Universal’s “Halloween Kills” hasn’t been hurt in the slightest by its day-and-date release on Peacock, opening to a $50 million opening from 3,705 screens. The Blumhouse/Miramax co-production has earend the highest opening for a film simultaneously released on streaming, beating the $31.6 million opening of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which opened on HBO Max this past March.
When it was announced last month that the “Halloween” sequel was moving to day-and-date — a move Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum said was fueled by the poor box office performance of “Freaky” — studio sources told TheWrap that Universal felt confident that the film could boost interest in Peacock without sacrificing significant box office revenue. They noted that hardcore horror fans love the “Halloween” series and put a high value on seeing scary films in a theater with other moviegoers.
That confidence turned out to be well-placed. Though this result is less than the $76 million earned by “Halloween” in 2018, that is more attributable to the previous film overperforming thanks to the nostalgia of seeing Jamie Lee Curtis returning to her debut role in a film sold as a direct sequel to the 1978 “Halloween.” But Michael Myers is still a huge box office draw with horror buffs, and is expected to continue to be so over the next two weekends as Halloween gets closer.
The one mark against “Halloween Kills” is that critical and audience reception is noticeably weaker than its predecessor. While the first film got a 79%/70% critics and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore, “Kills” has a 39% critics’ RT score and a B- on CinemaScore, though audience RT score is steady at 72%. If the appeal for “Halloween” among casual moviegoers is seeing Curtis take on Michael Myers again, her diminished role in this sequel may hurt the film’s word-of-mouth.
The other wide release this weekend is 20th Century’s “The Last Duel,” which is bombing hard at the box office with just $4.8 million grossed from 3,065 locations against a reported budget of at least $100 million. The film’s dark subject matter with gory battles and sexual assault may be putting off mainstream audiences, and the 18-35 crowd that has been the primary driver for the box office has chosen “Halloween Kills” over this Ridley Scott film as audience demos for “Last Duel” were 51% over 35.
“The Last Duel” has received strong word-of-mouth with a 86% critics score and 79% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes along with a B+ on CinemaScore, but with other Oscar contenders like “The French Dispatch” and “Belfast” coming to theaters in the coming weeks along with blockbusters like “Dune,” the medieval drama faces an uphill battle to turn that word-of-mouth into a long run in theaters.
For Disney, which inherited the film rights to “The Last Duel” from 20th Century Fox as part of the 2019 merger, “The Last Duel” is a rare but immense big budget bust in a year where the studio has found success across its studio stable from Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” to 20th Century’s “Free Guy.” But in typical Disney fashion, the company is expected to rebound on both the blockbuster and prestige front as it is handling “The French Dispatch” via Searchlight Pictures, while Marvel Studios will release “Eternal” on Nov. 5.
Part of the struggle for “The Last Duel” may be that it is losing many 35+ moviegoers to “No Time to Die,” which is No. 2 this weekend with $24.2 million and a 10-day total of $99.5 million. While the MGM Bond film is also facing stiff competition in retaining younger moviegoers against “Kills” and Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” it is continuing to draw Gen-X moviegoers comfortable with returning to theaters.
Overseas, “No Time to Die” added just under $54 million in its third weekend, bringing its global total to $447.5 million. While the break-even point for the Bond film has risen to an estimated $750-800 million thanks to production and marketing costs inflated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has now passed the $414 million global total of “Shang-Chi” and is set to become only the fifth film this year to gross over $500 million globally. Of those five films, only one, “F9,” is a Hollywood film while the other three are Chinese productions: “Hi, Mom,” “Detective Chinatown 3” and “The Battle at Lake Changjin.”
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is in third with $16.5 million in its third weekend and a domestic total of $169.1 million. That’s virtually on pace with the domestic run of the first “Venom,” which grossed $171 million through three weekends and finished with $213.5 million. MGM/UA’s “The Addams Family 2″ is No. 4 with $7.2 million, bringing its domestic gross to $42.3 million.
Amidst the varying fortunes of the films currently in theaters, there’s another uplifting statistic for the industry: overall grosses for the weekend are set to exceed $100 million for the third straight weekend after failing to cross that mark in consecutive weekends in the past 18 months. Such consistency will be necessary for theaters to start turning profits, as major chains like AMC and Cinemark have yet to get out of the red in their quarterly earnings during this rebuilding period.
Next week will see the release of Warner Bros.’ “Dune” in theaters and HBO Max, with studio sources saying Warner is expecting an opening in the mid-$30 million range. After that will be a quiet weekend on the release front ahead of the launch of “Eternals,” which could challenge the $90 million post-shutdown opening record set two weeks ago by “Venom 2.”