Sunday night at SXSW Lionsgate finally began its long campaign to build You’re Next into a potential late summer hit. Adam Wingard’s slasher pic was the toast of the 2011 Toronto Midnight Madness line-up (see Mike Fleming’s report on its hot sale to Lionsgate here). But a few months later Lionsgate merged with Summit and the indie horror got bumped down the priority line. A year after inking the deal, the studio set the family home invasion pic for August 2013 — a two year delay that could have been (and still might be) the kiss of death to all the buzz shored up from its handful of film festival screenings.
But Joss Whedon‘s Cabin In The Woods had its debut at SXSW last year following an even longer delay and went on to make a modest $66.4 million opening in April. Lionsgate, however, is releasing You’re Next on August 23 in what insiders see as the more advantageous frame. That’s near where its Possession opened at #1 in 2012. I hear the plan is to screen You’re Next at festivals, conventions, and buzz screenings between now and August, but despite its status in the genre world it’s R-rated, has a generic sounding title, and features a cast of non-marquee indie stars (plus Step Up 3D‘s Sharni Vinson). The film is opening wide against YA adaptation Mortal Instruments a week before The Weinstein Co.’s Haley Bennett-starrer Satanic. If it performs well, more installments may follow.