Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 08-20-12

Stars of “The Apparition” – Ashley Greene & Sebastian Stan

Stars of “The Apparition” – Ashley Greene & Sebastian Stan

“The Apparition” – In theaters August 24th

“The Apparition” – In theaters August 24th

Behind the scenes with director Todd Lincoln

Behind the scenes with director Todd Lincoln

Hollywood horror: Hollywood’s been making horror movies since the early silent days and there’s only one reason for that – moviegoers like being scared!

The first screen adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” was produced in 1910 by Edison Studios and directed by J. Searle Dawley. Its uncredited cast – stars were still in Hollywood’s future – included Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster and Mary Fuller as the Doctor’s fiancé. The silent black & white film, which runs about 13 minutes, can be downloaded free on YouTube.

“Frankenstein” has, of course, endured as one of Hollywoodldquo;s best known horror franchises. Its most famous episode is Universal’s 1931 “Frankenstein,” directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff as the laboratory created Monster.

Horror series like “Frankenstein,’ “Dracula” (Universal’s 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi as the vampire Count Dracula) and “The Mummy” (Universal’s 1932 classic starring Boris Karloff as the mummified Egyptian Prince Imhotep, who’s accidentally brought back to life – which will be available on Netflix starting Sept. 1) literally helped keep the lights on at Universal Studios in the '30s because they were inexpensive to produce and had a built-in audience that could be depended on to buy tickets.

The same formula holds true today and explains why there’s almost always a new horror film on the boxoffice horizon. The secret is making these films on low budgets – it helps that they don’t need big star casting to drive them at the boxoffice – and being sure to have stories targeted to under-25 females, the core audience in recent years for horror films.

People who aren’t movie marketers often find that hard to believe because they think men are most likely to enjoy horrific or ultra-scary films. Actually, young women like horror movies best because they identify with their endangered heroines. It helps that, in the end, these ladies in distress somehow survive and are empowered by having defeated the evil men trying to kill them.

It also helps that young women who enjoy such films often bring dates who can comfort them during the really scary scenes.

If you’re a fan of horror genre movies you generally don’t have to wait very long for the next one to appear. This weekend, for instance, will see Warner Bros. and Dark Castle Entertainment’s PG-13 rated “The Apparition”” materialize in multiplexes. Directed by first-time feature director Todd Lincoln, it stars Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton.

In “Apparition,” when frightening events start occurring in their home, a young couple (Greene and Stan) discover they’re being haunted by a presence accidentally conjured up during a parapsychology experiment. Their last hope is a supernatural expert (Felton), but even with his help it may already be too late to save them from a terrifying force.

With an estimated production cost of $17 million, “Apparition” is cheap enough to be potentially very profitable.

“Apparition” is tracking best with under-25 females and next best with under-25 males. That’s perfect since under-25 females are typically the core audience for horror films and the PG-13 rating means under-17s can buy tickets.

A steady procession of horror films will follow “Apparition” through this fall and winter and into the New Year. Here’s a quick look at some upcoming titles that belong on your radar screen if onscreen horror is your cup of movie tea.

Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures’ PG-13 horror thriller “The Possession” hits theatres Aug. 31, just in time to help horror fans get through Labor Day Weekend. Directed by Ole Bornedal (“Deliver Us From Evil”), it stars Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick. Reportedly made for $17.5 million, it too could potentially be very profitable.

Originally rated R, “Possession” was edited in order to obtain a PG-13 rating, which is particularly helpful given that many under-17 teens are horror film fans.

In “Possession,” based on a true story, a family unites to survive the wrath of an unspeakable evil. After Clyde (Morgan) and Stephanie’s (Sedgwick) young daughter becomes obsessed with an antique wooden box from a yard sale, they discover the box was built to contain a Dybbuk — a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host.

“Possession” is tracking best with under-25 females and next best with under-25 males. As with “Apparition,” this is exactly the demographic breakdown you want to see for a horror film.

Screen Gems’ 3D action horror thriller “Resident Evil: Retribution,” opening Sept. 14, is from “Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson and stars Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez.

This is the fifth episode in the “Resident Evil” franchise, whose original title, which reportedly cost $33 million to make, opened Mar. 15, 2002 to $17.7 million and grossed $40.1 million domestically. “Resident Evil: Apocalypse,” which reportedly cost $45 million, opened Sept. 10, 2004 to $23 million and grossed $51.2 million domestically. “Resident Evil: Extinction” opened Sept. 21, 2007 to $23.7 million and wound up doing $50.6 million domestically. “Resident Evil: Afterlife” opened Sept. 10, 2010 to $26.7 million and became the series’ highest grossing episode with $60.1 million domestically.

