Five Nights at Freddy’s Opening Weekend Success: Unpacking its Audience
2023 has seen several major video game adaptations find success since The Super Mario Bros. Movie hit the big screen early in the year. Five Nights at Freddy's, the latest video game to film adaptation, saw a monstrous debut at the US box office—grossing $80M in the domestic market, and a further $52.7M internationally—achieving the highest opening weekend of the year for a horror film, and the second-highest debut of all time for a video game adaptation.
Video game film adaptations have had mixed history, but recent years have seen a surge in their success, so what made this latest title such a hit on its opening weekend? We examined the varied audiences from across the US over Five Nights at Freddy's opening weekend in Movio's Research Console, identifying valuable marketing opportunities that could attract even more audiences to come out to see the title.
Five Nights at Freddy's sees an interesting intersection of genres in its similar titles. Given its classification as a horror film, it's unsurprising to see recent horror titles Saw X and The Nun II identified as similar titles. But we also see five animated titles alongside them, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (the most similar audience, with a 20% overlap), The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.
While on the surface the cross-over may be difficult to see between horror, animated titles, and specifically video game animated titles, each of these genres draws a young audience. Horror as a genre tends to attract a younger audience, with 47% aged under 25 vs the benchmark of 34% for all movies recorded in Movio's Research Console. Five Nights at Freddy's was even more-so with 58% of it audience aged under 25. Animation also leans younger, but the specific video game adaptations among them (The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2) saw over 30% of their audience aged under 18, above the 22% benchmark for all films, which may attribute the even bigger audience of young moviegoers for Five Nights at Freddy's.
Teenagers (12-17) represented 21% of the opening weekend audience for Five Nights at Freddy's. In comparison, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse had only 12% of it audience in this age group, and had higher attendance from the 2-11 age group instead. Despite both its horror status and Five Nights at Freddy's PG-13 rating, the film attracted a high proportion of the 2-11 age group, suggesting that there is equal appeal for both horror fans and young fans of the video game. After seeing The Super Mario Bros. Movie draw 29% of its audience in the 2-11 age group, it is another example of where video game adaptations are finding success—with younger audiences.
Five Nights at Freddy's drew primarily Infrequent* moviegoers, who represented 45% of its opening weekend audience (15% above the benchmark for all films). This is closely comparable to similar animated titles The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which both over-indexed with Infrequent moviegoers. As we observed in both of these films' release cycles, we can anticipate that the proportion of Infrequent moviegoers will likely rise for Five Nights at Freddy's in the coming weekends.
Conversely, when compared to its similar titles from the horror genre—Saw X and The Nun II—these titles attracted more Frequent moviegoers, with both having at least 11% higher representation from Frequent moviegoers than Five Nights at Freddy's. This is typical of the horror genre, which excels in drawing Frequent moviegoers, with an average of 36% compared to a benchmark of 31%.
Leveraging audience insights for impactful marketing
Five Nights at Freddy’s attracted a high proportion of Infrequent moviegoers in its opening weekend, which is akin to other video game adaptations mentioned above. However, its horror element presents a unique opportunity for marketers to tap into new audiences by targeting Frequent moviegoers who are fans of the horror genre.
The genre typically sees an overrepresentation of the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, and while Five Nights at Freddy’s has already enticed the 18-24 age group, there remains an opportunity to increase attendance from the latter group, especially those who recently watched Saw X or The Nun II. This age group is currently under-represented (6% below benchmark) despite having a strong presence in these two comparable horror titles.
Movio's Research product provides movie marketers with rich insights like these, helping to uncover audience opportunities and similarities that enable you to make the most of your movie marketing. If you are interested in learning more, reach out to us today, and to see more of the types of insights Movio Research can provide, see our weekly audience analysis with Weekend Insights, with new audience insights available every week.
*Frequency is based on a moviegoers' six-month session count:
< 2 = Infrequent
2-5 = Occasional
6-25 = Frequent
26+ = Very Frequent