Halloween Kills slashed through all expectations and topped the box office with an estimated $50.3 million this weekend. The horror film made its theatrical debut while also streaming simultaneously on NBCUniversal’s Peacock service. The strong debut is giving theater owners hope that the industry is experiencing an autumn resurgence.
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According to Business Insider, the surprise hit raked in a good $10-$15 million more than the filmmakers had expected. It also had the biggest opening since COVID began.
Halloween Kills is the latest installment in the long horror franchise, which may have helped its performance.
“This genre and this particular franchise lends itself to the in-theater experience,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “People want to be scared together. Our core audience was eager and enthusiastic.”
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Expectations had the film pegged at a more conservative debut in the $30 million range. The surprising debut saw Halloween Kills easily besting the competition, which included the James Bond pic No Time to Die, in its second weekend, and Ridley Scott’s medieval epic The Last Duel. Both are playing exclusively in theaters.
Halloween Kills will face increased competition next weekend as it faces Warner Bros.’ Dune which will debut in theaters and on HBO Max.
Piracy could also prove to be an issue. The film placed among the top on Torrent Freak’s weekly list of most pirated movies on Monday.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that the distributor Universal and production company Blumhouse spent a small sum of $20 million for the film, so it is already proving to be profitable. On the other hand, The Last Duel did not fare as well and only grossed $4.8 million at the domestic box office against a $100 million budget. That is despite the film’s exclusive theatrical release.
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Jamie Lee Curtis, who stars in the franchise, took to Instagram to say that she was thrilled at the film’s performance. She also took the moment to offer support to box office competitor The Last Duel, letting them know that she knew how it felt to be involved in an underperforming film.
The studio decided to release Halloween Kills simultaneously in theaters and on NBC Universal’s Peacock for premium subscribers. Despite concerns, it appears that the day-and-date strategy does not seem to have hurt its box office haul.
The box office sales are still steep drop compared to pre-COVID levels. The film’s predecessor, Halloween, opened to $76 million in 2018.
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Sources: Business Insider, Rotten Tomatoes
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