In a very bizarre move, Lionsgate decided to bypass mainstream theaters in favor of distributing Clive Barker’s The Midnight Meat Train directly in discount theaters across the nation this past weekend. 102 of them to be exact. I have never heard of this happening before, and it’s definitely a fate this film didn’t deserve. I can’t decide which is worse: This or direct-to-DVD.
I guess the logic is that the film wasn’t marketable to a normal wide audience so why bother spending the money on a traditional marketing campaign. The strategy has seemed to backfire though. This past weekend, Midnight Meat Train grossed a meager $34,394 on its 102 screens. This means the horror film made just $337 per theater in three full days. Considering that it costs around $2,000 or so to manufacture and ship just one print, the studio would have been financially better off to just debut the film directly on DVD.
Lionsgate at one time had a good reputation for making or distributing very profitable ‘R-rated’ genre horror films, especially of the “torture porn” nature with lucrative franchises such as the Saw and Hostel films. But lately, their ‘R’ films haven’t been performing near as well theatrically, and the only Lionsgate horror films that have been are of the ‘PG-13’ variety, such as The Eye.
Box Office Data Source: The Numbers