Gravity began this month holding onto its record for the best ever October opening weekend with $55.7 million, a record it held for just shy of five years. Then Venom came along and put up $80.2 million on its first weekend. As the estimates shifted during this weekend, there was danger that David Gordon Green’s Halloween, the 40-years-later direct sequel to John Carpenter’s classic, would unseat Venom after just two weeks. Alas, the new slasher movie will have to settle for second with a still-incredible $77.5 million haul. Neither Halloween nor Venom is likely to unseat the $274 million total that Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi spectacular made to become the all-time October champion, but Green’s film could take a run at Get Out to become the highest-grossing Blumhouse production of all time.
Halloween’s reported $15 million production budget (Box Office Mojo reports $10 million) would be the most expensive for Blumhouse (over the $13 million for The First Purge). Halloween, which is Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer with 80%, earned half of that back just in Thursday-night previews with $7.7 million. Its $33.3 million Friday haul did best Venom’s $32.5 million Friday take, but it still came up just short of the October weekend record. On the other hand, that Friday performance – including Thursday previews – was more money than any other David Gordon Green film made in their entire domestic run (excepting Pineapple Express).
Now, what are its long-term prospects? Only five films have ever had a $30 million Friday and failed to reach $200 million domestically. They were 2009’s Fast and Furious, Fifty Shades of Grey, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Simpsons Movie, and the first Twilight film. (At over $170 million after 17 days, Venom is on a path to the $200 million milestone, or would be the first film ever not to reach it with such a total after 17 days.) Crammed between the $123.4 million opening for It in 2017 and this year’s $53.8 million start for The Nun, there is not much of a precedent for what Halloween could do moving forward. Multiples for successful horror openings are wildly inconsistent with some films opening with more than $40 million having multiples of 3.00 (A Quiet Place, Split, The Conjuring, and The Meg) and others under 2.2 (The Nun, Paranormal Activity 2, Insidious: Chapter 2, Paranormal Activity 3, and 2009’s Friday the 13th). Halloween would need a 2.58 multiple to reach $200 million, but just a 2.27 one to surpass Get Out as Blumhouse’s all-time domestic champion; it earned $176 million in the U.S. One thing is for certain: Halloween will have no competition next weekend on the weekend before Oct. 31.
Things are not looking up for Damien Chazelle’s First Man; the 46% drop it experienced this weekend – partially due to Neil Armstrong losing a bunch of IMAX screens to Michael Myers – is not what optimists were looking for. We tried to put a positive face on its $16 million opening last weekend, but it is now looking like the movie will come in on the low end of the projected $55-$75 million total. Its international total is at $55 million. Hopefully for Universal, a perceived underperformance at the box office will not impact the movie’s Oscar chances – it remains one of the best-reviewed wide releases of the year.
Staying put in the no. 2 spot for the third straight week is Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born, which now stands at $126 million. The average final gross of films that have earned between $120 million and $130 million after 17 days is $180 million. Wedding Crashers is the only live-action film since 2000 to have made less than $133 million after 17 days and still reach the $200 million milestone. It had made just $115.6 million at this stage of its theatrical release.
Fox, like Universal, had a trifecta in the top 10 this week. The numbers for its Bad Times at the El Royale are not-so-good indeed, with the movie dropping 53% for a total take so far of $13.3 million, but George Tillman Jr.’s The Hate U Give (96% on the Tomatometer) expanded wide after two weeks of limited release to gross nearly as much as Halloween did Thursday night with $7.5 million for the weekend. Fox Searchlight also finally pushed David Lowery’s The Old Man & The Gun into wide release (802 theaters) to break into the top 10. It has grossed $4.2 million to date.
In more limited releases, Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s (80% on the Tomatometer), grossed $249,500 in four theaters. That is the sixth best per-theater-average opening ($58,000) in A24’s history, behind Moonlight, Lady Bird, Spring Breakers, Eighth Grade, and The Disaster Artist. Pretty good company. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (99% on the Tomatometer), with award hopefuls Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, made $150,000 in five theaters. That is right behind Fox Searchlight’s Kinsey, Once, (500) Days of Summer, and Win Win. Each went on to gross over $9 million. Then there was Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife (96% on the Tomatometer), with award hopeful Carey Mulligan. According to Saturday estimates, it made $112,000 for the third best per-theater-average for IFC in 2018, behind The Death of Stalin and Let the Sunshine In.
As for other expansion news, Amazon’s Beautiful Boy moved into 44 additional theaters and grossed an estimated $439,056. Its total now stands at $722,008. Mountain-climbing documentary Free Solo – Certified Fresh at 98% – added 124 theaters and grossed $965,000 for a total of $3.5 million. Annapurna’s The Sisters Brothers added 1,012 theaters to its run, and it came in with just $742,014 for a total so far of $1.9 million.
A different kind of Halloween sequel had the no. 1 spot at the box office: Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween. Though it opened to $21.2 million, it only managed to climb to $47.3 million total; the original had made $73.2 million the year before. Gerard Butler fought the weather in Geostorm, which finished second with $13.7 million on its way to becoming a major loser for Warner Bros. Sony did no better with the critically acclaimed the true story of firefighters, Only the Brave, which grossed just $6 million. Finally, infamous flop The Snowman grossed just $3.3 million and finished with a grand total of $6.7 million domestic. The top 10 grossed a total of $76.4 million and had an average score on the Tomatometer of 55.9% thanks mainly to the average 9% Tomatometer scores collected by Geostorm, The Snowman, and Boo 2. This year, Halloween grossed more than last year’s top 10 combined. This weekend also posted a stronger average Tomatometer of 69.4%, with an estimated total haul of $157.6 million.
The month of October is going out with a whimper before the holiday movie season kicks into gear. Gerard Butler is back. This time not in outer space but underwater in a submarine in Hunter Killer. Rowan Atkinson is also back in Johnny English Strikes Again. There is also Indivisible, the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner. Opening in limited release is Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria, and check your area for the new 4K restoration of John Carpenter’s The Fog while the follow-up to his Halloween dominates the box office for a second weekend.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]