- Director Justin Simien expresses disappointment in the competition his film, Haunted Mansion, faced, acknowledging the impact of Barbie and Oppenheimer on its box office performance.
- The film's box office flop can be attributed to negative reviews and a July release date that didn't align with the movie's haunted house theme.
- While Haunted Mansion's initial release was hindered, there is still potential for success through Disney+ and future post-theatrical releases.
Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien has expressed his disappointment in the competition his horror comedy had to contend with due to "Barbenheimer." Based on the Disney ride of the same name, the film stars LaKeith Stanfield as Ben, who helps a single mother enlist a group of ghost hunters to help investigate her new home. The movie was a box office failure, earning $115 million globally against an estimated $150 million budget.
Speaking with TheWrap, Simien explained how he knew early on that Barbie and Oppenheimer's dual releases would cause the Haunted Mansion box office to wither. He expressed regret at how the campaign for his film didn't try to utilize the Barbenheimer phenomenon to drum up interest. Check out what Simien had to say below:
I think the release date was really tough — I saw ‘Barbie’ coming from miles away. I was disappointed by some aspects of our release, but I was not really surprised.
There was a lot of stuff going on with the strike…a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with the movie that I think really got in the way, and that was frustrating to see because I came up in publicity. If you had asked me and sat down with me…I would have seen some of these things coming. I’ll put it that way.
There’s a lot of folks in the industry that just kept saying, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘That’ll probably not be as big as it sounds like.’ And I was like, ‘It’s going to be huge.' What ‘Oppenheimer’ did so well — the marketing for ‘Oppenheimer’ embraced the fact that ‘Barbie’ was coming with this gigantic, cultural juggernaut. I don’t know that our campaign necessarily embraced or acknowledged that we were essentially coming out in the shadow of what was clearly such a box office phenomenon.
Why Haunted Mansion Became A Box Office Flop
Alongside failing to earn a profit at the box office, Haunted Mansion had many negative reviews the director had to take in stride as well. Because the film didn't have the same critical success as Barbie and Oppenheimer, it likely wasn't able to draw as many people to see it in theaters. The movie's performance may have also been hindered by a July release, despite its focus on a haunted house being more suitable for a release closer to Halloween.
However, that doesn't mean the Barbenheimer success didn't have an impact on Haunted Mansion's struggles. It's possible that if the film tried to address the much larger competition through its advertising campaign, it could have garnered more attention during its time in theaters. Even so, it's unclear if the movie would be able to break even, since the enormous $150 million budget does not include the cost for advertisements.
While the movie's box office failure likely means Haunted Mansion 2 likely isn't happening, its release on Disney+ earlier this month and physical release on October 17 could still earn some success. If so, then the movie could mimic films like Encanto by finding new life in its post-theatrical release. Despite how hindered Haunted Mansion was in its initial release, it could still earn success through other venues in the near future.