Why These Horror Movies Bombed At The Box Office

For much of the 21st century, Universal Pictures has failed to turn its various classic monsters (like Dracula, Frankenstein’s creation, the Wolf Man, etc.) into big box office draws. Save for the Brendan Fraser “Mummy” movies, Universal’s modern visions of its vintage scary creatures have either been box office disappointments like “Van Helsing” or outright bombs like the 2017 “Mummy” remake. However, the success of 2020’s “The Invisible Man” finally shined a light on how to make Universal Monsters work for 21st-century moviegoers. Cheaply-made films were a perfect vessel for these characters — after all, that’s how they started their respective big-screen existences.

Bizarrely, Universal’s next modern update of one of its classic monsters was not another low-budget effort. Instead, the studio embraced “Renfield,” which did feature oodles of R-rated gore, but was primarily an action movie, while also featuring crime thriller and comedy elements as well. “Renfield” was also no “Invisible Man,” packing a hefty $86 million price tag. 

Inevitably, “Renfield” turned into another modern Universal Monsters box office bust, despite delivering Nicolas Cage as Dracula. Worldwide, “Renfield” grossed a dismal $26.8 million. Costly action-oriented movies are just not where characters like Dracula thrive. It also didn’t help that the promotional campaign leaned heavily on Cage: This talented actor unfortunately hasn’t appeared in a live-action movie that’s exceeded $22 million domestically since 2012. With those numbers, the box office woes of most modern Universal Monsters movies continued undaunted.

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