When Halloween Becomes Groundhog Day

Just when you thought it was safe to write off a horror movie franchise that’s now more than forty years old, it comes back to haunt you yet again. Just like its famous lurching hockey-masked star, it would appear that there’s another ‘Halloween’ movie on its way; although we won’t be seeing it this year. 

While there’s been no explicit confirmation that a new movie is in the pipeline, Jamie Lee Curtis and producer Jason Blum have been dropping some fairly heavy hints online. If you’d rather not click through to the link, it’s a picture of Blum and Curtis together, captioned ‘We’re discussing stuff,’ with Curtis holding an action figure of her ‘Halloween’ character Laurie Strode. It’s not exactly subtle. The prospect of a sequel to the 2018 relaunch of the franchise has always seemed like a realistic possibility, given the financial success and critical appreciation of the movie. At the time it was released, Curtis said that doing the new film had re-awoken her passion for the story and the character, so as long as people are willing to spend money on it, there’s no reason not to make it.


A Money Making Empire

The fact that people are willing to spend money on the Halloween franchise has never been in question. Just the fact that it has an action figure range is evidence enough, but the existence of eleven movies points to the fact that audiences haven’t grown tired of what’s basically the same story told over and over again. There’s even an online casino game based on the franchise, using both the iconic theme music and images from the original film. When a movie crosses over to the world of online casino and its sister sites, and it can take the spending power of the people who love the movie with it, it’s a big deal. 

The 2018 revival movie became the second highest-grossing film in the history of the franchise within two weeks of its release, second only to the original – and that’s allowing for the profits of the original to be adjusted for inflation. By the time it came to the end of its theater run, it was the highest-grossing films outright with a box office total of $255m. Given that the budget was a comparatively low $15m, that’s an exponential return on investment. Even if Blum and Curtis hadn’t been overly keen on making a new film, Universal Pictures and Miramax would both have become loud voices in their ears, trying to persuade them that it was a great idea. Factor in the action figures, the licensed casino and video games, the soundtrack, and the repeat value of the previous films in the franchise every year on TV and short cinema runs, and you’re talking big, guaranteed money every twelve months.

What’s Left To Show Us? 

With a new movie now seeming almost inevitable, we find ourselves asking what this old series could show us that it’s never shown us before? As we alluded to at the start of the article, without some fresh impetus, it’s going to feel more like ‘Groundhog Day’ than ‘Halloween,’ telling us the same story over and over again. We know that Laurie will always escape from Michael Myers. We know that however dead Michael might appear to be, he’ll always find a way to come back. We’ve also come to expect our understanding of the previous films to be questioned or kicked aside by new developments. 

By the time David Gordon Green came to write 2018’s Halloween movie, the story of the most famous slasher-killer in cinematic history was a hugely convoluted and implausible one. The films contradicted each other so frequently that it sometimes felt like you needed a timeline to keep track of what was supposed to have happened, and when. Even with that, you couldn’t quite blend the edges together to make a coherent story. Some of the films disregarded some of the previous sequels. The second movie, in particular, has been rendered pointless by everything that’s come since. Faced with this blancmange of storytelling, Green decided to bin absolutely all of it other than the original movie, and tie his sequel directly to that. Nothing that came during the forty years in between counted for anything. Those films were set in a different reality. Green, and by extension ‘Halloween,’ had established a new truth. 

We think that was the right approach to take. After such a gap between films, a relaunch was required. The last thing any potential viewer needs is a requirement to sit through ten films (some of which are abysmal) before they can pick up the story of a new release. The narrative now feels tighter and more plausible, with one glaring issue. At the conclusion of the most recent movie (look away now if you haven’t seen it), Michael had two of his fingers cut off, was stabbed, and then shot in the jaw. After that, he was locked in the basement of a house that was then set on fire. There’s not a lot of wriggle room there for him to escape. Even if he survived the fire, he was fatally wounded. Obviously, he’ll have lived, so it will be interesting to see whether any new film bothers to explain how he got out. 

We’ll Likely Be Waiting A While

As it’s now June 2019, we won’t be getting a new ‘Halloween’ film this year. 2020 seems more plausible, although depending on how advanced the plans that Blum and Curtis are ‘talking about’ might be, 2021 might be equally as likely. Presuming that we do get a new film, and it does well, this legendary horror franchise will then have a platform to go on and potentially have a fiftieth-anniversary installment in 2028. Curtis would still only be seventy by that point, and therefore younger than Harrison Ford will be in the fifth Indiana Jones movie. That’s an astonishing achievement for a film series, perhaps only likely to be matched by ‘Star Wars,’ which should also still be making movies by that point, too. 

‘Star Wars’ and ‘Halloween’ at fifty. Is it just us, or are we all getting really old?

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