Why is the film industry afraid of Horror.
Year on year, despite horror being responsible for some of the highest-grossing films, it’s the biopics, war films and dramas that carry clout come awards season. This year’s Oscar nominations snubbed Jordan Peele’s pitch-black comedy Us. As a middle-class mother and her disturbed doppelgänger, Lupita Nyongo’o gave two of the best performances last year in one film – but she was overlooked for Best Actress, and the film didn’t get a look in for Best Picture either.
Alfred Hitchcock broke the mould with Psycho. The epochal slasher was nominated for Best Director in 1960, marking the director’s fifth and final nomination in that category. Despite multiple nods, the anointed “master of suspense” did not win a single Academy Award in his lifetime. Rebecca (1940) was the only one of his 52 movies that took home Best Film, and that was claimed by the movie’s producer David O Zelznick instead.
The horror movie genre has generally been a profitable asset for studios throughout movie history because they consistently draw big audiences. Simply put, viewers like to be scared, but only when they can emerge from a darkened theater and say to themselves, "It's only a movie." However, the real reason studios keep making or distributing horror movies is because those big audiences help create large profit margins. Budgets have traditionally been lower on horror films than most other genres in showbiz, and once in a while a micro-budgeted movie comes along that transforms the industry.
Despite being a popular tradition during the Halloween season, horror movies remain critically overlooked in the film industry. Since the Academy Awards began in 1929, only one horror film has won the title of Best Picture: The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.
The top grossing horror film is currently the 2017 remake of It, which has grossed approximately $700 million. That is a long way behind the top-three highest-grossing films of all time, Avatar, Titanic, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, each of which earned more than $2 billion.