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.
As for the rest of the top ten, A Star is Born and Venom duked it out for second place, with the Bradley Cooper musical pulling slightly ahead of Tom Hardy’s superhero film for the first time. A Star Is Born collected $19.3 million in receipts on its way to $125 million overall, while Venom added $18.1 million to bring its total to $170 million, thereby crossing the $400 million mark globally.
Meanwhile, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween did just fine in its second weekend, earning $10.1 million to bring it just short of $30 million after 10 days. It does not appear, however, that Ryan Gosling’s First Man is going to regain its footing after its disappointing opening weekend and grow into a sleeper hit. It earned just $8.6 million in its second weekend, down 46 percent off its opening weekend. It’s made $30 million after two weeks.
George Tillman Jr.’s phenomenal The Hate U Give expanded into 2300 screens this weekend and performed just as Fox probably hoped, scoring $7.5 million after it’s platform release. It’s earned $10 million now. It’s 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and well-deserved A+ Cinemascore rating should keep the movie in theaters for a while. I can’t say enough good things about it, especially the performance by Russell Hornsby.
Holdovers occupied slots six through nine. Smallfoot added $6.7 million to bring its total to $66.4 million after a month in theaters. Night School is at around $66 million after its $4.9 million fourth weekend. Bad Times at the El Royale continues to flounder, dropping 51 percent and bringing in only $3.5 million in its second weekend. It’s earned $13.5 million after 10 days. Finally, Robert Redford and Casey Affleck’s A Man with a Gun opened in 800 theaters and earned a respectable $2.2 million.
At the specialty box office, Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, performed well, picking up $250,000 in only four theaters. Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy’s Can You Ever Forgive Me nabbed $150,000 in five locations.
Studios were smart not to open any huge films this weekend against Halloween, and it looks like they have largely cleared the runway for the horror film next weekend, as well. Gerard Butler’s Hunter Killer and the faith-based film Indivisible offer the only real competition. Don’t be surprised if Halloween puts up another $50 million.