make their money by showing multiple times a day for weeks. This is why outside theaters get films after they have already been released. There’s not much expected for a film like The Wretched. If it gets to $1 million, it’s like another studio getting to $100 million. Smaller studios rely heavily on mom-and-pop movie theaters, whose owners come to learn and help cultivate the indie films to get the word out about a new movie. They can’t afford the same robust marketing spends that greet Halloween or Paranormal films.


IFC has also made sure their filmmakers and actors have been closely involved with the whole process, a step that helps ensure creative talent on both sides of the camera that their films will get the same proper love and attention from the studio that would greet a traditional theatrical release. Even before cinemas across the country were forced to close to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, many indie movies had been struggling to make money in theaters. In 2019, the gap between commercial winners and losers widened dramatically. Some experts chalk that up to the explosion in popularity of streaming services, which have been a haven for the kind of horror that isn’t getting their due on the big screen. So then it’s even more notable, executives point out, that they’ve been able to make such an impression on moviegoers during this time.


Indie films are aware that drive-ins could be a short-term solution due to the unique circumstances of the pandemic. It’s a success story that may not last in a post-COVID environment. But while it lasts, I recommend you give the old Drive-in a chance. For no other reason than to see how our parents and grandparents enjoyed the movies. So bring some chairs and enjoy a movie under the stars. But be warned, it might rain.

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