The average price of a used car in the U.S. is somehow just a hair under $30,000 in the first month of 2023. Consider that, for a moment, when you compare it to the $15,000 budget that was used in the creation of indie horror sensation Skinamarink. This 100-minute, thoroughly unconventional and divisive (but also terrifying) film has drawn both critical acclaim and audience consternation while receiving an improbable theatrical release, for roughly half the price of a used Subaru Outback.
In terms of profit, though, Skinamarink has already vaulted itself into rarified air. Over the long holiday weekend, the film raked in more than $890,000 across 692 U.S. screens, becoming the latest indie horror success story. Granted, those aren’t the kinds of massive numbers generated by a sensation like the original Paranormal Activity in 2009, but Skinamarink is a much stranger, more experimental film that built its audience almost entirely via word of mouth after a leaked copy hit the internet. This film is an aberration to the theatrical norm, which makes it all the more impressive that it reportedly sold out multiple shows this weekend in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
This kind of return on investment—that’s an almost 60x rate of return for Skinamarink in a single weekend—calls to mind the great box office success of Damien Leone’s ultra gory slasher Terrifier 2 this past October, which was made on a $250,000 budget but ultimately racked up more than $12.9 million at multiplexes. Skinamarink, however, has bested that rate of return in a single weekend, so you have to figure it will probably cruise past the $1 million mark this week in theaters where it’s still playing. The film is lined up to hit horror streamer Shudder at some unspecified date later in 2023.
For now, we’ll just say congratulations to director Kyle Edward Ball, who we can only imagine would never have anticipated this outcome when he was shooting Skinamarink for $15,000 in his own childhood home. It’s yet another indication of the love and support that indie horror cinema receives from its fans worldwide.