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The Awesome Power of Netflix on the Box Office, and the 10 Biggest Horror Movie Openings of All Time

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 16, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 16, 2013 |

Though Nikki Finke claims that it is “no surprise” that a horror movie that opened on Friday the 13th would do so well, most were nevertheless shocked that Insidious: Chapter 2, a sequel to a movie that grossed only $54 million during its entire domestic run, would open with $40 million, making it the third largest horror movie opening of all time (and by “horror,” I don’t mean The Sixth Sense and Alien. I mean straight-up horror movie). I think it has much less to do with the fact that Insidious: Chapter 2 opened on Friday the 13th and far more to do with the fact that Insidious was a very popular movie on Netflix.

If my Facebook wall during late 2011 and 2012 is any indication, Insidious gained a lot of fans thanks to streaming on Netflix. In fact, it was rated more than 1.8 million times on the streaming service (which is a huge number for a movie that was only seen 7 million times in theaters). Studios behind horror movies should keep this in mind when deciding whether to license their properties to Netflix, as they can add to their tallies twice: Once with licensing fees, and again when the sequel boasts a bigger box-office. I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, if a movie like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, which has played well for a couple of years on Netflix, eventually landed a sequel, even if it is of the straight-to-Netflix variety. The studios behind recent horror movie hits, The Conjuring and The Purge, should also take notice, especially if they are planning sequels (and, of course, they are). An inevitable Insidious: Chapter 3 would also benefit if Chapter 2 were once again licensed for Netflix.

While we’re on the subject of the box-office power of Insidious: Chapter 2, let’s place its opening weekend in context with the other nine highest grossing opening weekends of all time for horror movies.

Paranormal Activity 3 — $53 million

The Conjuring — $41.8 million

Insidious: Chapter 2: $41 million

Paranormal Activity 2 — $40.6 million

Friday the 13th (2009) — $40.5 million

The Grudge — $39.1 million

Freddy Vs. Jason — $36.4 million

The Ring Two — $35 million

Scream 3 — $34.7 million

The Purge — $34 million

The Devil Inside — $33 million

I should also note that the Paranormal Activity movies have had runs on Netflix, too, which was no doubt instrumental in their sequels’ successes.

As for the rest of the box office: The only other wide release this weekend was Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones’ The Family, and it fizzled, raking in a meager $13.9 million. Meanwhile, at number three, Riddick saw a whopping 66 percent drop, bringing in only $6.5 million in its second weekend, while at four and five, The Butler and We’re the Millers continue to add to their sleeper hit totals, arriving at $99 million and $131 million, respectively.