Haunted Mansion had a July 28th release date competing with the likes of Barbenheimer. Isn’t it strange that the studio’s return to gateway horror had a summer release compared to a fall release for Halloween? Well, Haunted Mansion director Justin Simien reflected on his movie’s theatrical summer release date as it arrives on Disney+ streaming for a spooky October.
To start off the spooky month of October, Haunted Mansion made its way to Disney+. Although, it doesn’t make sense why it wasn’t the film’s original release month plan for theaters. After all, it would have given families an excuse to visit theaters during Halloween and get into the holiday spirit. We’re not the only ones disappointed in Haunted Mansion’s July 28th release. Director Justin Simien spoke to The Wrap about the challenges he had to face during the summer.
I think the release date was really tough – I saw Barbie coming from miles away. I was disappointed by some aspects of our release, but I was not really surprised. I don't know that our campaign necessarily embraced or acknowledged that we were essentially coming out in the shadow of what was clearly such a box office phenomenon.
It’s rare for a scary Disney movie to have a summer release, with the exception of 1993’s Hocus Pocus. Barbie and Oppenheimer were setting new box office records for the year at unexpected, multimillion rates. No one would have thought two completely different movies with the same release date would lead to a moviegoing phenomenon.
According to Variety, the then-upcoming Disney movie had a July release date to take advantage of the kids being off from school for summer vacation. But as families were doing what they could to escape the heat, they weren’t exactly in the mood to feel spooked. Plus, there was the SAG-AFTRA strike, which was authorized weeks before Haunted Mansion’s release date. This meant that Haunted Mansion's cast wasn’t allowed to promote the movie. It appears that everything was just bad timing.
Disney’s reboot debuted at $24.1 million, landing in third place with Barbenheimer right in front. It can be easy to ponder what the fate of Haunted Mansion would have been like if it stayed away from the summer month. Fortunately for Justin Simien, he’s just thinking about people seeing the movie now on streaming as they have a spooktacular Halloween mindset.
I certainly have heard the feeling from a lot of folks, and I can't say I disagree. This is a much better time to receive a movie like this. I think with the movie coming out now... I think everyone's head is in the right space. It's just Halloween. It's the season you want to kick back with your family.
The Dear White People director has said he’s very “proud” of Haunted Mansion's success. The critics may have had a range of mixed emotions watching the movie, but audiences had an entertaining time. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a low rating of 37% from critics, but an 84% from audiences. What people were saying about the ride-inspired horror comedy was that there were a lot of laughs, spooks, and heart that made the movie all the more enjoyable. Others, of course, couldn’t help but see the Disney movie as a love letter to the beloved theme park ride. That's a real compliment, as that was Simien's "beef" with the 2003 version. With a spine-tingling mindset for October, those at home can curl up with their families to watch a fun movie for a Merry Halloween.
Justin Simien’s Haunted Mansion may have faced some side blocks having a summer release, but I’d like to believe this movie will have more of an audience now as with everyone getting into the Halloween spirit at home. Experience some ghostly supernatural energy with Haunted Mansion available now with your Disney+ subscription.