Crimson Peak opened the Halloween horror movie season. Scary movie junkies wait for October every year, and Crimson Peak was one of the most anticipated horror flicks of this year. Unfortunately, while costing a whopping $55 million, the film managed to gross only $12.6 million on its opening weekend, Variety reports. This is unwelcome news to Universal, which is distributing the movie, and Legendary Pictures, which financed the project.
So what happened? Guillermo del Toro’s anticipated “horror flick,” Crimson Peak, has been reviewed fairly well by Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, but it didn’t get the critical love bestowed on past dark films such as Pan’s Labyrinth. Some believe this is because the Gothic horror film focused largely on romance, centering around a love story as opposed to traditional horror scares. Others believe it was a matter of Crimson Peak not having the right fan base at the right time. While ’tis the season for scary movies, it was the weekend for family-friendly flicks, too.
This week’s big box-office winner was Goosebumps, starring Jack Black and based on the 90s book series of the same name. Goosebumps is rated PG and is designed to be a kid-centric, family-friendly film. While Crimson Peak was targeted at an adult audience with its R-rating (for bloody violence, some sexual content and brief strong language), Goosebumps targeted a much more inclusive audience.
Crimson Peak is also largely considered a “niche” flick. Its ideal audience is going to be adults — those not offended by the R-rating or associated sex and gore and willing to spend nearly 2 hours (1 hour 59 minutes, to be exact) getting to the heart of a story-line more romantic than scary. Because of Crimson Peak’s more narrow niche and mid-month release, it simply had a hard time reaching audiences.
One more factor that impacted the Crimson Peak “flop” is that it was released alongside some big crowd-drawing films. In addition to Goosebumps, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies opened this week. It brought in $15.4 million. The WWII era spy flick stars Tom Hanks. It’s also targeted at an adult audience, and likely stole some of the Crimson Peak thunder. Getting Spielberg and Hanks together usually gets the audience opening their wallets.
While the relatively few “fans” didn’t seem inclined to spend their cash checking out Crimson Peak, those who did seemed to like it. For the most part, at least. Most professional reviewers were less than kind. Without giving too much away, those at Forbes thought Crimson Peak gave too much away too soon. Essentially, the reviewer felt like the audience was waiting for the characters to catch up with something the audience had already figured out. It was reported on as being a disappointing kind of suspense.
Indeed, one of the biggest complaints is that the story is a bit too easy to figure out. The surprise isn’t all that surprising in Crimson Peak, and the almost-two-hours too long to wait for something the audience has seen coming in the first 20 minutes. Despite beautiful visuals, people are largely left twiddling their thumbs in “anticipation.”
If you do decide to go check out Crimson Peak between now and Halloween, remember that not even del Toro himself ever called it a “horror” movie. Despite marketing ploys that lead fans to see it as such, he’s been quoted as saying Crimson Peak is nothing of the sort.
“Crimson Peak is not a horror movie but it has more to the tone of a fairytale or a gothic romance, sort of a female-centric tale, than Haunted Mansion which is a ride and has to be fun and scary in a Disney way. This has more to do with Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, Dragonwyck.”
Like some reviewers have already clarified, Crimson Peak isn’t supposed to be horror. You might get some scares, some Gothic darkness, but this isn’t supposed to be traditionally scary. If you take it for what it is, you just might love it. Or, you just might want to save your Crimson Peak ticket/popcorn money for the DVD.
[Image courtesy of Grant Lamos IV / Getty Images]