The small-budget horror film 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' is dominating the box office — a sign that the horror genre is exactly what movie theaters need
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," a new low-budget horror movie from Paramount, has topped the US box office for two weekends in a row.
On Wednesday, Paramount announced it had hit $102 million worldwide, including $55.5 million in the US.
It cost just $17 million to make, meaning it's earned six times more than its production budget.
The movie is the latest example of the power of horror in theaters. Aside from superhero movies, it's been the one reliable genre at the box office in recent years. And it's particularly needed now, at a time when theaters are facing a dire lack of new movie releases compared to pre-pandemic years.
Another low-budget horror hit, 20th Century's "Barbarian," has seen impressive holds week-to-week at the box office since opening last month. It was made for $10.5 million and has earned $38 million.
"Halloween Ends," made for $20 million, opens this weekend, and Robbins is projecting it to earn nearly $50 million in its debut.
"These types of films are an integral part of the industry ecosphere, and that's never been more clear than it is right now as they provide some stability in between busier portions of the release calendar," said Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro.
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" opened No. 1 at the US box office in its first weekend with over $22 million, and repeated at the top this past weekend with over $17 million — down only 22% from its debut.
Gitesh Pandya, founder of Box Office Guru, estimated that the movie is on track to reach at least 10 times its budget at the global box office.
The movie hasn't just beat expectations because of its horror roots, though. Paramount conducted an engaging marketing campaign that included placing actors at baseball games that creepily smiled for much of the games, which helped drive social-media conversation.
The hashtag "#smilemovie" has over 392 million views on TikTok as of Thursday.
"Paramount's execution in marketing the film is defined by its ability to go viral and inspire word of mouth that's spread like wildfire over the past few weeks," Robbins said.