Monday, November 9, 2015

Crimson Peak: What Went Wrong

If you enjoyed the grandeur of Guillermo del Toro's gothic haunted house film Crimson Peak, you were probably in the minority and will likely not see a film like this again. In my review, I called it a once in a generation type of film because a big budget opus with top tier cast in a Hollywood horror event film rarely comes along. Crimson Peak's dismal box office literally put the last nail in the coffin. Budgeted at $55 million, it made just over $29 million in 4 weeks of release.

An article at Forbes breaks down the further embarrassing details, including a list of cheap, forgettable movies that made more money on opening weekend: The Messengers, One Missed Call, The Eye, Darkness Falls, Stay Alive and The Rite. Yikes. So what when wrong? The article dissects the problems astutely:

1. A high concept film. Period films – that are not prestige Oscar bait – rarely do well with audiences. Add to that the gothic romance part that seems to discourage diehard horror movie fans. It struggled to find the right audience.

2. Early reviews. There's film festivals for people who love genre films, and there's the local newspapers who typically hate genre films. Fantastic Fest audiences loved the film but their reviews were embargoed until local newspaper reviewers could see the film. As a result potential audiences saw the local newspapers negative reviews first before the distributor could release the more favorable reviews.

3. The director's social blunder. Guillermo del Toro's 2-week social media blasts where he stressed that it wasn't a horror film was certainly off-putting for me – and I'm a diehard fan! Imagine what it did to mainstream movie audiences who don't understand what a gothic romance is or that del Toro doesn't know how to speak in a common denominator to the masses? This movie was a classic horror film through and through.

4. Geeks don't bring in bucks. The director, the stars, the concept though geared to a very specific audience seemed to have broader appeal on paper but surprisingly it didn't entice mainstream audiences who preferred the kid-friendly Goosebumps and Hotel Transylvania 2. The "R" rating kept away the lucrative teen market who devours horror films, although given the subject matter, I can't imagine teens lining up to see this anyway. Crimson Peak is a film for adults who love the genre and I'm guessing most of them are waiting for home viewing.