Leave it to the kids and/or video game fans and/or Blumhouse. Whomever you want to credit with the opening of a video game-inspired horror film while it also plays at home on Peacock, give them their due. Maybe it’s another generational treat for those of us who spent many birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese or Showbiz Pizza Place combined with a safe-ish PG-13 rating that made everyone ignore the truly terrible reviews it received. The Nun II didn’t get to $100 million. The Exorcist: Believer is not even going to get close. But Five Nights at Freddy’s should be there by next weekend.
Tracking going into this week were pegging Five Nights at Freddy’s for an opening around $40 million. It took only a few days for projections to go over $50 million. Come Thursday and the previews put a $10.3 million number on the board. The only films to make at least $9 million in Thursday showings and not open to $60 million were the third Hobbit film and The Flash. Hobbit 3, Ant-Man 2, and Aquaman are the only ones to open to $10 million and not start with at least $80 million. Freddy’s joined the majority on both of those lists.
Speaking of lists, this is Blumhouse’s best opening ever, replacing David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween ($76.2 million). It more than doubled the best pre-Halloween weekend opening ever, which belonged to the animated Puss In Boots ($34 million). Saw III had a $33.6 million start. How about ranking as the third best start to a horror film ever behind It and It: Chapter Two, placing it ahead of 2018’s Halloween and Jordan Peele’s Us. The 23% score on the Tomatometer and A- Cinemascore is exactly what Dracula Untold received in October 2014, and that film ended up with a final opening-to-final gross multiple of 2.39. That would put Freddy’s final total around $191 million, plus $52 million and growing internationally. Even if it does take a steep drop next week, this is nothing but good news for theaters and Blumhouse’s $20 million production.
What happens when nobody knows you have a movie opening – and said movie stinks? You open to $2 million. That is what Freelance did in 2,057 theaters this weekend for a $972 per-theater average, the fourth worst of the year for a film in at least 2,000 venues. As for the sucking, don’t take my word for it. Just look at the 0% it currently has with critics who braved to see it in theaters after there was little-to-no outreach of any kind from the distributor or its reps. Since introducing parkour to the world with District B13, director Pierre Morel has had a steady string of losers with critics. Even megahit Taken is just below the Fresh threshold at 59%, but after that it goes down, down, down with now his last four films not even hitting 30%. And this $40 million production may barely make $5 million.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour spent two weekends in the top spot. Today we report it has fallen back to second place with $15.4 million. However, as the concert film has had no showtimes on consecutive Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, its $150 million total is over the course of just 11 days. No film that had grossed at least $132 million in its first 10 days failed to reach $200 million. That would be a neat little trick, consolidating all of Taylor’s fans into those four-day extended weekends and pulling off that milestone. This week, the film will play on Halloween with discounted tickets. The Eras Tour has grossed over $203 million worldwide.
Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon dropped to third but fell a bit behind where we saw its projections headed last week. A $9.3 million weekend brings its 10-day total to $40.9 million. The film was hoping to be more of a Zombieland: Double Tap than an Exorcist: Believer this weekend, but it’s turning out to be neither. The former had an $11.8 million second weekend and a $47.2 million 10-day total while the latter put up numbers of $10.9 million and $44.9 million. Flower Moon is now trailing both of those films at the moment and is currently suggesting a landing in the vicinity of $55-60 million. It has grossed over $84 million worldwide to date.
Angel Studios, which made headlines all summer thanks to the release of Sound of Freedom, got $5 million in ticket sales this weekend with their documentary After Death. The film about people recalling their near-death out-of-body experiences opened in 2,645 theaters. Take concert films out of the equation and that is one of the 10 best openings for a documentary ever.
The aforementioned The Exorcist: Believer made $3.2 million in its fourth weekend, bringing its total to just under $60 million and over $120 million worldwide. That is closely aligned with the numbers for Jackass: The Movie, which itself had a $3.8 million fourth weekend and a 24-day total of $59.3 million; it finished a bit over $64 million. Believer should have a little boost on Halloween and likely finish somewhere over $65 million — less than what Five Nights at Freddy’s grossed this weekend for Blumhouse and it did not cost them $400 million in franchise rights.
Saw X is another horror success, as it crossed $50 million this weekend, the first in the franchise to do that since the fifth film. The kids spent another $2.3 million on Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie, bringing its total to $59.3 million. A 50% drop from last week has deadened its chances to hit $70 million domestic, but with over $150 million worldwide, the second film in the series is another success. Another $2.1 million was also spent on the 30th Anniversary of Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, bringing its total to $8 million. The top 10 consists mostly of films hitting their profit margins, which then unfortunately brings us to The Creator, which finishes its presence here with $1.1 million in its fifth week and a domestic total of $38.9 million.
Before it goes wide this week, A24 released Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla in four theaters over the weekend. It grossed $132,000 for a per-theater average of $33,000, the ninth best of 2023. Alexander Payne’s acclaimed The Holdovers with Paul Giamatti made an estimated $200,000 in six theaters for a PTA of $33,333, making it the eighth best of the year. However, both are far away from the record books in their limited launches. Both are considered award contenders, and that will help boost their chances to extend their box office muscle through the season, but since 2010, a soft theater launch in four or five venues with a start under $200,000 has only resulted in 36 films out of close to 400that have grossed over $12.5 million.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by Patti Perret/©Universal Pictures