In “Retribution,” Jovovich’s character Alice continues her battle against the Umbrella Corporation as its deadly T-virus continues to ravage Earth, turning people everywhere into legions of flesh eating Undead.

One of the most highly anticipated horror films is Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 4,” opening Oct. 19. Neither its budget nor its plot synopsis are known at this point, but it’s a safe bet that it was made on a shoestring and will be every bit as scary as the first three episodes were.

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, “PA 4” stars Katie Featherston, Bradley Allen and Matt Shivley. Joost and Schulman previously directed “Paranormal Activity 3,” which reportedly cost $5 million to produce. It opened Oct. 21, 2011 to $52.6 million and went on to gross $104 million domestically.

“Paranormal Activity 2,” which was made for an estimated $3 million, opened Oct. 22, 2010 to $40.7 million and ultimately did $84.8 million domestically. The original “Paranormal Activity,” which is said to have cost only $15,000 to make and was then acquired by Paramount for just a few hundred thousand dollars, opened Sept. 25, 2009 in limited release to $77,873. It went wide Oct. 16, 2009 with $19.6 million and ended up grossing $107.9 million domestically.

Another famous horror franchise episode to watch for later this year is The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films’ “The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes.” For now there’s no release date set. It’s the sequel to the MGM horror hit “The Amityville Horror,” which opened Apr. 15, 2005 to $23.5 million and grossed $65.2 million domestically. It reportedly was made for $19 million.

“Amityville’s” roots as a franchise go all the way back to the first “The Amityville Horror” that opened via American International Pictures July 27, 1979 to $7.8 million and ended up doing $86.4 million domestically. The next two episodes were both distributed by Orion Pictures. “Amityville II: The Possession” opened Sept. 24, 1982 to $4.1 million and did $12.5 million domestically. “Amityville 3-D” opened Nov. 18, 1983 to $2.4 million and grossed $6.3 million domestically.

Looking ahead to 2013, there’s no shortage of high profile horror titles on the distribution radar.

Lionsgate and Nu Image’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D” will get the year off to a terrific horrific start Jan. 4. Directed by John Luessenhop (“Takers”), it stars Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde and Scott Eastwood. The film, which reportedly cost only $8 million to produce, is about a young woman going to Texas to collect an inheritance – but, instead, meets a certain chainsaw killer.

The “Chainsaw” franchise already includes seven titles going back to 1974 with a combined domestic theatrical gross of $164.9 million. The most recent episode, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” which reportedly cost $16 million to make, opened via New Line Cinema Oct. 6, 2006 to $18.5 million. It ended up grossing $39.5 million domestically.

Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment are returning to the “Frankenstein” movie well with “I, Frankenstein,” opening Feb. 22. Directed by Stuart Beattie (“Tomorrow, When the War Began”), it stars Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski and Aaron Eckhart.

This time the story’s about Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster and a war between two immortal clans that’s been going on for centuries. Eckhart plays Adam Frankenstein, the Monster, and Nighy leads the demons who want to build an army of the undead. Strahovski’s the scientist who knows how to get the dead back on their feet, so to speak.

MGM and Columbia’s Screen Gems’ remake of the 1976 horror classic “Carrie” opens Mar. 15. Directed by Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry,” the 1999 drama for which Hilary Swank won the best actress Oscar), it’s based on Stephen King’s first novel, published by Doubleday in 1973. Starring are Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore and Judy Greer.

The original R rated “Carrie” from United Artists was directed by Brian DePalma (“The Untouchables”) and starred Sissy Spacek, John Travolta and Piper Laurie.

Also on deck for 2013 is “The Evil Dead,” whose roots go back to the 1981 film of that name, released Apr. 15, 1983 via New Line Cinema. It cost an estimated $375,000 to make and grossed $2.4 million domestically. A sequel, “Evil Dead II,” which reportedly cost $3.6 million, opened Mar. 13, 1987 via DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group and grossed $5.9 million domestically. Both episodes were directed by Sam Raimi, who later became famous for directing “Spider-Man” and two sequels in that franchise.

This franchise reboot from first time feature director Fede Alvarez stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez and Jessica Luca. Its screenplay is by Sam Raimi, Diablo Cody (an Oscar winner in 2007 for her original screenplay for “Juno”), Rodo Sayagues (a first time feature screenwriter) and Alvarez.

2013 will also see the arrival of CBS Films’ supernatural thriller “7500,” which originally was going to open in theatres this Aug. 31. Now it’s delayed until next year and no date’s set yet. Directed by Takashi Shimizu (“The Grudge”), it stars Leslie Bibb, Ryan Kwanten and Amy Smart.

Bottom line: Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a scary night – one of many upcoming for fans of Hollywood horror.