Halloween Ends wins at the box office but renews the streaming debate

No matter how you look at the numbers, Halloween Ends had a good opening weekend. The slasher picture, touted as the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, grossed $41.3 million in ticket sales at 3,901 theaters in North America as of Sunday, according to the studio’s estimates. It’s the first film to gross more than $40 million since Nope debuted in July, and it surpassed its production budget, which is reportedly between $20 million and $30 million. Including international screenings, it has a global total of US$58.4 million.

“We are extremely pleased that Blumhouse has delivered yet another incredible film and another #1 opening,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “Jamie Lee Curtis thrilled and terrified audiences across North America.”

The film has also reignited an evergreen debate about day-to-day movie releases, and some in Hollywood are wondering if it could have been any bigger had it not simultaneously debuted on NBC Universal’s streaming service, Peacock.

Earlier in the weekend, some analysts had set Halloween Ends to open in the $50-$55 million range. Halloween Kills, the previous installment in the David Gordon Green-directed Halloween trilogy, opened last year and still grossed $49 million by its opening weekend.

Green’s First Halloween, on the other hand, debuted in 2018 at $76.2 million. But that was before the pandemic, only in cinemas and the much-anticipated revival of a popular, well-reviewed franchise. However, his subsequent Halloween films have been more divisive among critics and fans. Kills had a 39% Rotten Tomatoes score while Ends has 40% and still grossed over $40 million.

“The day-and-date model has been put to the test again, but I think this is a mandate in favor of cinema,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The audience had the opportunity to see it at home, but they chose to go to the theater.”

Many studios experimented with day-and-date releases in the second year of the pandemic, with mixed results, but in 2022 most returned to traditional theatrical first releases — particularly for their most valuable brands and franchises.

Still, it sparked a self-proclaimed “rage” from filmmaker Christopher Landon, who tweeted this weekend that he felt his horror film Freaky was hurt by its simultaneous release in theaters and streaming in November 2020.

“Stop this. Please. It’s not working. Studios: Stop playing with filmmakers and their films to try and shore up your fledgling streaming services,” Landon wrote on Twitter. “I’ve been begging the studio to not to do that… We got hosed down.”

While there was likely some financial impact to Halloween Ends, it’s hard to figure out how much money was left on the table upon release. Peacock is significantly smaller than many of its streaming peers, with 13 million paid subscribers reported in late July. Studios also rarely release specific streaming dates.

Smile, meanwhile, has continued to defy the odds of horror films with another strong weekend. Paramount’s original thriller added $12.4 million, bringing the domestic total to $71.2 million after three weeks.

Dergarabedian noted that it’s rare for two R-rated horror films to top the box office charts.

“The thrill of being scared in a movie theater is old-fashioned,” Dergarabedian said. “Throughout the pandemic, horror films have grossed over $1 billion, and that’s just domestically.”

Third place for the weekend went to Sony’s Lyle Lyle Crocodile, down 35% from its debut with $7.4 million, while The Woman King was fourth in its fifth weekend with $3.7 million landed, bringing his domestic total to $59.7 million. Amsterdam rounded out the top five for the second weekend with $2.9 million.

United Artists Releasing’s limited edition Mamie Till-Mobley film TILL got off to a strong start at $240,940 from just 16 locations. Director Chinonye Chukwu’s fact-based account of Emmett Till’s mother’s quest for justice will be expanded in the coming weeks.

“Hats to producers Barbara Broccoli, Keith Beauchamp and Whoopi Goldberg who fought for decades to get this film made,” said Erik Lomis, UAR’s President of Distribution. “Over the weekend, the film attracted an incredibly diverse, multi-generational audience, playing in both smarthouse and commercial venues. We got off to a great start.”

Focus Features’ Tár, another lively contender for awards, also expanded to 36 theaters this weekend — earning another $360,000 — and will open in more markets over the next two weeks.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. The final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1. Halloween ends, $41.3 million.

2. Smile, $12.4 million.

3. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, $7.4 million.

4. The Woman King, $3.7 million.

5. Amsterdam, $2.9 million.

6. Don’t worry darling, $2.2 million.

7. Barbarian, $1.4 million.

8. Brothers, $920,000.

9. Terrifiers 2, $850,000.

10. Top Gun: Maverick, $685,000.



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