A disturbing rumor popped across my desk at HHNU HQ this week, and its something that the long-term purist HHN fans may not be too happy about…
The rumor originates from a number of sources and was discussed on the latest Jim Hill podcast The Universal Joint. Jim refers to information he had been passed from Shelley Caran of icflorida.com where Universal are seemingly interested in toning down the level of horror at Halloween Horror Nights to make the event more family friendly – though Jim stresses 13 and up family friendly.
It was our boss Christopher Ripley who first broke the news on the show Universal After Dark where he raised his concerns of how Warner Bros for this year appear to be keeping their properties for exclusive use in their new Hollywood event Horror Made Here. Whereas last year’s HHN27 had The Shining, Texas Chain Saw and Trick r Treat (all Warners’ properties) this year only has Trick r Treat as a property from Warner (though some commentators says that TrT is now a Universal property as Legendary has moved from Warners to Universal. They are also working on TrT 2 right now too!).
Warner’s properties for their 2018 Hollywood exclusive event include: the DC universe villains, Friday 13th, the new IT movie, Freddy Kruger, Conjuring, The Nunn and The Exorcist. Ripley said that he was concerned that if Warner’s event was successful, could this possibly lead to Warner’s preventing their vast horror catalogue from ending up at HHN in the future (remember Warner’s own New Line Cinema too).
Jim says via his show that perhaps the best way to counter this move would be to re-focus our beloved HHN event so a more family friendly approach is taken. He cites the fact that Stranger Things at HHN28 is so genre and sphere redefining that it is now blurring the lines of horror/sci-fi/drama and with its huge audience of fans it wont be just be the diehard horror fans that are currently sweeping into the turnstiles for HHN28. Jim also says that fans shouldn’t be surprised if Stranger Things also returns for HHN29.
This all combines with an article we shared this week where Universal has now moved the popular Christian Rock Festival Rock the Universe from its September slot allowing HHN29 and on wards to start earlier in the season. This would allow HHN dates to directly compete with Disney Halloween party dates (for which start in August no less!)
Could houses be scaled with how scary they are where less scary houses could be presented? Longtime HHN devotee and movie director Eli Roth has a brand new Universal picture coming out very soon with The House with a Clock in Its Walls. This family adventure movie combines full on fantasy with some horror type elements (the latter of which Roth is better known for). Jim asks on his show could this type of movie be repurposed for a future house at HHN? Apparently he will next be working on another ‘family friendly horror movie’ with Aleister Arcane, which is being touted as Jim Carrey’s big comeback movie and it is being produced by longtime Universal collaborators Amblin.
So all this being said is Jim Hill right? Could HHN29 and on wards be more geared towards a larger more family encompassing audience? Would toning the horror down slightly be a good move if it draws more people through the gates?
Let us know what you think!