There has been hardly any box office to speak of in the U.S. for about a month and a half, given the widespread movie theater shutdown that took place in mid-March. Yet, during that time, IFC Films' The Wretched quietly matched a rather impressive box office record while nobody was looking. The horror flick has now topped the domestic box office for five weekends in a row, making it just the fifth movie to do so since Titanic accomplished the impressive feat in 1997.
The movie, directed by Brett and Drew Pierce, has earned approximately $841,000 during its run. Granted, that is but a fraction of what a typical big Hollywood movie would earn in a weekend, but for a tiny horror flick that is also available currently on VOD, it's pretty impressive. What's more, The Wretched has accomplished this largely through a release at drive-in movie theaters. Up until a couple of months ago, many Americans hadn't gone to, or even thought about a drive-in for years. Now, they are propping up the movie business at a dire time.
M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999), James Cameron's Avatar (2009) and Disney/Marvel Studios Black Panther (2018) are the only other movies since Titanic to top the box office for at least five consecutive weekends in that timespan. The Wretched may have a shot at even more glory, as several 80s movies had truly impressive runs that aren't likely to ever be broken in the traditional system. E.T., for example, topped the box office for 16 non-consecutive weekends. Ghostbusters topped it for ten. Tootsie and Beverly Hills Cop, rather amazingly, topped the charts for 13 consecutive weeks.
It is a peculiar set of circumstances that has led to The Wretched's success. $841,000 would be a good number for an IFC Films release at any time, let alone during a time when the exhibition business is on life support. The studio has made the most of it as several of its other titles such as How to Build a Girl and Swallow have also been playing at drive-ins across the country. But The Wretched has outperformed them all by a wide margin and experienced its first and only week-to-week drop at the box office this past weekend.
Big movie theater chains such as AMC and Regal are expected to try and open again in July. Though it will be with heavy restrictions and it remains unclear how willing the general public will be to head back to the movies at this time. Many in the industry expect that drive-ins are going to be a part of the future even after things normalize, as we will be emerging in a largely changed world. That could pave the way for future unlikely hits such as these, providing new avenues for smaller movies to thrive. This news was previously reported by Forbes.