No other genre sees the launch of a franchise the way a horror flick does. Small budget films that give a stellar return to the studio more often than not. This year itself has played host to the spin-off from the Paranormal Activity series and the prequel/spin-off of The Conjuring. In between the two lay The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to last year’s The Purge. Few would have had their eyes set on the Ethan Hawke starrer The Purge back in 2013. But when this movie released in the early weeks of June, its performance stunned everyone, including the studios that brought this film to the big screen. The movie opened to a staggering $34 million on its first weekend in North America, which was many multiples of its tiny production budget of $3 million. In all, the movie went on to earn $89 million worldwide, which is almost 30 times its production budget! The central idea of the film was a near future where all crime is legalized for a 12-hour period every year, which unleashed unspeakable horrors, making it quite spooky despite the absence of the supernatural elements.
The astounding success of The Purge made the development of a sequel almost a necessity. The film-makers wasted little time and in July 2014, The Purge: Anarchy was released. This one took place more on the streets as a young couple try to survive the “Purge”. The production budget was now higher, but still can be termed ‘peanuts’ at $9 million as compared to production budgets of other Hollywood movies. The movie opened a tad lower than its predecessor with $30 million in North America, but its subsequent weekend drops were not as steep as the original. It went on to earn more than the 2013 original both in the domestic and international market. Its theatrical run eventually ended with worldwide earnings of $109 million which is about 12 times its production budget. That’s not a bad return on investment at all!
So there is no reason for another sequel to follow. Maybe someday the audience will tire of the same concept, and opt to stay away from the theatres. But till that day is discovered, the studios are not going to let their golden egg laying goose fly away. So as Deadline reports, The Purge 3 is very well in the making. The masters of low budget horror films, Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes, will once again orchestrate the third movie of the franchise. Universal Pictures continue their partnership as the distributor. James DeMonaco who wrote and directed the previous two instalments is said to be on board for the third movie as the writer, and I guess would end up taking over the directing duties too. This is what he had to say to Deadline.
I never imagined that The Purge would become the phenomenon it has become and I am thrilled to continue my collaboration with Blumhouse, Sebastien Lemercier, Platinum Dunes and the great team at Universal in building The Purge into a worldwide franchise.
He does speak truthfully when he says that he had never imagined such success for the movie, and I doubt anybody did. And the studios are attempting to build it into a worldwide franchise, though it is unlikely that it is going to find a very big market outside the North America. The foreign markets contributed to only about 34% of the total earnings for The Purge: Anarchy and that figure was further lower for The Purge. The studios will have to keep the Americans as their primary target for the third one too, as that is the place where they will find a loyal fanbase. There is no news on the possible storyline, casting, and release date for now. But it makes sense to strike when the iron is hot, and so I am certain that a 2015 release date would be on top of the minds of the studio executives.
As the Paranormal Activity series is fading away, there is room for another franchise to grow in this space, which The Purge aims to capitalise on it till the next horror entity walks in. It’s a strategy that should work for a little while till the novelty fades, and then the studios could go looking for their next $3 million blockbuster. Cheap thrills, eh!?