The first film in the meta-horror series without Sidney Prescott is tracking for a $35 million-plus opening weekend
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After “Creed III” set a new opening weekend record for the “Rocky” spinoff series, Paramount/Spyglass’ “Scream VI” will have the chance to do the same for Wes Craven’s aggressively meta slasher horror series.
“Scream VI” is looking to top its predecessor’s $30 million opening weekend with a projected domestic launch of at least $35 million from 3,660 theaters, with some projections reaching as high as $40 million. The highest opening weekend in the franchise belongs to “Scream 3,” which was released in February 2000 and opened to $34.7 million, or $60.3 million in today’s dollars.
Last year, “Scream” returned to theaters for the first time since 2010 and overcame adverse conditions including a COVID-19 surge to gross $81.6 million domestic and $137.7 million worldwide against a $25 million budget. That formed the foundation for what became a stellar 2022 for Paramount with $2.3 billion earned at the global box office with “Top Gun: Maverick” leading the way as the biggest hit of the summer.
If it seemed like “Scream” had run out of horror tropes to skewer when it mocked the concept of the “legacyquel” with last year’s film, “Scream VI” is here to dispel such notions. In what is perhaps a tweak at “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” the series about the serial killer Ghostface — whose identity changes with each movie — travels to New York as the survivors of the last “Scream” head to the Big Apple in the hopes of leaving the horrors of Woodsboro behind, only to find that a new killer has followed them there.
“Scream 5” stars Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding and Jenna Ortega reprise their roles with original “Scream” star Courteney Cox returning for the sixth time alongside “Scream 4” vet Hayden Panettiere. But the one noticeable absence is Neve Campbell as the original Ghostface survivor Sidney Prescott, as the actress chose to not appear in a “Scream” film for the first time due to disagreements with Paramount over her pay for the film.
If there’s any disappointment from hardcore “Scream” fans over Campbell’s absence, it hasn’t made a dent in the tracking for this new installment. Much like “Creed III” expanding its opening weekend audience even without Sylvester Stallone appearing as Rocky Balboa, “Scream VI” is showing signs of sustaining its franchise’s core audience without a star that was once a key part of its successful formula.
Combined with strong promotion by running trailers ahead of January’s breakout horror hit “M3GAN,” and positive reviews with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%, “Scream VI” is in line to find its own lane against “Creed III” and the upcoming “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” as an R-rated horror film, the sort of offering that has dependably brought out moviegoers even during the earliest stages of reopening.
While “Scream VI” had a slightly higher budget than its predecessor at $35 million thanks to on-location shooting in Montreal and New York, Paramount should have no problem turning a decent profit from this early spring title.
Also opening this weekend is Sony/Columbia’s “65,” which stars Adam Driver as a space pilot who has crash landed on a prehistoric Earth. Written and directed by “A Quiet Place” writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, “65” faces a hard road to profitability as Sony projects a $7 million-$8 million opening weekend from 2,850 theaters against a $45 million production budget, though that budget was co-financed by TSG Entertainment and Bron.
Focus Features is also releasing “Champions,” an inspirational sports film starring Woody Harrelson as a struggling basketball coach who receives a court order to manage a team of disabled players. The film is projected for a $4 million opening from 3,029 theaters.
Box Office Reporter • email@example.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster