The boogeymanthe adaptation of a Stephen King short story by Disney arm 20e Century Studios, is getting a theatrical release after initially being created for the company’s streaming service, Hulu.
The move comes after the movie, directed by Rob Savage and produced by 21 Laps, the banner behind it Stranger things, had a surprisingly muscular test screening in December that caused studio executives and producers to rethink their release strategy. (They also showed King the movie, along with the new plans, who gave him a thumbs up.)
The horror thriller will now hit theaters on June 2, 2023.
The move also has echoes of what happened with Smile, the horror movie directed by Parker Finn. That film was originally intended for Paramount+, but a strong test screening changed the course of its fate. Made for just $17 million, the film received a theatrical release from Paramount last fall and became one of the standard bearers of horror’s latest rise as it grossed more than $216 million worldwide.
Horror emerged last year as the only genre other than superheroes to draw audiences to theaters. M3GAN, released by Universal, is the latest film to currently perform above average at the box office and is expected to cross the $100 million mark worldwide every day. A sequel soon followed.
Disney units had some hits of their own that made high watermarks in the scary movie space. Barbarianmade by 20e Century for less than $10 million, made more than $40 million domestically and earned critical acclaim for its director, Zach Cregger. The more arthouse than grindhouse thriller The menu, created by Searchlight, continues to be released and has grossed $77 million worldwide to date.
Boogeyman is based on a rather grim story from his 1978 horror anthology, Night Shift. The movie version, according to the studio, is about a 16-year-old and her younger sister, both still reeling from their mother’s death, who are targeted by a supernatural bogeyman after their father, a psychologist, has an encounter with a desperate patient at home. Chris Messina, Sophie Thatcher, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian, Marin Ireland and Madison Hu star.
The film was shot in New Orleans in the winter of 2022 and is produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, writers of A quiet place fame and Emily Morris are executive producers.