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Horror comes to Hollywood's rescue

Finding dependable, bankable box-office hits for anything without a superhero has been a downright scary proposition for Hollywood.

The solution, it turns out, is a nightmare, too.

Horror has emerged as one of the most lucrative and in-demand genres in Hollywood, a box-office success story as well as - thanks to a new generation of ambitious genre filmmakers - a creative one.

For an industry that has struggled to find areas of growth outside of the pages of comic books, it's now hailing slashers as saviors.

"Right now it's pretty obvious what audiences want," says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "People want their horror fast and cheap. And that should be music to the ears of studios."

It certainly was to Paramount Pictures - the most hit-starved of the major studios - when John Krasinski's "A Quiet Place" last weekend blew away expectations to debut with $US50.2 million.

Despite costing only $US17 million to make, the expertly sound-designed suspense film may pass $US100 million over this weekend.

For the ascendant genre, this Friday the 13th will be a victory lap.

Also opening will be "Truth or Dare," the latest from Blumhouse Productions, the horror factory that has done more than any other to lead today's renaissance.

While the economics of horror have been appreciated by the movies since at least "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" almost a century ago, Blumhouse has reinvigorated the genre by pairing $US5 million-or-less budgets with filmmakers eager to push the genre forward.

That's a drastically different strategy in tentpole-obsessed, risk-adverse Hollywood.

The goliath of the industry, the Walt Disney Co., doesn't even make horror films, making it one of the few movie realms its intellectual property-backed blockbusters don't dominate.

Depending on what you classify as horror, the genre last year accounted for about $US800 or $US900 million in domestic box office, one of the highest totals in decades if not ever.

© AP 2018