By the time its first showings had ended last week, The Devil Inside was already infamous thanks to an abrupt ending that had audiences booing the screen. And yet this low budget shocker cleaned up at the box office on its opening weekend to the tune of almost $35 million.
Will it fall sharply going into its second weekend? Sure. Horror pictures are typically front loaded anyway but even if it vanished from theaters today, the movie would still be a huge success. Some fans might (understandably) grouse about how unjust it is that The Devil Inside is a box office blockbuster while so many better horror movies often go ignored during their theatrical runs (or don't even get theatrical runs). Personally, I celebrate any genre film's success.
Obviously I prefer to see good movies do well but even when a mediocre-to-poor horror movie is a hit, I see it as an overall victory for the genre.
There's been a lot of gloomy talk lately about theater attendance, with 2011 having the lowest turnout to theaters since the mid-'90s. Some commentators have looked at those figures and wondered whether Americans have fallen out of love with going to the movies but the massive turnout for The Devil Inside is an encouraging reminder that audiences will still pack their local theaters if they're genuinely excited about a movie. Of course, it'd be better if most of the audience didn't leave feeling like they've been ripped off but whenever studios are reminded (for the umpteenth time) that horror is a hot commodity, it gives other, hopefully better, filmmakers a chance to make the kind of horror movie that really deserves to be a hit.