Could the popular slasher pic have had a bigger opening weekend if it hadn’t debuted at the same time as Peacock?
NEW YORK — No matter how you look at the numbers, “Halloween Ends” had a good weekend.
As the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, the slasher pic earned $41.3 million in ticket sales from 3,901 North American theaters on Sunday, according to studio estimates. It’s the first film to open over $40 million since “Nope” debuted in July and has surpassed its production budget, which was reported to be between $20 and $30 million. Including international appearances, it has a worldwide total of $58.4 million.
“We are incredibly excited that Blumhouse has once again delivered an incredible film and another No. 1,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “Jamie Lee Curtis engaged and terrified audiences across North America.”
The film also reignited an evergreen debate about day-and-date movie releases, with some in Hollywood wondering if it could have been even bigger had it been simulcast on NBC Universal’s streaming service Peacock. Don’t debut.
Going into the weekend, some analysts had projected “Halloween Ends” to open in the $50 to $55 million range. “Halloween Kills,” the previous installment in the “Halloween” trilogy directed by David Gordon Green, opened day and date last year and still grossed $49 million on its opening weekend.
Greene’s first “Halloween,” by contrast, debuted in 2018 to $76.2 million. But it was a highly anticipated revival of a beloved franchise with pre-pandemic, theatrical-only releases and good reviews. However, subsequent “Halloween” films were more divisive among critics and fans. “Kills” had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 39% compared to “Ends” at 40% and still opened over $40 million.
“The day-and-date model has been tested again, but I think it’s a mandate in favor of movie theaters,” said ComScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Audiences had the option of watching it at home but chose to go to the theatre.”
Many studios experimented with day-and-date releases during the second year of the pandemic to varying results, but 2022 has seen most return to traditional theatrical first releases — especially their most valuable ones. For brands and franchises.
Still, it prompted a self-styled “criticism” from filmmaker Christopher Landon, who tweeted this weekend that he felt his horror film “Freaky” would be back in theaters in November 2020. The release time and its broadcast have suffered.
“Stop doing this. Please. It doesn’t work. Studios: Stop gambling with filmmakers and their movies so you can push your new streaming services,” Landon wrote on Twitter. “I begged the studio not to do it… We got hosed.”
While “Halloween Ends” likely had some financial impact, it’s hard to know how much money was left on the table with the release. Peacock is notably smaller than many of its streaming rivals, reporting 13 million paid subscribers at the end of July. Studios also rarely release specific streaming data.
Meanwhile, “Smile” continues to defy the horror movie odds with another strong weekend. The original Paramount thriller added $12.4 million, bringing its domestic total to $71.2 million after three weeks.
Dergarabedian noted that it is rare for two R-rated horror films to top the box office charts.
“The appeal of being scared in the movie theater is the respect of time,” Dergarabedian said. “Throughout the pandemic, horror movies have grossed more than $1 billion, and that’s just domestically.”
Third place for the weekend went to Sony’s “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” down 35 percent from its debut with $7.4 million, while “The Woman King” took its fifth weekend with $3.7 million. came in fourth place, bringing its domestic total to $59.7. Million. “Amsterdam” rounded out the top five in weekend two with $2.9 million.
In limited release, United Artists Releasing’s Mamie Till-Mobley film “TILL” opened strong with $240,940 from just 16 locations. Director Chanunni Chucko’s factual account of Emmett Till’s mother’s quest for justice will unfold in the coming weeks.
“Hats off to producers Barbara Broccoli, Keith Beauchamp, and Whoopi Goldberg who fought for decades to get this film made,” said Eric Loomis, UAR’s president of distribution. “This weekend, the film drew an incredibly diverse, multi-generational audience, playing both ‘smart house’ and commercial locations. We’re off to a great start.”
Focus Features’ “Tár,” another buzzy awards contender, also expanded to 36 theaters this weekend — grossing another $360,000 — and will continue to open in more markets over the next two weeks.
According to Comscore, ticket sales are projected for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada. Final domestic data will be released on Monday.
1. “Halloween’s Over,” $41.3 million.
2. “Smile,” $12.4 million.
3. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” $7.4 million.
4. “The Woman King,” $3.7 million.
5. “Amsterdam,” $2.9 million.
6. “Don’t Worry Darling,” $2.2 million.
7. “Savage,” $1.4 million.
9. “Terrifier 2,” $850,000.
10. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $685,000.