Jason Blum Thinks The Success Of Smile Has Created A Horror Bubble That's Ready To Burst

Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum has been in the movie business for decades now, and in a recent interview on IndieWire's "Screen Talk" podcast, the executive shared his two cents on the current trend of box office-friendly original horror. In short, Blum thinks we're in a horror boom period that will continue through 2024 but will inevitably lead to several wide releases not being successful, resulting in a burst genre bubble.

This may sound like a cynical claim, but Blum is realistic and hopeful in his prognostication here, ultimately explaining that he thinks horror will cycle back to a robust and successful original slate eventually, as it always does. "I've been doing it long enough, I've seen [a bubble] a handful of times," the exec told interviewers when asked about potential genre oversaturation. "There's been like two or three bubbles." While Blum points out that press coverage loves to see a trend in the horror landscape, the only main trend in his eyes is "boom and bust."

Blum cites the wild success of Paramount's "Smile" as a sign that the market is headed towards another boom and bust situation. Parker Finn's film about a therapist plagued by a creepy grin-related curse made a mountain of money at the box office last year, topping out with $217 million worldwide against a comparatively modest budget that Variety puts at around $17 million. According to Blum, that $200 million haul could make studios hungry for more horror films in the future, despite the fact that he says fans of the genre tend to show up for roughly the same number of films per year.

According to Blum, boom and bust is the only true trend

"The demand for horror over my career has been very consistent," Blum said. "The audience can take about eight-ish, nine-ish, 10-ish horror titles a year." But, he points out, when a movie like "Smile" becomes a massive hit, "everyone jumps in" to grab a piece of the box office pie. Blum is confident enough to even take a guess at how many horror films may end up in wide release over the next three years. "So next year we'll see — I'm just guessing — we'll see 25 wide-release horror movies," he told the podcast. "15 of those will not work. And then the following year, in '25, it'll go back to between 10 to 14 releases."

I like to think the community's hunger for fresh horror is voracious, but Blum's comments here actually seem less like an indictment of audiences' limited attention span and more like a commentary on the fickleness of the business side of Hollywood. "The audience is fairly consistent," Blum said. "The industry is what's inconsistent in terms of the ups and downs of the number of horror releases, which is always pegged to, like, one outlier." In this case, the outlier was "Smile." Another recent boom and bust came in the wake of Andy Muschietti's "IT," which became the top-earning horror movie of all time in 2017 yet failed to inspire anything that reached similar heights.

In the meantime, the horror landscape looks pretty great

Even without the success of "Smile," 2022 was an especially lucrative year for horror films, with "The Black Phone," "Scream," "Halloween Ends," "Nope," "X," "Terrifier 2," and "Barbarian" all more than doubling their reported production budgets at the box office. The movies in that list differ greatly in terms of budgets and marketing, but each one managed to get horror fans to the theaters.

This year's potential horror hits include eclectic but creative fare like Ari Aster's "Beau is Afraid" and Ti West's "Maxxxine"; horror comedies like "Renfield" and "The Blackening"; and new franchise installments for "Saw," "The Evil Dead," "Insidious," "The Nun," and even "The Exorcist." Plus, Stephen King's "The Boogeyman" is headed to the big screen, while a highly anticipated "Salem's Lot" redux still doesn't have a release date, but will hopefully see the light of day soon. It's perfectly possible that a horror bubble will burst like Blum says, but in the meantime, horror fans are eating well with plenty of exciting new releases on the horizon.