A popular horror franchise will always be seen on the big screen by slash-happy fans
While there was much debate over the past few months about how day-and-date releasing has hurt the pandemic box office, Universal’s “Halloween Kills” defied the odds with its strong opening weekend.
While the film was also available at no extra charge on NBCUniversal’s fledgling streamer Peacock, the second installment in David Gordon Green and Jamie Lee Curtis’ trilogy of sequels to the 1978 classic “Halloween” earned $50 million this weekend, topping the $31.6 million debut of Legendary/Warner Bros.’ “Godzilla vs. Kong” to become the highest opening of any film released simultaneously on streaming. Blumhouse and Miramax co-produced the sequel.
“Halloween Kills” has also set post-shutdown records for the highest openings for R-rated and horror titles, the latter record being held by Paramount’s “A Quiet Place — Part II” since May. With such a strong performance, overall box office grosses are set to top $100 million for the third straight weekend, increasing the possibility that the fourth quarter could finally yield profits for theater chains for the first time since the pandemic began.
So how was “Halloween Kills” able to outperform so many other hybrid releases? Here are some reasons why:
1. Horror fans love movie theaters…
As the summer blockbuster season was kicking off in May, Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum told TheWrap why he believed “A Quiet Place — Part II” was the right film to lead off the procession of films trying to bring audiences back to theaters.
“I don’t think there’s any other genre that benefits so much from the theatrical experience more than horror,” he said. “So much of the enjoyment of it comes from sitting in a dark room with other people. It’s just not the same when we’re alone, and it would probably be worthwhile for studios to really emphasize that difference.”
The success of “Quiet Place II” and now “Halloween Kills” shows that hardcore horror buffs value the moviegoing experience just as much as the studio and theater execs extolling its virtues. Universal insiders told TheWrap when “Kills” was moved to day-and-date that there was a lot of confidence that fans would buy a ticket instead of seeing the film on Peacock because seeing it with others is part of the reason why they enjoy the genre. As it turns out, that faith was well placed.
2. Many of those horror fans are young
While MGM’s “No Time to Die” has begun the slow process of bringing older audiences back to theaters, younger audiences continue to be the primary drivers of post-shutdown box office. “Halloween Kills” is proof of this as Postrak surveys showed that 73% of the opening weekend audience is under 35, with 44% under 25.
Two weeks ago, it was this cohort of millennial and Gen Z moviegoers that pushed Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” to a post-shutdown record $90 million opening. Though “Halloween Kills” sports an R rating befitting its homicidal antagonist, it’s likely that many of the same young moviegoers that flocked to see the bloodthirsty aliens of “Quiet Place Part II” and the more humorous antics of the man-eating Venom were ready for more chills this weekend.