‘The Wretched’ movie: Breaking box office records despite pandemic
The world is looking very different from where it was a few months ago. Back in January people were still packing into theaters and big-budget films still ruled supreme at the box office. But nowadays, to get those numbers a film just has to make it to theaters.
The indie horror film The Wretched, made an unprecedented rise to the top of box office charts and has stayed there for five consecutive weeks. Five weeks on top of the box office puts The Wretched in the company of films like Black Panther and The Sixth Sense and makes it just one of five films to have held top position for this length of time in twenty-three years.
It’s true that box office records were smashed because there wasn’t a lot of competition to begin with however, the rise of this small-budget indie production shines light on a new path independent film can take to push through the noise of blockbuster fanfare and make its voice heard.
The indie horror flick that broke records
The Wretched is a film set in 1985 that tells the story of a teenage boy, Ben (John-Paul Howard), who is sent to live in a small town with his father to curb a recent rebellious phase. Ben discovers that the local parents are being manipulated by an evil spirit that preys upon the children of the town and uses its powers to steal them away.
The film is a great summer break horror flick, with plenty of creepy material to keep us freaked out while also reeling us in with the 80s nostalgia we’re all suckers for since Stranger Things made its indelible mark.
A path of innovation where movie giants dare not tread
The independent film production company behind The Wretched is IFC Films based in New York City. Unlike the majority of Hollywood studios who have had to postpone or shelve their films due to brick-and-mortar theaters closing in the coronavirus outbreak, IFC has been releasing its productions on schedule.
But where does one premiere a film when there are no open theaters? No theaters that is, except for drive-ins.
Yes, those relics of the past are coming back in a big way now that social distancing is today’s be-all, end-all rule. While their main showings include the classics like Jaws or already digitally released newer movies like Onward, for a new injection of content drive-ins have sought projects from independent film sources.
This distribution has allowed IFC to continue releasing its content regularly and it has shown several new movies among the open drive-in theaters across the country. The independent production company holds the advantage over big Hollywood studios who could not hope to make a profit from even packed drive-in theaters. On the other hand, The Wretched has currently taken in over $660,000, a solid result for a low-budget film.
The pre-dawn of a new age?
Studios like IFC Films have a window of opportunity in today’s climate to release their films without the competition of blockbusters. They’ve certainly seized that opportunity and made an impression on audiences during this time.
Independent films have always struggled to make money in theaters, especially since streaming sites rose in popularity and indie films took to our home screens to find their voice. Now, old customs are experiencing a revival and people are desperate to get away from their homes and find community in a shared experience like going to the theater.
Despite their success, IFC Films know this could be a short-lived recognition. After the restrictions lift and conventional theaters reopen it might be business as usual with big productions once more overshadowing indie offerings. Nevertheless, IFC Films has made its mark in box office records and perhaps this re-awakening of drive-in culture will bring with it a new era for independent film.