‘A Quiet Place’ Begins ‘Day One’ of Its Franchise Expansion as Prequel Eyes $40 Million Opening

In its multiyear rise from the box office doldrums, Paramount found a hit new horror series with the 2018 film “A Quiet Place.” Six years and one sequel later, it’s time for its expansion into a full-blown franchise to begin in earnest with the spinoff origin film “A Quiet Place: Day One.”

Created by screenwriters Bryan Woods and Scott Beck and brought to the big screen by writer-director John Krasinski, “A Quiet Place” captivated horror fans and mainstream audiences alike with a small scale, tension-filled tale about the Abbott family as they struggle to survive and bring a new child into a world filled with deadly aliens that can hear even the slightest noises. Produced on a thrifty $17 million budget, the film grossed $341 million worldwide, and a sequel was promptly greenlit.

That sequel, released on Memorial Day weekend 2021, became a key early title for theaters as they began the long struggle of recovering the box office after the pandemic shutdown. While COVID cycles hampered the film’s run slightly, it was still a success with $297.3 million grossed worldwide while expanding the world of the franchise.

Now “A Quiet Place: Day One” goes beyond the Abbott family, telling the tale of a woman named Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) as she desperately tries to survive against the aliens as they lay siege to New York in the early days of their invasion. With Michael Sarnoski taking over as writer-director, the spinoff is currently projected for an opening in the $40 million range, which will be equal or slightly lower than the $47 million three-day start of “A Quiet Place — Part II” three years ago.

For Paramount, “Day One” is a test of how interested audiences are in the basic concept of “A Quiet Place” — stay absolutely silent or aliens will quickly kill you — regardless of what protagonists and which actors are featured in it. They’re banking that the appeal will sustain itself, as the series is expanding into various forms of media, including a video game set for release later this year and a maze that will be featured at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.

And of course, there will be one more installment in the main series with Krasinski developing “A Quiet Place — Part III” for theaters next year.

Few franchises, if any, are immune to the law of diminishing returns; and “Day One” is unlikely to be as profitable theatrically as its predecessors as it carries a reported $67 million budget with its scenes of Big Apple destruction. But “Day One” will have a lane to operate in the theatrical market as a PG-13 horror film, as its upcoming horror competition will be A24’s R-rated slasher “MaXXXine” and Neon’s intense psychological horror film “Longlegs,” which will cater more to hardcore fans of the genre.

We’ve seen horror franchises like “Saw” find some degree of box office sustainability while having a constant pop culture presence on an annual basis. Paramount is going to give horror fans all the “Quiet Place” it could want over the next year or so, so we’ll see how it survives the horror stress test.

Also hitting theaters this weekend is Warner Bros.’ “Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1,” the first part of a two-part Western epic that is a passion project of writer, director, co-producer and star Kevin Costner. Carrying a hefty $100 million production budget — $38 million of which came directly from Costner himself with the rest coming from investors and foreign sales — the film is projected to be a box office dud with a $10-12 million opening weekend.

Not helping matters are the mixed reviews the film has received since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, clocking in at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes.

But there is a glimmer of hope. What Warner and Costner are banking on is that “Horizon” will get a foothold with older, male moviegoers, particularly in the central and southeast U.S., that don’t always show up in box office tracking. It was those moviegoers that helped push Angel Studios’ “Sound of Freedom” to its status as one of the biggest indie hits of all time last summer, and Costner, who is bankrolling the film’s marketing campaign, will be relying on them to show up again.

To that end, Costner has gone all out marketing “Horizon” to fans of “Yellowstone,” his hit show with Taylor Sheridan which he recently departed after five seasons. He’s also worked hard on developing partnerships with theater owners, as he received a special honor from the National Association of Theater Owners at CinemaCon and has taped special messages to moviegoers tailored to specific chains.

With Warners only handling distribution on “Horizon” and its follow-up “Horizon — Chapter 2” coming in August, the stakes are higher for Costner, who wants to make two additional films in the series. Slowly developed by Costner over a quarter century, “Horizon” tells the tale of various people looking to start new lives in the American West and explores how the country’s expansion was affected by the Civil War.

Production has started on “Horizon — Chapter 3,” but Costner needs more funding to finish his four-part saga. Whether his films will be able to leg out far enough to get financiers to open their checkbooks is a question that will take the rest of the summer to answer.

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