Hostel Part II and Captivity were also not exactly critical faves, but even horror movies that were well-liked by critics failed to gain traction. What happened to Grindhouse and The Mist? Easter and Thanksgiving opening dates, says Roth, noting, "Everyone's with their families. Why did 1408 do so well and why did The Mist not do so well? They're both supernatural horror movies [and both based on Stephen King stories]. I honestly think it's the weekend." Notable among the movies that did hit were Rob Zombie's Halloween, released at the very end of the summer blockbuster season, in August; 30 Days of Night, in October; and Saw IV, on Halloween weekend.
So there's life in the genre yet, as Belofsky is quick to point out: "What happens when a romantic comedy bombs? Are there front-page articles in Variety going, 'Comedies are dead'? It just seems funny to me that a genre that makes millions of dollars for this industry is the quickest one to get panned."
Solomon, however, doesn't explain away the box office downturn as just bad timing or the media's genre bias. He thinks it's time to move away from the current trend of "torture porn"—more realistic horror about bad people who torture and kill—since we're seeing enough of that on the news already. Hinting at his company's future, Solomon suggests that "creature horror movies are probably something that people would be more interested in, because we haven't seen a lot of those, à la Alien, in recent times. So a fresh one like that would probably be accepted very, very well." Stay tuned: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem opens Christmas Day at a theater near you.