I've got a feeling we're going to start hearing the term "microbudget" thrown around a lot more soon. Universal Pictures' microbudget thriller THE PURGE, which had a budget of approximately $3 million, has made that money back in one night, the trades are reporting. The James DeMonaco film, produced by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes and Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions, earned around $3.4 million on Thursday night from 10pm and midnight shows, and it shows no signs of slowing down. That's a hit, folks.
Of course, the $3 million budget isn't factoring in marketing costs, and Universal still has to split whatever the film makes with the theater chains, but there's no getting around the fact that THE PURGE's strong showing will be the talk of Hollywood for the next couple of days, especially since it might ultimately be the #1 box office earner of the week, fending off THE INTERNSHIP and the second weekends of AFTER EARTH and NOW YOU SEE ME. And those films cost wayyyy more than THE PURGE.
According to Fandango, THE PURGE represented 54% of all ticket sales on Thursday and is currently outselling all 2013 horror films. As of right now, MAMA holds the top opening weekend of 2013 with $28 million. Remains to be seen if THE PURGE can reach that high, but it's certainly receiving plenty of free buzz thanks to a large presence on Twitter and Facebook.
So will the studios use this low-risk, high-reward model more in the near future? It's very likely, although Jason Blum has been making it work for years, as evidenced with sleeper hits such as SINISTER ($3 million budget, $77 million worldwide gross) and INSIDIOUS ($1.5 million budget, $97 million worldwide gross). Blum has two more of these microbudget films on deck for Universal, one of which is THE PURGE 2, which might be coming sooner than originally thought.
So will you be contributing to THE PURGE's fantastic opening? Vote in our poll and let us know win the comments section!
PURGE star Lena Headey