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Stephen King Adaptation ‘The Boogeyman’ Gets the ‘Smile’ Treatment in Pivot from Streaming

Rob Savage's horror film will now open in theaters on June 2 rather than on Hulu.

Stephen King The Boogeyman

Stephen King

Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A film adaptation of the Stephen King short story “The Boogeyman” is moving away from a planned streaming release on Hulu and will now be a theatrical release from 20th Century Studios, an individual with knowledge of the move told IndieWire. It will open June 2, 2023.

“The Boogeyman” is directed by Rob Savage (“Host”) and is based on King’s story, in which a 16-year-old and her younger sister, reeling from the death of their mother, are targeted by a supernatural boogeyman after their father, a psychologist, has an encounter with a desperate patient in their house. The horror-thriller stars Chris Messina, Sophie Thatcher, Vivien Lyra Blair, David Dastmalchian, Marin Ireland, and Madison Hu. The film is produced by Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps banner alongside Dan Levine and Dan Cohen, with “A Quiet Place” writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods serving as executive producers. Emily Morris also executive produces.

The shift from streaming to theatrical speaks to an emerging trend as executives try to find the right alchemy of movies that will actually work at the box office.

The last movie that made a killing after jumping from streaming to theatrical was 2022’s “Smile,” which through a combination of viral marketing, lack of studio product, and timing (a horror movie smartly coming out in October), wound up making $216 million worldwide on a $17 million budget. It made Paramount look like geniuses in a year where they also had “Top Gun: Maverick” and several other No. 1 hits.

So when it comes to “The Boogeyman,” there are a couple of factors at play, the success of “Smile” being one of them. Executives are increasingly looking at ways in which mid-budget movies made in a previous regime under streaming can be repurposed for a theatrical release, with the hopes that it helps the cause later once it does wind up on streaming. Warner Bros.’ “House Party” is another example of a film that jumped from HBO Max to theaters, though that film has only made $5.2 million worldwide thus far.

Another is that execs at 20th Century seem to think it’s pretty good, and so does Stephen King. The individual added that “The Boogeyman” tested extremely well back in December, and King himself gave it his stamp of approval, all of which factored into making the move. As for its placement on the calendar, “The Boogeyman” will open as counter-programming to “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and in between other Disney tentpole releases for the summer such as “The Little Mermaid” on May 26, Pixar’s “Elemental” on June 16, and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” on June 30.

You might also have noticed that horror films are just about the only thing not superheroes or giant blue creatures that is really clicking with audiences at the box office. “M3GAN” has already made $97 million worldwide. Movies like “Barbarian” have done well and see their fortunes only continue to rise now that they’re available on streaming. Searchlight’s “The Menu” is still going strong at the box office with $78 million worldwide, while also available on streaming.

And don’t forget that this may be by design with the return of Bob Iger. One of his first moves in return as CEO was to break down the structure established by his predecessor Bob Chapek, which put the decisions on whether a project would go theatrical or streaming with a division called DMED, not the creative divisions themselves. It’s possible “The Boogeyman” decision could be an early outcome of that restructuring.

THR first reported the news of the film’s shift.

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