The Purge: Election Year may not have hit the No. 1 slot at the box office in its opening weekend, but it would be difficult to call the film anything less than a financial smash.
For a few years now, the quiet, cheaply made horror franchise has developed a bit of a following with a long string of successes to justify future sequels.
While Finding Dory repeated its successful run with a third straight week as the country’s No. 1 movie, The Purge: Election Year came in at No. 3 behind the Pixar film and the much more expensively made The Legend of Tarzan.
According to Box Office Mojo numbers, The Purge: Election Year was made for just $10 million — a small sum considering most summer fare.
Stack that up against a hefty $30.87 million domestic take and an addition $130,000 in limited markets, and you’ve got a part three that has already more than tripled the amount that it cost to produce.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 3, 2016
By comparison, The Legend of Tarzan pulled in $56 million worldwide for week number one, making it rather difficult for it to recoup its $180 million production budget.
In order to do so, the film will have to play strongly in the next several weeks, and that is unlikely if you look at the 35 percent “Rotten” score from professional critics and 74 percent mild acceptance among the fan community at Rotten Tomatoes. While it could get one or two more respectable weeks, that production budget is a large number to overcome.
Further illustrating the success of The Purge: Election Year is the failure of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG.
That film cost $140 million to produce, and after week one, it has a global take of just $23.4 million. Granted, The BFG has not gotten a broad release into foreign markets at this time, but neither has The Purge: Election Year, and the U.S. take for The BFG is likely to be as high as it gets moving forward.
It is extremely rare for a violent horror film to outdo the guy who gave the world Indiana Jones and Jaws, but, as the saying goes, the numbers don’t lie.
So what is the secret to The Purge franchise’s success?
— The Verge (@verge) July 3, 2016
In short, it’s not trying to recreate the wheel. Horror films enjoyed something of a golden age in the 1930s, the 1950s, and the 1980s, with a brief resurgence in the late 1990s thanks to the release of the original Scream.
However, the genre has been widely accepted among young filmmakers pretty much non-stop.
That’s because horror films can be made quickly and cheaply, and with advances in motion picture technology, the speed and affordability has only increased.
By the standards of most horror fare, The Purge: Election Year is considered an expensive horror film, and it barely crested $10 million.
The original Halloween was made for just $220,000 and grossed the 2016 equivalent of $172 million.
Today, films like those in The Purge series can be churned out every one to two years and as long as the idea is kept simple and the budget light, they are one strategic release date away from keeping the profit mill churning.
The original film grossed $89 million worldwide on a budget of just $3 million; Purge: Anarchy grossed almost $112 million on a budget of $9 million. If the current trend continues, The Purge: Election Year will be the most successful film in the series, thus guaranteeing a Purge 4.
The series is following in the steps of the Saw films, with all seven parts made for a combined total of $70 million, yet grossing around $900 million worldwide.
With that as a precedent, expect for The Purge to be around for quite some time. But what do you think, readers? Does the world need more of these movies, and what did you think of The Purge: Election Year? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Universal Pictures]