Halloween Not Far From Venoms $80M+ October Opening Record; Best Debut For Blumhouse & John Carpenter Canon


WRITETHRU FRIDAY 11:02PM: Refresh for chart and more analysis The 11th sequel in a horror franchise, executive produced by the series original creator John Carpenter, starring the series original actress (Jamie Lee Curtis) in a female survivalist tale that speaks to todays times, and youve got yourself a box recipe for success.


Weekend estimates for Universal/Miramax/Blumhouses Halloween are coming in at $33M for today, (including a great $7.7M Thursday night) the second-best first day for a horror movie after It ($50.4M), on a killing spree to become the second-highest domestic horror opening of all-time at $79.4M (also behind Its $123.4M) and possibly the biggest opening of October that is if Michael Myers can knock off Venoms $80.2M record from three weekend ago. But lets see where Saturday takes us. As weve mentioned so far the box office trajectory many are using for Halloween is roughly akin to The Nun and It where Thursday previews accounts for 23% of Fridays ticket sales, a Saturday thats down in the low double digits (-10% to -15%) and a Sunday thats down in the 35%-40% range. More amazing? Halloween isnt getting any goosing from Imax which propped It and Nuns grosses.

As we already mentioned, its a record weekend for the Carpenter franchise, Blumhouse (their last record opening being Paranormal Activity 3 at $52.5M) and a great launch for the revived Miramax under Bill Block and Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Halloween: Resurrection

There was a huge horror reboot craze in the wake of Platinum Dunes/New Lines 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre ($28M, $80.5M domestic) after putting dusty slasher properties in the hands of edgy auteurs. In that case it was German director Marcus Nispel, and in the case of Halloween its filmmaker David Gordon Green and Danny McBride as EP/screenwriter giving the 40-year old universe a breath of fresh air with an auteurish tone combined with the McBrides dark sense of humor. More reboots followed in the wake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2005s Amityville Horror ($23.5M opening, $65.2M domestic), 2009s Friday the 13th ($40.5M opening, $65M domestic), 2010s Nightmare on Elm Street ($32.9M opening, $63M) and even 2007s Halloween ($26.3M, $58.2M) — all of them repping opening records in their franchises. But the craze died out and fast. Paramount pulled the plug on a Friday the 13th movie a few years ago, their Rings lat year was DOA with a $13M opening; meanwhile a Weinstein version of Amityville last year, Amityville: The Awakening, skipped a full theatrical play after several release date changes and did a VOD Google Play day and date run. Whats the difference here in resuscitating Halloween? Involving the franchises original creator Carpenter, star Curtis as an EP and, yes, Malek Akkad who owned partial rights with the Weinsteins, and whose late father Moustapha Akkad produced the Halloween universe. The core fans will immediately show up, and bring their kids and future generations to the theater as well. Its a reboot plan not unlike what Universal executed with Jurassic World with that series original director Steven Spielberg still serving as EP and Disney with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and its original stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher (in fact Disney, maybe you want to reconsider killing off Han Solo and Luke Skywalker? Theres a business nowadays in classic franchise having their original stars reprise their roles). Its what Paramount and Skydance are doing with Terminator with Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger both returning at the same time since 1991s Terminator 2 plus series original filmmaker James Cameron in a producing role. Tonight Halloween gets a B+ CinemaScore, the highest grade for the series since 2002s Halloween: Resurrection which earned a B+ and was the last time Curtis played Laurie Strode.

Huge attaboy here to Universals domestic distribution boss Jim Orr and international chief Duncan Clark. The third weekend of October is typically a place for distributors to toss a bulk of counterprogramming that often pales (there were crazily five wide releases a year ago at this time, four in 2016, four in 2015). Historically Universal via former distribution vet Nikki Rocco has long preached the belief that when you got the goods, you can play them anywhere on the calendar. The third weekend of October has also proved to work for scary movies looking to leg into the Halloween holiday which is what Blumhouse has done in the past with the Ouija movies and Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4.

