Five Nights at Freddy’s, a cult-like franchise ready to take over Hollywood.

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"Five Nights at Freddy's" video game (Photo courtesy by ScottGames)

“Five Nights at Freddy’s”, made a hot-ticket box office splash after its anticipated theatrical release on Oct. 27. Although, animatronic pizza joint robots doesn’t sound like the standard horror film, the cult-like horror-survival video game franchise made its way to the movie screens and brought its magnitude of avid fans with it.

The movie is produced by Universal and Blumhouse and seemed to be faithful to the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video game, which was an immediate hit when the game was released in 2014. Aware of the big fanbase the franchise has, it seems as though Universal and Blumhouse were still unsure if the film would attract a broader audience, so the movie was also available on Peacock. However, the movie became a box-office hit despite not being played exclusively in theaters. 

According to the New York Times, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” sold an estimated $78 million in tickets during the first weekend of its release. The movie broke records for Blumhouse as it became the highest opening in its 23-year history, surpassing “Halloween” which made $76 million in domestic sales in 2018. The film of the video game franchise even overtook “The Exorcist: Believer” in ticket sales. “The Exorcist,” a critically acclaimed 50-year-old horror movie series, only collected $26.5 million in ticket sales within the first three days of its release. 

In the game “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” users play as Mike Smidt, a night guard who is tasked with caretaking the animatronics at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. During the day, the giant animatronics are fun and beloved by families that visit the pizza joint, but at night, the animatronics “free-roam” with murderous intent. Playing as Mike Schmidt, users must survive five nights with Freddy Fazbear and his killer animal cohorts in a creepy building as they steadily level up their murderous methods.

Karina Luna, a student at UNLV, is one of the many fans of the franchise from the very beginning because of the game’s one-of-a-kind abstraction of horror games. Luna says, “I am a huge fan of the game and the franchise. To me, it is very nostalgic, and it is the first of its kind in terms of horror games. A lot of horror games are dystopian, but this is a different concept [with] animatronics.”

The game is translated to the big screen with a few key differences. Similar to the game, the movie is focused on the survival of the night guard, Mike, who is played by Josh Hutcherson, known for his role in the “Hunger Games.” However, the stakes are increased in the movie by giving Mike a daughter, Abby, and bringing her into the funhouse filled with barbaric animatronics. 

Although the game stays faithful to the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” lore, some fans were upset by the PG-13 rating of the movie. The younger rating of the movie altered the expectations for the movie for the generation of fans who grew up playing the game. However, despite the rating, the live adaptation of the game still met the approval of fans. After watching “Five Nights at Freddy’s” come to life on the big screen, Luna explains her satisfaction with the film.

“I knew it was going to be PG-13, so I wasn’t coming with big expectations of the movie being sufficient to the games. The games are scary, there is a lot of gore and I knew the movie wasn’t going to be able to replicate that … I did like the movie though. I knew it wasn’t going to be super scary because of the rating. If you were someone going into it with a big expectation of the movie following the game, then I can see why a lot of people didn’t like it because they were expecting a scary movie with a lot of gore and blood everywhere. But I thought it was good.”

It seems that many fans enjoyed the movie despite critics giving it low ratings. The movie received a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes; however, ticket buyers on CinemaScore gave the film an “A-.” The film became a cinematic event for fans, as many teenagers and young adults attended in groups in costumes relating to the franchise. Similar to how the game changed the culture of mainstream horror games, it seems that “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is on track to evolve the culture of horror flicks in Hollywood as well. In a recent interview with Variety, the director of the blockbuster movie Emma Tammi teases the idea of a sequel, “This one was tied into the first game, and we would probably focus on tying the second one into the second game, and so on and so forth. But anything could happen. We’ll have to see.”

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