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'Insidious: Chapter 2' is No. 1, as low-budget horror rules again

September 15, 2013|By Amy Kaufman
  • Barbara Hershey, left, Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkins and Rose Byrne in "Insidious: Chapter 2."
Barbara Hershey, left, Patrick Wilson, Ty Simpkins and Rose Byrne in "Insidious:… (Matt Kennedy / FilmDistrict )

So much for that Friday the 13th curse. 

Though its official opening coincided with the infamously unlucky day, "Insidious: Chapter 2" found plenty of good fortune at the box office this weekend. The low-budget horror sequel debuted at No. 1 with a stellar $41.1 million, according to an estimate from distributor FilmDistrict. The only other new film to hit theaters this weekend, the dark comedy "The Family," launched with a good-but-not-great $14.5 million. (Both movies had screenings late Thursday evening, and those ticket sales are included in their total weekend gross.)

Heading into the weekend, pre-release audience surveys suggested the “Insidious” sequel would open with around $35 million. Instead, it ended up with more than three times the $13.3 million “Insidious” launched with back in 2011. (The first film in the franchise went on to gross $54 million.)

Though the sequel was met with far less positive reviews than the original, audiences liked the second film slightly more. Those who saw the sequel this weekend assigned it an average grade of B+, according to market research firm CinemaScore, while “Insidious” earned a B. The second film attracted a young crowd, 62% of whom were under 25 years of age.

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The sequel, directed by James Wan, stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne in a story about a family who continue to be haunted by spirits of another world. It’s been a good year for Wan, who now has two low-budget horror films under his belt this year and just began shooting “Fast & Furious 7” in Atlanta. The director, who also helmed the first “Insidious,” saw his “The Conjuring” collect $135.4 million domestically this summer. With a $41.9 million debut — just a smidge more than the new “Insidious” — “The Conjuring” still has the biggest opening for a horror movie this year.

The movie also marks another 2013 micro-budget hit for Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, whose $3-million “The Purge” made $64.5 million in June. “Insidious: Chapter 2” had a budget of $5 million, co-financed by Sony Pictures, eOne Entertainment and FilmDistrict.

Though “The Family” grossed about $2 million more than industry tracking projected heading into the weekend, those who saw it didn’t seem to enjoy it much. The film’s audience — a whopping 83% of whom were over 25 — assigned the film an average grade of C. While poor word-of-mouth could hurt the film in the weeks to come, domestic distributor Relativity Media didn’t pay too much to produce the movie. Ryan Kavanaugh’s company co-financed “The Family” with writer-director Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp for $30 million.

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The poorly reviewed movie follows a family whose patriarch (Robert De Niro) has such a riddled criminal past that he is forced to take his wife and kids to France to assume new identities. “The Family” marks the biggest opening for De Niro since 2011’s action thriller “Limitless,” which launched with $18.9 million. He ultimately found more success, however, with “Silver Linings Playbook,” last year’s indie-turned-commercial hit that earned the 70-year-old an Oscar nod and grossed $132 million in the U.S. and Canada.

“You’ve got De Niro in the iconic mob role that he’s known for in 'The Family,' and those are the kind of movie memories you have of him,” said Kyle Davies, Relativity's president of theatrical distribution. “People respond to him in this role, so we’re just thinking confidently that since there aren’t a lot of comedies over the next few months we’ll make it through.”


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