Fright Nights: Horror Films Come Out to Haunt in October

Fright Nights: Horror Films Come Out to Haunt in October

You’ve got the pumpkins, the costume and the candy, but have you got a blood-curdling movie to round out your Halloween evening?

Halloween and horror films go hand in hand, and the spookiest holiday of the year typically brings a month-long bevy of spine-tingling options for fans of the macabre. In fact, 46% of U.S. adults say they’re very likely to watch horror movies this month, with dads aged 18-34 being among the most likely to watch. Of those who are likely to watch, a majority say they either plan to buy a physical DVD/Blu-ray to watch (36%), or plan to stream their picks through an online streaming subscription service such as Netflix or Hulu Plus (44%).

While some movie genres can be enjoyed alone, most U.S. viewers say they prefer to watch horror movies with company: 27% watch with friends and 38% watch with spouses/significant others. Additionally, African-Americans are more likely to make it a family affair than Caucasians or Hispanics.

Scaring Up Sales

Although horror titles’ market share is lower than those from more mainstream genres, their stake in the October movie pie is growing. Overall, the horror genre accounted for 4.4% of the total physical market (based on units sold). In October, however, they accounted for 9.9%, up from 8.1% in 2011. And given the receptive audience this time of year, it’s no trick that a wealth of new horror titles hit the market in October. Last year, 122 horror titles were released in October—14% of the horror titles released all year and nearly twice the monthly average for the rest of the year. While non-major studios release the majority of horror titles, non-major studio releases represent just 20% of total units sold.

In terms of who’s shopping to get scared, buyers of horror titles tend to be females age 12-24 and males 18-24 who live in an upper- and lower-class lifestyle segments heavily populated with young singles and divorced retirees.

Digital buyers skew heavily toward females age 18-24, but also include females age 25-34. Digital is also more popular among males 18-24 than physical discs are. Buyers of physical discs are more likely to be females under the age of 24. Additionally, Hispanics are more likely than the general population to purchase the physical disc than stream horror titles.

Horror Rules in the Scary Southwest

While consumers in the country’s largest Designated Market Areas (DMAs) purchase the most horror titles in terms of pure unit sales, consumers in southeast rural DMAs buy a greater amount in terms of the percentage of total sales than other DMA areas.

So with heaps of new and classic titles to choose from, horror fans across the country have plenty to be thankful for this month. And with more ways to access their favorite titles than ever, there’s certainly no shortage of ways for them to catch a fright—on Halloween or any other time of year.


The insights in this article were derived from Nielsen VideoScan, Nielsen MarketNavigator and a Nielsen Home Entertainment Tracking Omnibus Survey fielded the week of Oct. 6, 2014.