Haunted Mansion Director Disappointed How Barbenheimer Impacted Disney Movie

Haunted Mansion, directed by Justin Simien, had a hauntingly disappointing run at the box office, and he blames the shadow of Barbenheimer for much of its woes.

The horror comedy, inspired by the Disney ride of the same name, features LaKeith Stanfield as Ben, who joins forces with ghost hunters to investigate a single mother’s new, and possibly haunted, home. The film’s financial performance was a nail-biter, earning just $115 million globally against its hefty $150 million budget.


Simien, in conversation with TheWrap, lamented how the simultaneous release of Barbie and Oppenheimer overshadowed his creation. “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.”

He wished his marketing campaign had leveraged the Barbenheimer frenzy to generate more interest. “There’s a lot of folks in the industry that just kept saying, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘That’ll probably not be as big as it sounds like.’ And I was like, ‘It’s going to be huge.’ What ‘Oppenheimer’ did so well — the marketing for ‘Oppenheimer’ embraced the fact that ‘Barbie’ was coming with this gigantic, cultural juggernaut. 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”.

Haunted Mansion faced more than just financial adversity, it received its fair share of unfavorable reviews. The lack of critical acclaim may have contributed to the film’s difficulty in drawing audiences. Additionally, the decision to release it in July, rather than closer to Halloween, might have been a spooky misstep.

Though the prospects of Haunted Mansion 2 appear ghastly, its recent arrival on Disney+ and its physical release on October 17 may breathe new life into it. Like other films, such as Encanto, it could find a second wind in the post-theatrical release phase.

Neha Ahtasham

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