ByEmily Browne, writer at
[email protected] Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

This year has been absolutely stellar for horror, but now is the time when things start getting seriously spooky. As always, Fall brings us an awesome roster of devilish terror as we get in the mood for Halloween, and no movie is more anticipated in the 2016 season than the reboot/sequel to the seminal 1999 found-footage fiesta Blair Witch, which has a release date of September 16.

Blair Witch is a strong start to the horror season, but it is also an early start, with many of the most anticipated horror flicks pegged for release around Halloween. For example, this year will see Rings (October 28), Ouija 2 (October 21) and Rob Zombie's 31 (October 21) all released at the latter end of October — so what's the deal with Blair Witch's release date?

Does it Matter When a Movie Is Released?

I imagine this has been a question movie studios have asked for years; when is the best time to release my movie? Will it make more money if I schedule the release date now rather than later? We all know the importance of the summer blockbuster, and see big-budget features released in May and November. This is because audiences are generally bigger, and the movie is thought to make more money. September, when Blair Witch is released, is known as a 'dump month'. A 'dump month' has lower movie attendance figures, so studios use them to release movies which are harder to market, had disappointing test screenings or feature lesser-known casts. These 'dump months' are generally considered to be January, February, August and —of course — September.

'Blair Witch' Lionsgate
'Blair Witch' Lionsgate

More Blair Witch?

Does it Matter When a Horror Movie Is Released?

'The Blair Witch Project' Artisan Entertainment
'The Blair Witch Project' Artisan Entertainment

Unlike Christmas movies, horror can be released throughout the year, but the heavy-hitters are typically released around Halloween, when it is thought audiences will be in a particularly spooky mood and want to get chills. While it makes sense to release major horror movies during Fall, there have been many horrors released outside of the October window which have gone on to make it big at the box office. Just look at 2016; The Shallows has made $93 million, The Purge: Election Year has made $105 million and the year's biggest horror so far The Conjuring 2? $319 million.

The original 1999 Blair Witch Project was released in July, and went on to be one of biggest horror movies ever made. To prove this point even further, here are the top grossing horror movies of all time, and when they were released:

  • Sixth Sense ($293 million) - Released in August
  • Jaws ($260 million) - Released in December
  • War of the Worlds ($234 million) Released in June
  • Exorcist ($193 million) - Released in December
  • World War Z ($202 million) - Released in June

As you can see, it's clear that the time of year does not affect horror the way it effects other genres. It's also worth mentioning out that Blair Witch will be released on the same day as Bridget Jones' Baby — another of the year's biggest movies — which suggests perhaps September isn't quite the 'dump month' we thought it was.

But Why Not October?

'Rings' Paramount Pictures
'Rings' Paramount Pictures

Perhaps because October is already so over saturated with great horror, Blair Witch might not get quite so much hype when competing with Rings and 31 in that all-important opening weekend. By releasing it in September, there's a chance it will make more money in the long run. Thanks to its already cult status, it won't take much to get horror-heads into theaters — especially since the movie has already earned 100% 'fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes.

We will have to wait and see whether the September Blair Witch release date will help or hinder its performance, but with any luck, this will be the sequel success story we have all been dreaming of.

Blair Witch will be released in the US on September 16, 2016. In the meantime, let us know if you're excited to see Blair Witch in the comments!

Source: Box Office Mojo. Image courtesy of Lionsgate.