RelishMix noticed in regards to the positive buzz on social that “fans are discussing the original, how its plot lines up with this 2018 film – and the many chapters of the series between 1978 and how, 40 years later. Lots of horror Fans, whether or not theyre all in for Halloween, are impressed by the clips and presentation of Michael Myers theyve seen so far. And, similar to superhero convo, even Halloween fans who arent convinced by this latest offering are still saying they have to go to theaters to see it. There are even those suggesting that there should be a rebooted face-off between Myers and other horror favorites, like Jason of the Friday the 13th series.”

Halloween made its initial splash last fall when Curtis debuted an image of herself on the famous front porch with Michael Myers on social. The first trailer launched in June with an eyebrow raising 23M views in the first eight hours and has clocked north of 160M views to date. Uni lit up word of mouth on Halloween like a bonfire with a world premiere in the Midnight Madness section of TIFF and another screening at Austins Fantastic Fest. Halloweens social media universe across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube views is at 192.1M, well above the genre pics 103M social media universe count. Curtis is the social media leader with 2M followers. Video materials have flown around the internet at a alarming rate of 96:1 versus a horror films average 13:1. RelishMix reports that Halloween is also ahead on average daily new Facebook Fans with 3.7K, also ahead of the benchmark 3.3K. Hashtags/tags for #Halloweenmovie and @Halloweenmovie are in the the 26-32k range which is average for a horror pic, but add in the unofficial #Halloween hashtag at over 63k per day, that throws Twitter activity over 100k per day, which is exceptional. Meanwhile, holdover #Venom continues to fly well in the 55-62k hashtags per day this week.

The Curtis slasher will profit greatly given its $15M production cost split evenly between Miramax and Blumhouse (Universal took overseas rights and is handling the pic for a fee): Blumhouses Split off a $9M production, $80M P&A and $278.4M global gross cleared $68M-plus in black ink at the end of the day. Get Out, which cost less at $4.5M, $77M worldwide P&A and $255.4M worldwide box office, earned an estimated $124.8M in profit.

Other notables: Universal/DreamWorks First Man has a second weekend of $8.9M, -44%, 10-day of $30.3M. Uni was hoping for a second weekend hold in the Bridge of Spies range (-26%). Imax is still busy providing rocket fuel to the Damien Chazelle-directed astronaut drama which underperformed with a $16M opening last weekend.

The Hate U Give

20th Century Foxs expansion of The Hate U Give from 248 sites to 2,303 is landing in 6th place with $7.7M, running total by Sunday of $10.9M. Production cost was $23M. Could be stronger, but Fox platformed this movie to cut through the big noise of October in hopes of keeping the George Tillman Jr.-directed movie alive through awards season. 96% RT certified fresh score.

Jonah Hills teenage street skateboard feature Mid90s looks to be earning around $58K per theater at four New York and Los Angeles locations, and a total weekend of $235K for the A24 release. 81% certified fresh RT score.

Fox Searchlights Melissa McCarthy dramatic turn as celebrity biographer-turned-literary forger Lee Israel Can You Ever Forgive Me? is eyeing around $30,5K per theater and a NY/LA opening in five locations of $153K. Awesome 99% certified fresh RT score.

IFCs Paul Dano-directed drama Wildlife starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, which world premiered at Sundance and went on to play Cannes Critics week and TIFF is looking at $28K per theater with $112K from four NY/LA theaters. 96% Certified Fresh RT.


FRIDAY AM UPDATE after Thursday PM EXCLUSIVE: Universal is calling Miramax/Blumhouses Halloween at $7.7 million in Thursday night previews, which began at 7 PM at 3,200 venues — still a fantastic result for a horror pic even though our estimates overshot. Last nights take bests The Nuns $5.4M preview, and its just under the $8M of Paranormal Activity 3s midnight previews.

The funky, front-loaded nature of horror movies –they dont exactly leg out like superhero ones — makes Halloween a tricky one to peg in regards to how high it will go. Already we were hearing that advance ticket sales today are enormous, and thats after last nights show. We also heard presales in certain multiplexes are beating Its sales. Already, Fandango reported that Halloween is the best horror preseller of the year, well ahead of The Nun.

