Have you heard about the movie that is so disturbingly gut-wrenching, so terrifyingly terrifying, that it reportedly required some audience members to vomit, faint, and walk out of movie theaters?
That very question (the movie, by the way, is “Traffier 2”) is inspiring horror buffs and skeptics alike to head to their local movie theaters to check out the hype for themselves. The ultra-gore, micro-budget slasher film has overcome relative obscurity to face adversity and emerge as one of the season’s box office successes. “Horror 2” – and no, you don’t need The original film first-look – recently broke into the top 10 on its way to a staggering $7.73 million in domestic ticket sales. And it has achieved these returns without the marquee of a big movie star and hardly any promotion.
“That’s where word of mouth becomes more important than any paid advertising,” says Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitors. “When the target audience hears ‘Woom-O-Ram’ – it’s worth the price of admission.”
Its breakout success is perhaps most surprising to its backers Bloody Disgusting and Cinedigm, as well as Iconic Releasing, which is distributing the film. Since “Trafficker 2” was not rated by the Motion Picture Association, distribution executives struggled to convince theater operators to release it to the auditorium in the first place. Keeping this challenge in mind, the film was initially planned to be screened for only three nights.
“This has surprised us all,” says Devon Canfield, VP of sales and distribution at Iconic Releasing.
In its opening weekend, “Terrifier 2” earned $825,000 from 886 theaters. From there, something unusual happened. For virtually any movie that’s ever been released in theaters, ticket sales usually drop off in the following weeks. Mainstreamers like “Avatar” and “Top Gun: Maverick” also experienced a dip after debuting on the big screen. But so far, “Traffier 2,” which follows a terrifying killer named Art the Clown, has managed to do the opposite, while major studio horror films like “Halloween’s End,” “Issue” and ” “Barbarians” have been criticized.
“It’s caught fire in a way that you don’t see for a movie that’s not from a major studio,” says Paul Degarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst.
Although its theater count dipped to 700 in its sophomore outing, the film grossed even more than last weekend, bringing back $850,000 between Friday and Sunday. At that point, “Terrifier 2” grossed $2.29 million.
“We had 700 screens on the inside.” [our second weekend]and we continued to grow our collection,” says Canfield. “It doesn’t happen when you lose places.”
By then, buzz had started to build and “Terrifier 2” generated $1.9 million in its third frame while opening at 755 locations. And now in its fourth weekend on the big screen, ticket sales continue to hold up (up 4 percent) as the film collected $1.8 million from 1,550 screens, marking its biggest opening to date. With nearly $8 million in the bank, box office watchers predict that ticket sales could reach $10 million.
“Week-to-week increases are extraordinarily rare,” Degarabedian says. “It’s like finding a Sasquatch.”
It’s not putting up the same numbers as high-profile horror stories like “Halloween Ends” ($60 million), “Masquerade” ($92 million) or “Barbarians” ($40 million), but it doesn’t need to; “Terrifier 2” was crowdfunded and made for $250,000.
What’s more remarkable is “Terrifier 2’s” weekend landing in the No. 8 spot: It’s only playing in most theaters for one or two showtimes. In comparison, “Tár,” another long film with a runtime approaching two hours and 30 minutes, is playing at least four times per day. The film, a potential awards season contender, came in at number 11 after playing in 1,087 theaters over the weekend.
“Almost every showtime is near capacity,” Canfield said. “The theaters had to turn it into bigger houses.”
Box office watchers say there are as many factors working against “Terrifier 2” (it’s over two hours long, and there are plenty of other horror movies in theaters right now) as working for it ( Horror movies are rarely going to the box office, and the market is empty with 45.5% fewer releases this fall compared to the same period in 2019, according to Comscore).
But the triumphant ticket sales point to a truth: “The horror audience is bigger than ever,” says Bock. “It’s hot as Hades.”
The sequel’s box office success is also impressive because the original “Traffier” didn’t actually hit theaters when it came out in 2016, though it played briefly in limited release in 2018. It was shown in only 5 theaters and grossed around $2,500.
“For this, we know that there is a strong following online and we want to make it as possible as possible to make a theatrical splash and reward the fans,” says Canfield.
Written and directed by Damien Lyon, “Traffier 2” features a vicious clown killer who brutalizes the citizens of a small town around Halloween. Critics have been kind to the sequel, saying it is an improvement on the original story of Art Clone. A variety of varieties Owen Gleberman praised its “grindhouse-style gore” and described the film as a “slasher nightmare”.
He wrote, “Set mostly on Halloween night, ‘Traffier 2’ is a stripped-down Hollywood horror film that clocks in at 2 hours and 18 minutes.” “Yet it more or less meets the philosophy of art clone destruction: more is more.”
Although the film is slated to be available digitally by October 31, “Traffier 2” is still expected to hit the box office in the coming weeks. For one, it’s streaming exclusively on Screambox, a small genre-centric platform that’s powerfully bleeding-edge, so that factor isn’t expected to cut into ticket sales. In an era where superheroes and big-budget sequels reign supreme, Canfield believes there is a lesson in the unexpected box office success of “Traffier 2.”
“To movie theaters, I would say: embrace alternative content and don’t be afraid to take risks,” Canfield says.