James Wan is on a roll. Since his influential directing effort on the original Saw, Wan has steadily been building his resume. He helmed this summer's breakout smash, The Conjuring, 2011's leggy Insidious, and is currently in pre-production on next summer's Fast & Furious 7 (his first big-budget blockbuster), there's no question that Wan is on a short list of rising directors.
Now, his latest project, Insidious Chapter 2, is dominating the online buzz of any other movie. Sitting comfortably atop the our Twitter chart throughout this week, the sequel totaled an astounding 80,379 tweets during our tracking period. By comparison, that's 376 percent more activity than Wan's The Conjuring was generating at the same point, and 146 percent more than The Purge. Those summer sleepers opened to $41.9 million and $34.1 million, respectively--so you can see why the stronger buzz of a PG-13 rated sequel versus those R-rated originals is noteworthy.
With a new high of 27,166 tweets on Wednesday alone, the momentum doesn't appear to be slowing down. In fact, this kind of Twitter activity suggests the potential for a new running franchise. Insidious Chapter 2 has amassed 667 percent more tweets than last fall's Paranormal Activity 4. While that particular sequel lost some of its franchise's audience, it still debuted to a respectable $29 million. Such a figure would be a big win for the second Insidious.
Over on Facebook, Wan's sequel boasts over 2.73 million fans. Since Paranormal 4's Facebook page had been active for four films over three years, its 13.14 million fans at the same point aren't a fair comparison. Closer to home, Insidious Chapter 2 is blowing away the 158,783 fans of The Conjuring at the same point. The Purge carried 296,635.
Flixster users are likewise excited for the Friday the 13th (of September) release: the sequel has a 96 percent "want to see" score from over 22,000 voters--double that of The Conjuring at the same point. Insidious Chapter 2 has already generated more interest on the Flixster platform than The Purge did by the day before its release in June. Ditto goes for Paranormal Activity 4.
Straight-line comparisons are difficult to draw between any two movies, but this kind of statistical showing for a September horror film is immensely impressive. The PG-13 rating ensures that teens will be able to buy a ticket, and the aforementioned Friday the 13th stunt release date should inspire a healthy opening day rush.
Some may question why the film isn't targeting a release closer to Halloween (ala the Saw and Paranormal Activity series), but there is precedence of wisdom in FilmDistrict's strategy: aside from 2010's Devil, the last supernatural horror to debut in mid-September was 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose. To this day, Emily Rose's $30.1 million stands as the best supernatural September opener--not to mention the 6th best September opener overall. Two of its main advantages at the time: a PG-13 rating and strong pre-release buzz. Sound familiar?
With the built-in fan appeal of Insidious Chapter 2, the genre's strong box office stature in recent years, Wan's own track record, and a highly effective trailer (capped with the enduringly creepy "he's got your baby" sequence), we expect this sequel to open north of $30 million next month. Check back in the weeks ahead for our updated forecast and analysis on Insidious Chapter 2.
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The Insidious Chapter 2 trailer: