I suspected that Halloween would put up huge numbers this weekend, but it wasn’t until I attended a sold-out screening at 10 p.m. on Thursday (very unusual in my neck of the woods) that I realized it would be massive. The reboot/sequel (reborquel) to John Carpenter’s 1978 original brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode; had the original movie’s director, John Carpenter, as executive producer; and brought in the talented David Gordon Green to handle directing duties while working from a script by Danny McBride. The result? An estimated $77.5 million, making it the second biggest October opening ever, narrowly falling short of the $80.2 million opening of Venom just a few weeks ago.
The $77.5 million gross also gives Halloween the second biggest opening ever for a horror movie, behind only It, and the tenth best opening for an R-rated movie of any genre. That is huge, and easily the biggest opening weekend for any of the principals associated with this film (David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jamie Lee Curtis). In fact, until this weekend, Jamie Lee Curtis’ biggest opening weekend was $29 million for Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (I am sure that she is happy to remove that box-office stat from her resume.)
How did they do it? Halloween certainly had huge brand recognition — the 1978 original jumpstarted the Golden Age of slasher films and spawned seven sequels, a remake and a sequel to the remake. Blumhouse was smart, however, to make the 2018 version a direct sequel to the original, and it helped that it was also very good. Critics liked it a lot (80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and audiences dug it as well (the B+ Cinemascore is actually very high for a horror film). The strategy to open it at the Toronto Film Festival and premiere it in America during Fantastic Fest probably helped, too, but make no mistake: Jamie Lee Curtis was a huge selling point, right along with the October release date. The film should continue to perform well this weekend ahead of Halloween, as well.
But the kicker? It only cost $10 million to produce. That’s how much Jamie Lee Curtis should ask for to return for a sequel.