‘Halloween Ends’ Busts the Myth That Streaming Undercuts Box Office Success

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Universal’s horror sequel topped the box office and the streaming charts for the week of Oct. 16

Halloween Ends

Peacock made a big splash via its first appearance on last week’s Nielsen weekly ratings chart, placing first among all movies for the week of Oct. 16 with Universal’s “Halloween Ends” — and proof positive that a simultaneous release on streaming doesn’t automatically cannibalize theatrical revenue potential.

Nielsen reported that “Halloween Ends” achieved 717 million minutes viewed in the first three days of its availability on NBCUniversal’s Peacock. In the same weekend, the final film in the new Jamie Lee Curtis-led trilogy also topped the domestic box office, debuting with $40 million. The poorly-reviewed film, (with a 41% score on Rotten Tomatoes) maxed out at $65 million domestic when it left theaters last Thursday — and $103 million worldwide, on a $33 million budget.

“Horror movies are tailor-made for the communal movie theater experience,” Comscore Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “Nonetheless, ‘Halloween Ends’ enjoyed solid results on the big screen and small screen simultaneously.”

SambaTV, which measures 3 million U.S. households, noted that 920,000 watched “Halloween Ends” in its first week of streaming. That’s significantly less than the 1.7 million households who logged first-week views for last year’s “Halloween Kills” — which also had a simultaneous release in theaters and on streaming.

In its second frame (days four through 10 of Peacock availability), viewership dropped to 389 million minutes, according to Nielsen, a reasonable 46% drop considering the up-front demand for franchise horror films.

“A significant portion of the population is happier shopping from home, on Zoom working from home and streaming from home,” Case Western Reserve College of Arts and Sciences Professor Deepak Sarma told TheWrap.

In terms of theatrical earnings, threequel performed about as expected compared to recent non-event trilogy cappers. Theatrical revenues fell 20% compared to last year’s “Halloween Kills,” which debuted to $49 million — the biggest R-rated opening since “Bad Boys for Life” in January 2020 — before grossing a total of $92 million domestic and $131 million worldwide. (The first film in Blumhouse’s “Halloween” series opened to $77 million in 2018 before hitting a $159 million domestic cume.)

That is not unlike the downward trajectory of “The Maze Runner” series (whose box office peaked with the 2014 original at $102 million, fell to $81 million with the 2015 sequel, then fell again to $58 million in 2018) and Disney’s “Star Wars” trilogy ($937 million in 2015 to $620 million in 2017 to $515 million in 2019).

While “Halloween Ends” seems to be a moderate success on Peacock and in theaters, the raw numbers imply that neither distribution platform did aggressive harm to the other.

The new “Halloween” trilogy still grossed an impressive $490 million worldwide (with $256 million just from the 2018 “Halloween”) on a combined $63 million budget, while the latter two posted good-to-great streaming numbers (by Peacock standards) concurrently with their theatrical success. Even if the third new film lost a few box office bucks to Peacock availability, that was clearly an acceptable loss.