‘Halloween Kills’ carves out USD50.4 million

Lindsey Bahr

AP – Halloween Kills may be available to watch at home, but the latest instalment in the Michael Myers saga is making a killing at the North American box office in its first weekend in theatres. The David Gordon Green-directed horror scared up USD50.4 million from 3,705 locations, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Universal’s Halloween Kills far surpassed expectations, which had the film pegged for a more conservative debut in the USD30 million range. It also easily bested its main 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.

The film picks up where Green’s 2018 Halloween left off, on the same bloody night, with Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode. Some were surprised when the studio made the decision to release Halloween Kills simultaneously in theatres and on NBC Universal’s Peacock for premium subscribers, but the day-and-date strategy does not seem to have hurt its box office haul.

“David Gordon Green crafted an incredibly terrifying continuation of this franchise that our core audience was more than eager to come out to the theatre to see,” said Universal’s head of domestic distribution Jim Orr. “Audiences want to be out, they want to be in theatres, and they want to experience it communally.”

Before Halloween Kills, which had a reported USD20 million production budget, the biggest day-and-date opening of the year was Warner Bros’ Godzilla vs Kong which grossed USD32.2 million in its first weekend while also being available on HBO Max. It’s a best for a pandemic-era horror opening, narrowly beating out A Quiet Place Part II.

Michael Myers in ‘Halloween Kills’. PHOTOS: AP
Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer in ‘Halloween Kills’

The 2018 Halloween was a massive hit that opened to USD76.2 million and went on to gross north of USD256 million against a USD10 million budget. And there are plans for a third that will close out the modern Michael Myers trilogy.

The opening weekend crowd for Halloween Kills was slightly more male (52 per cent), and it was diverse (36 per cent Caucasian, 34 per cent Hispanic and 18 per cent Black), according to exit polls.

“Horror movies have been a mainstay of the box office throughout the pandemic,” said Comscore’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Audiences just love seeing horror movies in a movie theatre. But this also isn’t just a horror movie, Halloween is a huge brand, and this is 43 years in the making.”

The James Bond film No Time To Die slid into second place in its second weekend in North America with USD24.3 million, which is down only 56 per cent from last weekend and brings its total to USD99.5 million. Globally, No Time to Die has earned USD447,521 million.

Further down the charts is The Last Duel, Scott’s 14th Century drama starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jodie Comer and Adam Driver, which has earned only an estimated USD4.8 million from 3,065 locations despite positive reviews and an exclusive theatrical run. Distributed by the Walt Disney Co, The Last Duel was a title the company inherited in the deal with 20th Century Fox.

Next week Warner Bros’ big budget adaptation of Dune opens in North American theatres and on HBO Max, as does Disney’s Ron’s Gone Wrong and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.

“Every week we’re getting a lesson in the dynamics of this marketplace as related to the various release models,” said Dergarabedian. “Halloween Kills is important because people could have just sat at home where the buy-in was modest. This is evidence of the power of the movie theatre and its allure and appeal to the moviegoer.”