When it comes to horror movies at the box office, Sony revived its record last weekend with the opening of Blumhouse/Stage 6 Films’ fifth film. Undercover: The Red Door which had one 32.65 million dollars internal opening, 64 million dollars Worldwide debut.
On the domestic front, this is Sony’s second best horror opening since 2004 Resentment which debuted to $39.1 million. It’s also the second-best domestic debut for a single Secretly movie after Chapter 2opening of $40.2 million. Even more amazing, this 13-year-old horror franchise stole the thunder at no. 1 of the continuing Disney/Lucasfilm legacy Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny which only made $26.5 million in its second weekend.
While pre-pandemic Sony had horror sleepers such as Don’t Breathe AND Escape Room, part of Culver City wasn’t reaping the riches of the post-Covid genre like Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. Now, Sony has posted a US/Canada release with a PG-13 rating The Red Door surpassing the debuts of several post-2020 horror pictures, some of them R-rated, including bawl ($30 million), M3GAN ($30.4 million), Smile ($22.6 million) and Dead evil rises ($24.5 million). For Blumhouse, The Red Door it is her 16th title to open at #1.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group originally bought the North American rights at the start Secretly (which was made for a reported $900K) from TIFF Midnight Madness in 2010 as Deadline first reported. Despite the financial commitment at the time, the studio didn’t believe in the picture enough to handle US/Canada theatricals. So they ended up doing a distribution deal with Film District to release the state. Film District handled the first two pictures until the distributor was absorbed by Universal’s Focus Features. Sony had foreign (except UK and Spain) in Secret 2 AND 3. ACTIvE Insidious: The Last Key, Sony acquired all foreign rights, plus full ownership of the IP, also with Universal handling the title. The last key was big by low-budget standards at the BO with a $29.5M opening, $67.7M domestic and $167M-plus global tally. from The Red DoorSony realized it had to make a complete comeback insidious, thus they acquired all global rights and co-financed most of the picture’s reported $16 million production cost.
James Wan, who directed the first two films, came up with the idea for it The Red Door to Blumhouse in 2018 to keep the franchise alive with another string that includes the Lamberts’ son Dalton, who starred in Undercover 1, 2, AND 4. The idea was to reunite all the original actors, including Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Simpkins, Secretly architect Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye. Wilson was able to accomplish that feat and assemble the cast, with Aquaman the actor making his directorial debut here.
Sony committed passionately to the film: Chairman and CEO of the Film Group, Tom Rothman, cheekily chose the date of the daring theatrical release in the middle Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and ahead of Tom Cruise’s expected summer box office hit, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning on July 12. It takes cajones for a studio to follow up on a big Disney movie, ala Marvel or Lucasfilm. Meanwhile, I hear that Sony co-president Josh Greenstein was confident that the studio could take the fifth installment to a big opening. However, Sony and Blumhouse’s previous track record wasn’t quite as bright: Fantasy Island a month before Pandemic opened to $12.3 million and exploded to $27.3 million domestically, while handicraft the reboot was a victim of the pandemic and was released across the board. This time, the creative partnership between Blumhouse and Sony was significantly improved and closer.
However, the first cut of The Red Door it looked lackluster and needed to be threatened with the filmmakers looking to push the release. For Blumhouse, Secretly was a vital franchise that grossed over $542 million WW; was one of their cornerstones along with Paranormal activity, evil AND Cleaning that they built their model and their reputation on low-budget films where the director and actors reap the post-theatrical benefits. They couldn’t fail here with a fan favorite sequel. Rothman remained firm on the theater date. When it comes to making a movie work at the box office, more than the stars, it’s the release date. Secretly writer Leigh Whannell got under the hood and worked with Wilson in Atlanta, GA to make The Red Door scary razor with reshoots.
Then came marketing under Greenstein. Every great theatrical horror movie needs a gimmick to cause shockwaves (ie those crazy people who smile at sporting events for smile, android girls dancing tournaments for M3GAN and the charming girl who turns into a monster on Chatroulette for the 2010s The Last Exorcism).
Sony had What’s Behind the Red Joke. Their team created several outdoor and digital stunts using a location in Hollywood where they scared people and tourists on the street by luring them to the red door. At that moment they are met by the infamous lipstick demon. Sony enlisted the support of social media influencers Brent Rivera and Ben Azelart. The creators shot their custom prank videos on location in Hollywood and posted them to their 90 million followers on TikTok and Instagram.
There were also six real-life physical red doors built across major US cities (Los Angeles, New York and Chicago) and behind each door the team commissioned different street artists to paint a custom mural inspired by the film . The public was encouraged to visit the doors (scavenger hunt style) not only to see the art, but to discover a second Secretly surprise- a code word to send a message and join an SMS program to get tickets to see the movie in the cinema.
Rivals believe that The Red Door has the potential to intimidate the best domestic transport for one Secretly movie, surpassing Chapter 2A high of $83.5 million.
Even if it falls short, it will still be the horror picture of the summer and proves once again how Blumhouse can make the low-budget genre work in a post-Covid tentacled world.