Should Halloween follow a similar path to It and The Nuns gross trajectory — with Thursday repping 25% of Friday, Saturday down 10% and Sunday another 40% — it will be looking at roughly $30.8M today (including previews), $27.7M Saturday and $16.6M Sunday for a $75M domestic opening.

In a Fandango survey of 1,000 responders, 98% are excited to see the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and the original Michael Myers (Nick Castle), 97% are excited that John Carpenter was involved, 89% are looking forward to David Gordon Green and Danny McBride bringing dark humor to the project, 88% are fans of the slasher thriller genre, and 76% have seen most of the films in the Halloween franchise.

Halloweens Thursday is arguably the third best preview for a horror film after Its $13.5M and Paranormal Activity 3.

Remember with It and The Nun, their grosses were goosed by Imax theaters. Those are being relegated this frame to Universal/DreamWorks First Man. In Friday morning estimates as of 6:54 AM, the epic Damien Chazelle-directed Neil Armstrong biopic ended its first week with an estimated $21.4M after a third-place take of $1.09M on Thursday.

In first, winning every weekday this week, is Warner Bros A Star Is Born which earned an estimated $2.7M, down 8% from Wednesday, for a two-week running total of $107.1M. Sonys Venom is second with $2.08M Thursday, down 7% from Wednesday, for $153M through 14 days. The studios family pic Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween earned an estimated $19.1M in Week 1 after a fourth-place Thursday of $699,000, up 17%. Warner Bros Smallfoot made $598K last night, up 28%, for a three-week running total of $59.8M. 20th Century Foxs Bad Times at the El Royale slotted sixth Thursday with $524K, down 13% from Wednesday, for a one-week take of $10M.

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: Universal/Miramax/Blumhouses Halloween is being projected by our industry sources at around $10 million, which arguably is the second-best preview night for a horror pic after New Lines It banked $13.5M from 3,500 theaters on Sept 7, 2017.

Tonights forecast doesnt come from Universal, so theres an asterisk as the final tally could come in higher or lower by the morning. Showtimes started at 7 PM. We heard that the David Gordon Green-directed sequel at one point was tracking at $8M at around 6 PM, then popped to $10M after 9 PM. Still even if Halloween is in the high single digits at $8M-$9M tomorrow morning, thats amazing for a horror movie considering New Lines The Nun hit a Conjuring universe franchise record back on September 6 with $5.4M. Arguably, the next best horror movie to fare well in previews after It was Blumhouses own Paranormal Activity 3, which cleared $8M on October 21, 2011; and that was just from midnight shows.

Where does Halloween land on its opening day and the weekend?

Without a doubt, the film produced by Malek Akkad, Bill Block and Jason Blum is easily headed to its best opening in the franchises 40-year history, beating 2007s Halloween ($26.3M), and its poised to be the biggest opening for Blumhouse, besting Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.5M). The opening also marks a great launch for the new Miramax under CEO Block and chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, which co-financed the $15M feature here. True, genre fans are a front-loaded kind of crowd who show up first and then disappear the rest of the weekend, but Halloween is playing like a blockbuster given its multi-generational pull. The drawing power for many is Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her legendary role as Laurie Strode for the first time since 2002s Halloween: Resurrection.

If Halloween follows the gross pattern of It and The Nun, its Thursday will rep 25%-27% of its opening day which would be a $37M-$40M Friday (including previews). Saturday would dip 10%, which would put the second day around $33M-$36M. Sunday would fall roughly 40% from Saturday, making it $19.8M-$21.6M. That puts the entire weekend between $89.8M-$97.6M. Again, thats if Halloween plays like It or The Nun. Critics wont be a problem business-wise for this movie because they love it at 81% Certified Fresh.

Its Thursday night repped 27% of its $50.4M opening day before finaling at $123.4M, while The Nun did 25% of its $22M opening day on Thursday before posting a $53.8M opening. Both movies had the help of Imax. Currently the Imax auditoriums are being used by Universal/DreamWorks The First Man.

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