September and October are usually filled with horror movies such as Friend Request, and this year is no exception. The season of horror films started off with a resounding bang thanks to Stephen King’s It, but Friend Request limped out of the gate on September 22.
Made for $9.9 million, this Facebook-inspired fright flick managed to bring in only $750,000 during its first day of release. To put this into perspective, It‘s box office receipts totaled $13.5 million after 7 p.m. on its Thursday early release; meanwhile, Friend Request had an entire Friday to rack up ticket sales.
What Sank Friend Request?
It would be easy to speculate that the abysmal results for Friend Request are merely a continuation of a year that has seen the movie industry suffer greatly. After all, the 2017 summer season had the worst total box office performance since 2006. The problem with using this excuse, though, is that it completely ignores the horror genre singlehandedly reviving ticket sales this month with It, which has already become the top-grossing scary movie of all time.
Another thing worth noting is that all six movies that came in above Friend Request managed to make more than $1 million on Friday, including the controversial Darren Aronofsky film Mother! Therefore, moviegoers didn’t stay home yesterday. They merely avoided Friend Request, instead.
The Rotten Tomatoes Factor
Rotten Tomatoes may be the main culprit behind the horror movie’s dismal opening. The aggregate review site has certified the film as rotten, with only a 20 percent fresh rating. Even worse, only 31 percent of audiences have given it a thumbs-up on the site, despite the fact that moviegoers are typically far less critical in their reviews.
It’s no longer surprising when a bad score on Rotten Tomatoes leads to box office poison. This has become so common, in fact, that many in the movie industry have spoken out against the site. Some even label it as “the worst thing” about the industry today. Director Brett Ratner opined that “it’s the destruction of our business.”
A lot of arguments can be made for or against movie critics in general, but audiences clearly want to spend their hard-earned money on higher quality films that provide more bang for their buck. When audiences and critics agree that a movie isn’t very good, it’s hard to reasonably expect it to have a strong showing at the box office. Perhaps one of the very few exceptions to this general rule was Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which made more than $474.5 million domestically despite receiving many bad reviews from fans and critics.
Next Up from the World of Horror
October will feature four wide-release horror films: Dementia 13, Happy Death Day, Leatherface, and Jigsaw. The latter two are virtually guaranteed to have a much stronger opening night than Friend Request due to being the latest chapter of their respective popular franchises. By the time the first film, Dementia 13, appears in theaters on October 6, Friend Request will probably be as long gone and forgotten as the last real-world Facebook friend request you declined.
[Featured Image by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures]