Combining goodwill from the first movie with a Friday the 13th release date, horror sequel Insidious Chapter 2 seems poised for one of the biggest openings ever for the month of September. Meanwhile, Luc Besson's The Family should take a distant second place.
When it opened on the first weekend of April 2011, the first Insidious underwhelmed with just $13.3 million, which is a fairly low figure for a supernatural horror movie. It received great word-of-mouth, though, which translated to strong holds and a very respectable $54 million final total. The movie maintains a good reputation: it was a major part of the campaign for director James Wan's The Conjuring, which opened to an excellent $41.9 million in July.
Horror sequels have a sketchy track record, though their failure can often be chalked up to changing up the formula too much (for example, Blair Witch 2 and The Last Exorcism Part II both dropped the found footage aesthetic). In style and substance, Insidious Chapter 2 seems to be close to the first Insidious: it brings back the director (Wan) and cast (Patrick Wilson, Rose Bryne), and is shot in a similar style.
As is the case with most well-executed horror marketing, advertisements for Insidious Chapter 2 have played up the scares. They've even gone so far as to include infared footage of frightened advanced screening audiences, which has been a successful tactic in the past. The marketing has gone above-and-beyond to emphasize that Insidious Chapter 2 is opening on Friday the 13th, which gives the impression that this is a major horror event.
All of this seems to have been highly effective: Fandango is reporting that Insidious Chapter 2 has the highest pre-sales for any horror movie so far this year. That includes The Conjuring and The Purge, which opened to $41.9 million and $34.1 million, respectively.
Before assuming that Insidious Chapter 2 opens north of $40 million, though, it's worth remembering that the movie is opening in the traditionally slow month of September. Only three live-action movies have ever opened over $30 million in September, and only one (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) have done so in the past decade. While there's a good chance that Insidious Chapter 2 tops $30 million, history suggests it's going to have a tough time getting too much higher than that.
Playing at 3,091 locations, action comedy The Family finds Robert DeNiro and his family relocated to Europe after his character informs on the New York mafia. The movie's main selling point is the three big names involved—DeNiro, director Luc Besson, and executive producer Martin Scorsese.
While the material does seem to be in each one's wheelhouse, it's unclear how far that will go. DeNiro hasn't been a major draw as of late—for example, Killer Elite only opened to $9.4 million around the same time in 2011—while Besson's biggest successes have been as producer of the Taken and Transporter franchises. It's the opposite for Scorsese—he's known primarily as a director, and as we've seen with The Man with the Iron Fists (Quentin Tarantino) and Peeples (Tyler Perry), having a major director attached in a name-only capacity doesn't guarantee much.
Distributor Relativity Media is expecting between $11 and $13 million this weekend; on a modest $30 million budget, and with solid foreign potential, this will be a fine result. Forecast (September 13-15) 1. Insidious Chapter 2 - $32.5 million 2. The Family - $11.6 million 3. Riddick - $6.6 million (-65%) 4. Instructions Not Included - $5.2 million (-36%) 5. The Butler - $5.1 million (-39%) Bar for Success As is the case with most cheap horror movies, it won't take much for Insidious Chapter 2 to be a success. Still, it's going to be much more frontloaded than its predecessor, so it really ought to be hitting $20 million this weekend. Meanwhile, The Family would be in great shape with a $15 million debut, though just below that is fine as well.