Halloween is not for another two weeks but apparently it ended this weekend. The capper to David Gordon Green’s Michael Myers trilogy extended horror’s streak at No. 1 to a third straight week. Smiles have certainly come to theaters during a better-than-expected autumn season, mostly due to the terror being provided on screen. The latest to do that had the biggest opening at the box office since Jordan Peele’s Nope back in July. The question is whether or not it is going to have as historic a drop as its predecessor.
When Halloween Kills opened in October of 2021, we were about nine months in to a regular vaccination program helping to loosen up both the restrictions and the fears of the ongoing pandemic. Despite also streaming on Peacock day-and-date with its theatrical release, it nevertheless scrounged up $49.4 million for the sixth best opening since the re-opening of regular business. Readers of this column will also know that what happened next was historic, for that is now the highest opening ever for a film not to reach $100 million. Critics had the film at 39%. Audiences gave it a B- at Cinemascore. Word-of-mouth combined with Peacock discovery resulted in just a 1.86 multiple and a total of just over $92 million. That was still well into profit but a record-breaking drop.
Halloween Ends opens in a not entirely dissimilar landscape. Yes, moviegoing is definitely back, but Universal opted to make the Blumhouse production available on Peacock again. It has a 40% with critics and a C+ Cinemascore. (Universal got the same rating for previous horror releases Old, The Wolfman, Devil, The Skeleton Key, Bordello of Blood, Dr. Giggles, and William Friedkin’s The Guardian.) Kills made $4.9 in its Thursday opening; Ends grossed $5.4 million before Friday, but it finished the weekend with a lower $41.3 million. That’s still the third best Universal horror opening behind Us and Kills, but that 70.8% drop that Kills experienced last year looms over what could be another historic showing for a $40+ million opening not to reach $100 million. Ends potentially could become the 11th film to achieve that and the second this year after Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore opened to $42.1 million and finished with $95.8 million. Cloverfield is the only original film on that list. The rest are either sequels, franchise reboots, or Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail.
Normally when one genre film directly challenges another, the drop of its predecessor can be a steep one. That is not the case with Smile, which is the gift that keeps giving to this autumn season. Despite all the business for Halloween Ends this weekend, Smile still managed to gross another $12.4 million, a drop of just 33%. That brings its 17-day total to over $71 million. Though it is about $13 million behind the pace of 1994’s Interview with the Vampire, it’s roughly the same amount that film made in its third weekend on its way to grossing over $105 million. Smile’s total to date is right in the vicinity of the first two Scream sequels and Saw III, which grossed disproportionate third weekends between $6.9 million and $9.1 million. Still, more than two weeks away from an Oct. 31 bump, Smile is going to cruise past $90 million, likely outgross Halloween Ends, and wind up making a run at Interview’s total as well if the drops hold the way they have these last two weeks.
One film not going as well as Sony hoped is the family release Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. There was some early speculation among pundits that this might even have had a chance at $100 million given the lack of family releases (and the upcoming 2022 schedule is not entirely promising either). But in just 10 days, the film has made a mere $22 million. That is less than the 3-D double feature release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 back in 2009, which also had a $7.7 million second weekend compared to Lyle’s $7.39 million. The Pixar double play had more significant drops in its third and fourth weekend, so Lyle should be able to pick up some ground, but even if it remains relatively on par with Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, it is only going to put the $50 million-budgeted film at around $35 million.
Holding well in fourth place is Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King with another $3.5 million, bringing its total to over $56 million. It is looking to land somewhere between $63-67 million domestic. It could still use an international push, though, where it has only grossed another $16.8 million so far. Don’t Worry Darling is trying to fight the good fight to get to $50 million but is still going to come up short. Another $2.1 million this weekend brings its total to $42.4 million, which puts it about $1.3 million off the pace of The Kingdom, which had roughly the same fourth weekend and finished with $47.5 million. The little horror film that could, Barbarian, grossed another $1.4 million in its sixth week, bringing its total to nearly $39 million. The $4.5 million-budgeted film is on its way to gross over $40 million. The really little horror film that could, Terrifier 2, pulled off a little miracle of itself by not only extending its theatrical run for another week in 700 theaters but by moving up the ladder into 9th place for a second week in the top 10. It is estimated to gross another $850,000, bringing its total to $2.2 million.
Not doing well at all is last week’s release of David O. Russell’s Amsterdam. Another $2.89 million in its second week brings its total to a mere $12 million. The film looks as if it is going to lose over $100 million, making it the third biggest flop of the year after Roland Emmerich’s disastrous Moonfall and Pixar’s Lightyear. Robert Eggers’ The Northman is also in that vicinity, as are The 355 and the aforementioned Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Bros, on the other hand, will go down more as a big disappointment than anything else. With nearly $11 million made on a $22 million budget, Universal has had bigger losers this year, including Ambulance, Beast, and especially The 355. At least they had Minions: The Rise of Gru and Jurassic World: Dominion, which recently crossed the billion mark worldwide. Finally, welcome back to the top 10, Pete. Top Gun: Maverick got back into the final slot this week with $680,000. Its total is now nearly $716 million domestic and $1.48 billion worldwide. It is by far the most profitable film of the year to date.
United Artists Releasing put out Till on 16 screens over the weekend and it grossed $240,940 for a per-theater average of $15,058, the 16th best of the year. Meanwhile, Focus added 32 more theaters for Todd Field’s Tár with Cate Blanchett and it added $360,154 for a 10-day total of $585,000. That is ahead of the pace of the Viggo Mortensen film Captain Fantastic, which also went from four theaters to 36 in its second week and grossed $288,888 for a 10-day total of $417,708. It expanded into 104 theaters in weekend three and ultimately went on to gross over $5.8 million. Blanchett is expected to be a frontrunner again for Best Actress.
Theaters have been doing OK this autumn season but they will get a boost when DC’s Black Adam with Dwayne Johnson hits their venues. The antihero origin story may turn out to be the first film this year to hit $200 million, though probably not $300 million, as it will take a hit with Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever coming just three weeks later. Also hoping to make a splash with adult audiences is the movie star vehicle of the season, Ticket To Paradise. The George Clooney/Julia Roberts sparring rom-com from Universal has already grossed over $60 million internationally. Also be on the lookout in limited release for two of the best-reviewed films of the year. Martin McDonugh’s The Banshees of Inisherin with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson currently boasts a perfect 100% on the Tomatometer. Then Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun from A24, which is making people ugly cry up and down, looks to find an audience. Certified Fresh at 97%, it already found one with critics.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by Ryan Green /©Universal Pictures