It was a Nightmare at the box office this weekend.
Specifically, the remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror flick A Nightmare on Elm Street slashed the competition. The movie raked in an estimated $32.2 million—and that despite the fact that mainstream critics treated the film about the same way Freddy Krueger treats his victims.
Coming in at second was How to Train Your Dragon (still going strong with an estimated $10.8 million in its sixth weekend), followed by Date Night and The Back-up Plan. The weekend’s only other wide-release debut, Furry Vengeance, clocked in at No. 5—perhaps proving that people actually do listen to movie critics at least some of the time.
So what are we to make of Freddy’s ongoing popularity 26 years after his nightmarish debut? If anything, Nightmare’s strong showing at the box office reinforces two longstanding trends. High-profile horror movies are often bulletproof, and nostalgia, even when it comes to a B-movie franchise like Elm Street, can be a powerful force. As movie critic Susan Granger of the SSG Syndicate noted, “Never has the lure of the recognizable been more obvious than in this familiar yet forgettable reboot of Wes Craven’s 1980s horror franchise.”
And speaking of nostalgia, Nightmare is kicking off what’s likely to be a big summer for ’80s retreads. Also coming down the pike in the next couple months are The A-Team and The Karate Kid. And 2011 will see a remake of Footloose.
This trend is nothing new, of course. But it seems that with each passing year, every remotely successful franchise or TV show from the ’70s and ’80s is getting another look.