‘Terrifier 3’: Cineverse Acquires North American Rights; Director Reveals How He’s Planning to Top Gory Sequel: ‘I Can’t Let the Fans Down’ (EXCLUSIVE)

‘Terrifier 3’: Cineverse Acquires North American Rights; Director Reveals How He’s Planning to Top Gory Sequel: ‘I Can’t Let the Fans Down’ (EXCLUSIVE)

June 12, 2023

Art the Clown is ready to cause more mayhem.

Cineverse Corp. announced that it has secured North American rights to slasher sequel “Terrifier 3,” from series writer and director Damien Leone and producer Phil Falcone. The film is scheduled to have a wide theatrical release next year in North America, followed by its exclusive debut on Cineverse’s streaming service Screambox.

Produced for less than $250,000, “Terrifier 2” went on to make $15 million at the worldwide box office. It also became a much-discussed viral sensation, as fans took to social media to share the parts that disgusted them most.

After its theatrical run, “Terrifier 2” went to Screambox and “substantially” increased subscriptions, according to the company.

“It achieved revenues of roughly 60 times the production cost and was powered almost exclusively by social marketing,” Cineverse chairman and CEO Chris McGurk said in a statement. “We are thrilled that Damien and Phil have chosen to stay true to the franchise and keep the film uncut and independent vs. going the studio route. We aim to make this film the centerpiece of our releasing strategy which is focused on creator-friendly collaboration to generate fan-favorite franchises and remakes that work theatrically and drive streaming subscription revenues. This time, we are planning a wide theatrical release for ‘Terrifier 3’ as we are confident that the film will deliver yet another unparalleled horror experience. We eagerly anticipate the creative vision that Damien and Phil will unleash upon audiences when we bring ‘Terrifier 3’ to the big screen in the fall of 2024.”

The rights agreement was negotiated by Brandon Hill, director of acquisitions, on behalf of Cineverse, and by Priscilla Ross Smith of The Coven on behalf of the filmmakers. Leone is currently represented by WME.

Ahead of the announcement, Leone spoke with Variety about the third chapter.

How will “Terrifier 3” build off of “Terrifier 2”?

Once I figured out what Part Two was, I knew it was going to be at least a trilogy, so I’ve been working on this since I completed Part Two. Even while I was writing Part Two, I actually had scenes that I’d already written for Part Three because I knew where it was going to go. I want to shift back a bit to the tone of Part One, which I felt was a little more simplistic and old school, gritty slasher. I want this one to go back in that direction, and I want this to be the scariest one of the trilogy. This one will actually have a little bit more of an evil overtone to it, so this is going to be hopefully the scariest and the darkest. I want it to feel as if the audience coming into this one isn’t as comfortable with Art the Clown as they feel they are now. I want to see if I can make them really scared of him again.

Given the notoriety of the gore in the second film, do you feel pressure to top yourself in “Terrifier 3”?

Always. There’s sleepless nights sometimes where, “Oh my God, I can’t let the fans of this franchise down.” They always come to expect the next big kill scene, the next big gory set piece. How am I going to top the now-infamous hacksaw scene in Part One, and now the second movie? I get asked at the conventions, “How are you going to top the bedroom scene?” I always want to swing for the fences and try and see if I could outdo myself from the the previous installment.

There was actually a kill that I was going to put in “Terrifier” that happened to Jenna Kanell’s character Tara. After the hacksaw scene, it was another torture scene. I knew putting those back-to-back was going to completely lose the audience because it would be way too much to handle. So that was a kill that I kept on the back burner… I didn’t even put it in Part Two. So that’s one I may explore. But there’s another one I thought of about a month ago, where it clicked and I said “That’s going to be the next bedroom kill scene” — you’ll know it when you see it. I can’t say for sure I’ll ever top any of these scenes — it’s always going to be subjective — but you will know it when you see it.

“Terrifier 2 is now streaming in several places and easily available to watch. Are you getting a second wave of reactions to the film?

I always like exploring social media, going on Twitter, putting the hashtags in to see if any new videos pop up on YouTube. I get a kick out of all that stuff and I’m so grateful when I see it, even if it’s negative, because I try and turn that into a positive. I try and get a consensus of what’s not working for some people, if it’s something I could potentially course-correct. If you just don’t like gore or slashers, I can’t help you, but if there is a constructive piece of criticism I can take away, I love doing that.

Has there been any constructive criticism you’ve taken away from fan reaction to “Terrifier 2” that you’re keeping in mind for “Terrifier 3”?

I wanted Part Two to have a “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” vibe to it. That was my tone in the back of my head and I knew I was really going to embrace this supernatural and fantasy element. I also knew I was going to alienate a handful of fans going that route. I personally love it. There’s a lot of people who didn’t love the fantasy, or at least they need more explanation as to why that’s all happening. I didn’t want to explain everything in Part Two, so I am going to explain as we go. But the biggest mistake I could do now is double-down on that fantasy aspect. That’s why I want to course-correct a bit; let’s go back to “Nightmare on Elm Street” Part One, as opposed to going further into “Dream Warriors.” That could be very helpful criticism and help me make a better movie moving forward. But we’ll see.

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