Billions are Spent on Costumes for Adults and Pets41 Million Plan on Trick-or-Treating this Halloween
Halloween has been transformed—it is no longer merely a day for candy and superstition; it is a multi-billion-dollar business, according to figures compiled by FEARnet, the cable industry’s premier TV movie network, VOD channel and online portal featuring horror, suspense and thriller content. In 2011, Halloween-related spending neared 7 billion dollars; up from 3.29 billion dollars in 2005. This year, the average person will spend $72.31 on costumes, candy and decorations, and will have an estimated 15,000 pop-up Halloween stores to choose from. Costume sales, alone, for the 41,000,000 potential trick-or-treaters, are expected to rake in one billion dollars for children’s costumes, 1.21 billion dollars for adult costumes and 310 million dollars for pet costumes. And the candy industry stands to make 23% of its annual candy sales during Halloween—the largest of any selling season.
It isn’t surprising that these numbers are so large, when considering the number of people who celebrate Halloween each year. Of the people taking part in the holiday festivities, 43.9% plan to dress in costume; 34.4% plan to throw or attend parties; 49.5% plan to decorate their home or yard; 14.7% plan to dress pets in costumes; 73.5% plan to hand out candy; 47.8% plan to carve pumpkins; and 32.9% plan to take children trick-or-treating. 22.9% plan to visit haunted houses, heading out to one of the 300 theme parks, zoos, aquariums and other entertainment venues holding special Halloween events this season. According to the Haunted House Association, these events stand to generate between $150 million and $200 million dollars in annual revenue for their respective venues.
“People have been selling scares for a long time,” said Peter Block, president and general manager of FEARnet. “That’s why it surprises me that more people don’t realize that this genre isn’t just a Halloween business; it’s a lifestyle. There’s a reason adults spend so much money on costumes each year. We want to revisit what we loved as children. And it transcends cinema, with music, fashion and décor, allowing people to integrate themselves as much or as little as they want.”
“This genre is a passion, and there’s no on/off switch for people’s passions—it doesn’t just start up during October and fade away once November arrives,” Block said. “There’s a constant thirst for it. People love being scared, and they love being scared together—to be able to experience that feeling with others, to share that communal scream. We’re seeing this addressed more and more, especially on TV, where just about every network has a genre show.”
According to a new Nielsen study, there are 91 million TV viewing fans of genre programming* in the U.S. These same fans consistently keep genre movies at the top of the box office and genre programming at the top of the ratings. And these same fans have helped make the FEARnet linear channel and website the premier destinations for genre programming and content, as well as the number one genre website in time spent and uniques among competitor sites**, generating over 650 million orders since its launch.***
While many outlets only seek to tap into this market for one month each year, FEARnet celebrates Halloween 24/7, 365, bringing the world’s largest library of horror, thriller and suspense movies to this generally untapped fanbase all year long. With so many fans, it is clear that this loyal audience is large enough to sustain a standalone genre channel. Furthermore, it is enough to make the channel a viable and lucrative competitor in a landscape where virtually every broadcast and cable network currently has at least one genre program airing in primetime.
Horror films are also popular draws at the box office. Whether they are low-budget indies or blockbuster studio events, they often rank at the top of the weekly domestic totals. This popularity has extended into the worldwide market, as well. On the list of the top five highest-grossing horror film franchises of all time, worldwide, “SAW” has earned $873,319,880; “The Exorcist” has earned $661,478,540; “Scream” has earned $605,365,245; “Friday the 13th” has earned $465,239,523; and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” has earned $455,293,334.
Collectively, these franchises have grossed well over three billion dollars, worldwide. Number seven on the list, the perennial favorite “Paranormal Activity” franchise, has already established itself as a heavy-hitter in the genre, amassing $362,716,975 in four years. At less than nine million dollars behind “Halloween,” “Paranormal Activity” looks to overtake the iconic franchise this month when “Paranormal Activity 4” is released on October 19.
According to the marketing and media magazine, Advertising Age, in 2010, 50% of the movie ticket sales in the days leading up to a major release were bought by horror fans. This is a statistic that has held firmly over the years, as the horror, thriller and suspense genres grossed a total of $3.3 billion dollars at the box office in 2011—the same year that “Paranormal Activity 3” shattered records with the biggest opening weekend for a horror movie in 2011, and the biggest October opening ever, with $52,568,183.00. And in 2012, “The Devil Inside” received the third-best January opening in history, grossing $34.5 million in its opening weekend.
This is a powerful genre with a massive built-in following, and television is finally starting to catch on. In the upcoming 2012 television season, viewers will be treated to 12 different genre programs—“The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” “Grimm,” “Zero Hour,” “The Following,” “Hannibal,” “Revolution,” “666 Park Avenue,” “Fringe,” “True Blood,” and “Vampire Diaries”—airing in primetime. Five of these series will be in their first season. And five of the shows listed will air on standard broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW), with only three programs airing on cable (AMC, HBO and FX).
The season 3 premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” on October 14, set records for the hit series, drawing 10.9 million viewers in its initial airing, including 7.3 million adults 18-49. Both results were a 50% increase over the season 2 premiere. In initial ratings, the episode rated higher than almost all other broadcast TV series, among adults, and set a record for the most-watched basic cable drama episode among total viewers. The seventh season of “Dexter,” which premiered on September 30, attracted 2.4 million viewers in its initial airing at 9 p.m., and tallied 3.04 million viewers, total, for the night. The series enjoyed a 10 percent increase in ratings over the season 6 premiere in 2011, which was previously its highest-rated season premiere to date.
“Horror’s standing in society has always been up and down, with many advertisers choosing to stay away from it,” Block continued. “But, right now, it’s something to be embraced, and advertising is beginning to reflect this, with shows like ‘The Walking Dead’ being used in marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, advertisers are always going to go where the eyeballs are, and FEARnet’s year-round VOD numbers reflect that out collection of eyeballs is constant and sizable.”
(*Source: Nielsen NPower, 9/26/11-4/1/12, Reach (30 minute qualifier), Persons 2+, genre programs on Broadcast & Cable (The River, The Walking Dead, The Fades, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, American Horror Story, True Blood, Teen Wolf, Grimm, Dexter), Live+SD. Combined schedule.)
(**Source: comScore, June 2012)
(***Source: Rentrak, October 2006-June 2012)
(Halloween Facts: Source – Infographic World, NY)