Krampus was not expected to be a huge box office hit, let alone knock Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur off its perch, but that’s exactly what has happened.
The film that Fangoria credits with not sacrificing its shocks “in the service of the PG-13 rating,” earned a surprisingly positive 3 out of 4 skulls from the horror magazine devoted to gore and shocks.
It’s rare these days for any major studio to take a chance on a horror movie for a wide scale theatrical run. Most play only the major markets and video-on-demand (VOD) in what has become a profitable business model.
But when you have a cast like Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman (Fargo), and Conchata Ferrell, studios are more inclined to spend the extra marketing dollars.
That’s a move that seems to have paid off for Legendary and Universal Pictures, which poured just $15 million into the overall project and saw first weekend box office returns of $16 million in the U.S. and an additional $3.3 million overseas, according to Box Office Mojo.
Where does this put Krampus in relation to other Christmas horror movies (a surprisingly robust sub-genre)?
Well, it’s difficult to put together an exact comparison, but just a few data points for perspective.
The Christmas horror movie craze started in full effect with Black Christmas (1974), which struggled to find footing in the U.S., though it did well in Canada and would later become a cult classic on home video and television.
It also inspired a remake of its own in 2006. That film — a considerably bloodier romp than its predecessor brought in around $16 million in the U.S. and an additional $5 million overseas for a total of $21 million. Add another $4 million in inflation-adjusted earnings, and the 2006 film scored just $25 million in its entire run.
Krampus is already enjoying a nice lift from moviegoing audiences, and it’s likely to eclipse that total over the next week.
Another standout horror movie of the sub-genre is 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, which benefitted largely from parent outrage at being one of the first (and most explicit) in the horror genre to put a killer in a Santa Claus suit before the eyes of audiences everywhere.
Silent Night, Deadly Night easily made its money back, but still only scared up north of $2 million in box office ($6 million adjusted for inflation).
Compared to these standouts, Krampus is well on its way to being the biggest Christmas horror movie in a long while, but it’s still not the most successful. Those honors would have to go to No. 1 Gremlins and No. 2 The Nightmare Before Christmas, though one could certainly make the case that these films are not straight horror.
With Gremlins, which struck a dark tone that was lightened by the presence of cute little Gizmo, audiences turned out in droves. The film earned around $148 million in its initial release. Adjusted to 2015 dollars, it now boasts more than $367 million total.
The Nightmare Before Christmas was considerably more kid-friendly than either Gremlins or Krampus, but still had the right level of mischief to place it in the Christmas horror movie sub-genre. It took in a total of $75 million in 1993, which also according to Box Office Mojo, places it at $131.7 million in domestic lifetime gross.
If you plan on taking a trip to see something scary this holiday season, Krampus tells the story of a boy who has a bad Christmas and ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home, according to IMDb.
You can check out the full trailer below.
Have you seen Krampus? How do you think it stacks up to other Christmas horror movies? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Krampus screen grab]