Longlegs Will Test The Box Office Value Of A Perfect Rotten Tomatoes Score


The first half of 2024 was not as kind to horror at the box office as it has been in recent years. In the pandemic era, horror had been arguably the most reliable genre around, particularly in 2022 and 2023. It wasn't until the blockbuster opening barely posted by "A Quiet Place: Day One" that a genre flick truly broke out this year. The question is, can NEON keep the hot streak alive when director Oz Perkins' "Longlegs" hits theaters? Hailed as one of the scariest movies of the year with near-universal praise from critics, it is certainly well positioned to do so, but it is going to be all about managing expectations.

It's important to understand that this was never going to be the kind of movie to make $20 million on opening weekend. It's a small movie hoping to do well for itself against a small budget, most likely in the $10 million range. That being the case, "Longlegs" can probably expect to open in the same vicinity as "Immaculate" did earlier this year. That movie debuted to $5.3 million on its way to $27.1 million worldwide, which was respectable for a movie that cost less than $10 million to make. Coupled with VOD, streaming revenue, Blu-ray, etc, it did more than alright for itself. A similar performance would be good here.

NEON is not a studio that has generally churned out huge hits. Only five of its movies have ever made more than $10 million at the domestic box office, with "Ferrari" ($18.5 million), "I, Tonya" ($30 million), and "Parasite" ($53.3 million) leading the way. Those movies had more obvious commercial prospects as they were friendly to audiences beyond hardcore genre fans. That said, when properly motivated, horror fans will turn up en masse. The upside on this one could be big if it catches on.

Can Longlegs satisfy critics and audiences alike?

The film centers on an FBI agent hunting a serial killer, only to uncover a series of occult clues that she must solve to put this brutal murder spree to an end. Maika Monroe ("It Follows") and Nicolas Cage ("Pig") star. Perkins, whose previous credits include "The Blackcoat's Daughter" and "Gretel & Hansel," also wrote the screenplay.

NEON has marketed the hell out of "Longlegs," launching one heck of a campaign to sell what Perkins is cooking. At the same time, the studio has opted, in some ways, for a less-is-more approach. Most notably, it has avoided fully revealing Cage's wild look in the film in favor of only briefly teasing it in trailers. It also hasn't revealed too much about the story, instead opting to let mystery and the intensely creepy vibe do the talking. NEON is clearly betting on intrigue to do the heavy lifting here, combined with, hopefully, early word of mouth buzz. For now, the latter part is off to a very good start.

As of this writing, "Longlegs" boasts an unblemished 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That will certainly change but it's no less impressive for the time being. /Film's Bill Bria called it the most terrifying horror movie of the year in his perfect review. The hope is that audiences get on board as well. The fear is that it could be a situation where critics love it and general moviegoers aren't as smitten. Think "Uncut Gems" (91% critic score/52% audience rating) or "It Comes at Night" (88% critic score/44% audience rating). Even if that does happen, though, "Longlegs" may yet become one of those "you must see it to believe it" situations.

"Longlegs" hits theaters on July 12, 2024

Read More