Horror sure is a lucrative genre. Despite a minuscule budget of $5 million and an abysmal critical response, the 2014 spinoff film of Hasbro's occult Ouija board game garnered over $103 million worldwide. In what seems like the most counter-intuitive marketing tactic of all time, the film featured teens being possessed and murdered by a spirit haunting them through the board. This resulted in a 300 percent spike in Ouija board sales as they became the go-to gift that holiday season. All press is good press, right?
Any way you spell it out, Ouija was an unequivocal financial success, and you don't have to be clairvoyant to know what that means. Universal announced that a sequel was in development for this October, tentatively titled Ouija 2.
In a press release, Universal has revealed the film's official title, Ouija: Origin of Evil, along with a synopsis of the prequel film:
In 1965 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her two daughters add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
Michael Bay (Transformers), Brad Fuller (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)), Andrew Form (The Amityville Horror (2005)), and Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity) are set to return as producers for the prequel. Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) will be taking over directing duties from the original film's screenwriter and first time director Stiles White, with a script that Flanagan co-wrote with Oculus collaborator Jeff Howard.
Despite the negative reviews, Ouija: Origin of Evil will likely continue its winning streak. With its budget receiving only a minor bump to $6 million, even if the film doesn't match the success of the original, it's nearly guaranteed to turn a profit (and likely give another bump to Hasbro's Ouija board sales).
Fortunately, the creative team behind the prequel seems to have a much better track record than the original's. Oculus was terrific, and despite it releasing straight-to-Netflix after a limited film festival run, Flanagan's Hush received overall positive reviews. Origin of Evil is set to star Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight), Henry Thomas (E.T., Gangs of New York), Kate Seigel (Oculus, Hush) and Annalise Basso (Oculus).
It's yet to be seen if audiences will respond positively to the prequel, but a betting man wouldn't be remiss to surmise we've got a new horror franchise brewing here.
Ouija: Origin of Evil will open in theaters October 21, 2016.