It's a bit unusual to look at the third weekend of July and not see a major blockbuster tentpole on the release calendar, but that's exactly the situation next month. In contrast to recent years, the weekend of July 19, 2013 will see the wide release of four new films. One of them, Turbo, opens early on July 17. The other three are Red 2, R.I.P.D., and The Conjuring. Guess which one is building the most buzz so far?
Hint: it's not the star- or effects-driven vehicles.
Director James Wan's The Conjuring has slowly been building its case over the last few months. Over the past five days, the supernatural horror has posted a strong 15,834 tweets. That puts it far ahead of the Twitter activity for films like Mama (which hardly tracked on Twitter one month out), Sinister (by 215 percent), and Insidious (by 2,588 percent) at their same pre-release points. In fact, thanks to a surge in buzz over the last couple of days, The Conjuring is even trending ahead of franchise mainstay Paranormal Activity 4 by 51 percent.
More good news for the film: its Twitter activity is pacing ahead of all three openers it will be competing against. As of Tuesday, Conjuring was the fifth most talked-about movie on Twitter (second among films not yet released). When this morning (Wednesday) began, it had jumped all the way to the top spot with more than 6,300 tweets and counting.
Facebook buzz is also encouraging. Wan's latest pic has added nearly 28,000 fans in the last five days, bumping its total up to nearly 158,166. That's impressive for an original horror title, performing on par with The Woman In Black's 152,995 and just slightly behind The Devil Inside's 180,873 fans at the same point before release.
The Conjuring's 94 percent "want to see" score among 10,720 Flixster voters through June 25 is a good launching point as more audiences begin to discover the movie when marketing picks up in July. By comparison, Sinister pulled a 95 percent score from 18,033 voters through the day before its release last year.
Most comparison points for The Conjuring could be rendered meaningless by one element, though: its summertime release. The late summer openings of 2001's The Others (August), 2000's What Lies Beneath (July), and 1999's The Haunting and The Blair Witch Project (both in July) have historically proven that audiences will go in for a good scare during the dog days--not just during slower times of the movie-going year.
The Conjuring's positive early reviews are also indicative of a potential crowd-pleaser, and supernatural horror fans haven't had much to buy a ticket for since spring's The Last Exorcism Part II and Evil Dead. Those elements in conjunction with strong online buzz may make for a perfect sleeper hit storm come July 19.
BoxOffice is currently forecasting a $23 million opening and $65 million domestic haul for The Conjuring. We'll continue to update those figures with further analysis as needed in the weeks ahead.
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The Conjuring trailer: