“Halloween Ends” slayed the box office competition, collecting $41.25 million from 3,901 North American theaters in its opening weekend.
The movie had a softer start than expected (projections were closer to $50 million to $55 million) but it’s still impressive considering its simultaneous release on Peacock likely cut into ticket sales. It’s the first movie to open above $40 million since Jordan Peele’s “Nope” kicked off in late July to $44 million.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as a grandmother with deep-rooted trauma in “Halloween Ends,” which is the supposed cap to the long-running slasher series. But the Universal and Blumhouse franchise continues to make money, after all, so it’s doubtful that audiences have seen the last of the masked killer Michael Myers.
“Halloween Ends” also faced unexpectedly steep competition from Paramount’s creepy thriller “Smile,” which continued its killer run with $12.4 million (a minimal 33% decline) in its third weekend of release. The R-rated “Smile” has grossed $71.1 million in North America and $137 million worldwide to date — a scary-good result since it cost just $17 million to produce. At a time when movie theaters have been struggling to bounce back from COVID, the horror genre has been a consistent winner.
“Horror films have been performing extremely well at the box office,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Young audiences like seeing these movies at a theater.”
But, he adds, “When that kind of success is possible, the greatest value is created by an exclusive theatrical release first, followed by streaming.”
According to NBCUniversal, “Halloween Ends” is Peacock’s most-watched series or film of all time over a two-day period, but the company stopped short of providing any data to contextualize that ambiguous milestone. It’s impossible to know the amount of money that’s left on the table with a hybrid release, although Peacock has significantly fewer subscribers than Netflix, HBO Max and other rivals in the streaming space.
Internationally, “Halloween Ends” added $17.17 million from 77 markets, pushing global ticket sales to $58.42 million.
“It’s great to see Blumhouse once again dominate this space,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “Jamie Lee Curtis is a force of nature and audiences absolutely love her.”
“Halloween Ends” cost $33 million to produce, not including marketing expenses, so it won’t take a ton of coin to turn a profit. But there was hope, at least heading into the weekend, that the slasher sequel would beat the $49 million start of its predecessor, 2021’s “Halloween Kills,” which also opened day-and-date on Peacock. Instead, “Halloween Ends” landed the lowest debut in the rebooted trilogy, a sign that enthusiasm is starting to decrease.
“Halloween Ends” landed a bleak “C+” CinemaScore, the worst grade of the trilogy. That’s not exactly encouraging since “Halloween Kills,” which scored a slightly better “B-,” collapsed by 70% in its sophomore outing and tapped out with $92 million in North America and $131 million globally. By comparison, 2018’s “Halloween” obliterated franchise records when it opened (in a vastly different theatrical landscape) to $76.2 million. The well-received movie ended its theatrical run with $159 million in the US and $255 million worldwide.
“Despite a ‘C+’ CinemaScore,” says Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian, “‘Halloween Kills’ has huge brand equity that could help buoy its prospects moving forward.” He adds, “The bigger question for every movie in the marketplace is the impending debut of ‘Black Adam.'” The DC comic book adaptation, starring Dwayne Johnson as the eponymous antihero, premieres in theaters next weekend.
Elsewhere, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” landed in third place behind “Halloween Ends” and “Smile.” Sony’s animated family film added $7.4 million from 4,350 venues in its second weekend in theaters, a 34% drop from its debut. So far, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” has generated a so-so $22.7 million in North America.
“The Woman King,” starring Viola Davis, secured fourth place with $3.7 million from 2,565 venues. The well-reviewed action epic has grossed $59.7 million domestically and $76.5 million worldwide after five weeks in theaters: a strong result for a movie aimed at adult audiences. But given its $50 million price tag, it still has ways to go to turn a comfortable profit in its theatrical run.
Director David O. Russell’s star-studded “Amsterdam” took the No. 5 spot with $2.9 million from 3,005 cinemas, a 56% drop from its catastrophic $6.5 million start. The $80 million-budgeted film, plagued by negative reviews and minimal buzz, has earned just $12 million at the domestic box office and $18.5 million globally, making it one of the biggest misfires of the year.
On the indie front, director Chinonye Chukwu’s historical drama Till generated $240,940 from 16 theaters, averaging a solid $15,059 per location. MGM and United Artists Releasing will expand the film, an emotional look at Emmett Till’s mother’s search for justice, to 150 to 200 additional venues next weekend.
Meanwhile “Tár,” an awards contender starring Cate Blanchett as a world-famous conductor embroiled in controversy, brought in $360,000 from 36 theaters, translating to $10,000 per location. The film, from Focus Features, has earned $585,000 to date and plans to continue its slow expansion in the coming weeks.