Abigail Suggests Vampires Are No Longer Good Box Office Bets


This past weekend was, without a doubt, one that several studios and pretty much every movie theater around the country (and much of the world for that matter) would like to forget. Several new releases hit theaters, including Guy Ritchie's "The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare," as well as Crunchroll's latest anime film, "Spy x Family Code: White." It was, however, Universal Pictures' horror/comedy "Abigail" that was the most high-profile release of the bunch. While the film did perform better than the other debuts, it fell well short of expectations and further cemented a point that has been quietly lingering for some time: Vampires are not generally good for business these days.

"Abigail" opened to just $10.2 million, coming in second place over the weekend to Alex Garland's "Civil War," which pulled in $11.1 million in its second frame. Overall, it was one of the worst weekends at the box office in 2024 to date. There was little, if anything, to celebrate. The film had been tracking for a $12 million opening on the low end, and the only good news for the studio is that the movie came with a relatively modest $28 million production budget (before marketing). So, in the long run, this one should make its money back, but it's sure as heck not going to be an outright hit. The film was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, aka Radio Silence, the filmmaking collective behind "Ready or Not" and last year's "Scream VI."

For Universal, it was especially rough. This is the third time in a year that they've had to watch a vampire movie underperform in theaters. Both "Renfield" and "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" flopped at the box office last year. What stings this time is that "Abigail" was received well by critics and even earned a solid B CinemaScore. But it didn't matter in the end.

It's been a while since vampires were a hit at the box office

The larger lesson for Hollywood here is that vampire movies just aren't clicking with the moviegoing masses, and they frankly haven't been for some time. "Twilight" becoming a $3.3 billion franchise is very much the exception, not the rule. For whatever reason, vampires as out-and-out horror fodder just aren't bringing out audiences in meaningful numbers. As one recent example, 2022's "The Invitation" ($33 million box office/$10 million budget) benefited from a small budget and a lack of competition, but its overall gross was still relatively small.

More often, we're looking at stuff like "Morbius" ($167 million box office/$75 million budget), that couldn't even leverage Marvel's good name to garner success. Save for the "Hotel Transylvania" franchise, which is very much benefiting from being family-friendly, it's been a while since a vampire movie hit it big at the box office. From what I can tell, we have to go back to "Underworld: Blood Wars" ($81 million box office/$35 million budget) in 2017, and that was part of an already-successful franchise.

Even going back a full decade to 2014's "Dracula Untold" ($200 million box office/$70 million budget), the ceiling was relatively low on the biggest scale in the pre-pandemic era. The stuff that worked were indies such as "What We Do in the Shadows" or "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," which were both very small movies that ended up finding their audience over time. In the pandemic era? Vampire movies are truly having a hard time breaking through.

I'm not saying nobody should make vampire movies. We've got Robert Eggers' "Nosferatu" coming later this year, and if all goes well, that may break the cycle. But it certainly needs to be understood that the appetite for these movies, generally speaking, is limited. Why exactly that is? It's tough to say, but the numbers don't lie.

"Abigail" is in theaters now.

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