In spite of violent national tragedies, horror films endure

Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:02am EST
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By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The unexpected turnout this month to see horror movie "Texas Chainsaw 3D" just weeks after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut underscores the enduring appeal of the genre to both filmgoers and studios.

The lucrative return on such low-budget films, combined with studio success releasing them in January, means U.S. audiences will get their fill of horror in the weeks to come.

"Texas Chainsaw 3D," forecast to gross $16 million, took in a surprisingly strong $23 million at the box office during its opening weekend, beating out more critically acclaimed films such as "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "Les Miserables."

Early estimates for this weekend forecast the movie will take $8 million to $10 million in ticket sales. Movies typically lose between a quarter and half their box office take from week-to-week.

Chainsaw's performance, however, has some critics arguing that releasing the movie so close after the shooting that killed 20 children and six staff members in Newtown, Connecticut, was in poor taste.

"I think the very act of releasing this film right now is almost immoral," said Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of "A History of Horror" and professor of film studies at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Distributor Lions Gate Entertainment declined to comment.

GUNS AND MOVIES   Continued...