Horror movies were one of the few, the very few, genres to prove successful during the Rona. With most theaters still closed and most audience members staying home, Horror flicks made some bank. How? For one thing, people were starving for entertainment, and those willing to venture forth were grateful to get it. Those movies more than filled the void. And those movies had relatively low budgets. Most Horror flicks do. It’s a recipe for success, as the films are popular and cheap to make. Studios love that.
Most “arthouse” movies are cheap, too. Robert Eggers’ THE WITCH and THE LIGHTHOUSE both delivered big returns on miniscule expenses. THE NORTHMAN, though, is another beast entirely. Unquestionably an arthouse film, it cost a whopping $90 million, and it’s going to prove hard for it to recoup, given that arthouse films by nature are designed to appeal to niche audiences.
THE NORTHMAN is a done deal and has no need for a sequel. It is not franchise material. But what about the next promising arthouse film with a larger budget? Suits-in-offices aren’t likely to sign the check for any such movie. That’s a shame for those of us who can appreciate such fair. Thankfully, movies like the two Eggers made preceding THE NORTHMAN prove that great art can be created with smaller budgets, too.