Full steam ahead in The House That Freddy Built.
New Line Cinema, the “House that Freddy Built” recently struck gold again in the horror genre with Lights Out. The low-budget $5M film took in an above-projected opening weekend gross of $21.6M and then dropped a mere 46% the following week. The film has legs and it’s already taken in about $64.7M worldwide. We’ve been here before, not just with Freddy, but with The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity and many, many more. You know what numbers like those mean – sequels!
Indeed, New Line wasted little time announcing a follow-up last Wednesday, not even waiting for second-weekend grosses to come in. And in a world where the Paranormal Activity franchise has taken in almost $890M worldwide, it’s a good bet the studio is banking on further trips to the well. Here’s an exclusive look forward at the franchise.
Lights Out 2: The Beginning (2017) — Where else would we go in a first sequel than back to the beginning to see how it all started. How did Sophie meet Diana? What was their friendship like? How did Diana die? I mean… we know most of these answers, but we’ll get to SEE them. Along the way, the film raises more questions and deepens the mythology about who and what Diana is. This is Diana’s story, and she comes out of the shadows in this one.
Lights Out 3: The Return (2018) — So the first sequel does decent at the box office, but there’s the sense bringing back everyone people loved in the first film is what the audience really wants. Diana is back to terrorize Rebecca and the other survivors, and since letting her talk worked wonders for her backstory, she’s incredibly chatty. The tension is cut with humor and Diana’s “I see you, can you see me?” sing-song taunt becomes a summer catchphrase.
Lights Out: Darkness Rising (2021) — The first three films form a loose trilogy, and seemingly close out the story of Diana in a completely satisfying way. However, the third film is the biggest grossing of them all, so the saga must continue. With the original creative team gone, the reigns are handed to a Hungarian writer/director to tell a tangential tale of a Night Terror creature similar to Diana. No one from the earlier films appears, save for mentions in a police file about the original Diana killings.
Lights Out: The Bitch is Back (2023) – The fourth film sank fast at the box office, but the massive opening convinced New Line they hadn’t yet pulped this pony. Diana is resurrected and gains a new attitude after befriending a modern mean girl. High schools worst elements— bullies, incessant smartphone users, smug geeks, and loose types of both genders get sliced and diced. Diana is a cut-up in more ways than one as this new modern and edgy incarnation is never without a razorsharp comeback.
Lights Out… In Space (2027) — Diana has at last found an aged Martin, now an astronaut, and what better hunting ground for a creature of darkness than a state-of-the-art NASA space shuttle as it prepares to orbit the dark side of the moon? The humor of the previous film gives way to full-blown camp, and the shifting trends in the horror market keep this film on the shelf for an additional 18 months until it’s quietly dumped in January.
Lights Out: Rebirth (2031) – This 15th anniversary celebration of the original film is a re-quel, a sequel that’s essentially a remake of the first film, but with Rebecca now occupying the role her mother did, as a more terrifying Diana returns again to bedevil a Rebecca who’s barely clinging to her own sanity. The record-opening for the franchise kicks off a new trend in horror of serious, character-driven, microbudgets… at least until they spawn franchises of their own.