For years, October used to start with a bang. Sci-fi pictures like Gravity and The Martian then gave way to comic book characters like Joker and Venom. They represent five of the biggest seven openers ever in the month. This year, the studios offered up a singing crocodile and a comic mystery with an all-star cast deemed not ready for the prime time of awards season. The results speak for themselves, while theaters can at least look forward to releases of Halloween and Black Adam the next two weeks and just… smile.
For the first time since Bullet Train we have a film that stayed atop the box office for a second straight week. Repeat victor Smile had the biggest opening of September with $22 million and now will hold that title for a few days in October. Word of mouth appears to be more than just solid in the horror community as the film dropped a mere 22% down to $17.6 million. That is a remarkable hold for a horror film that puts it in very rare territory amongst films of its ilk that opened to $10 million or higher. Check out this list of some of the best horror drops (and increases) over the years:
Scream (1996, +42.8%), The Ring (2002, +23.1%), Gremlins (+11.5%), Cape Fear (1991, -2.2%), The Sixth Sense (-3.4%), Get Out (-15.4%), The Devil’s Advocate (-16.0%), Outbreak (-19.5%), Smile (-22.0%), The Others (-22.6%), What Lies Beneath (-23.0%), Final Destination (-27.9%), Insidious (-29.4%), Misery (-29.5%), Flatliners (1990, -29.7%)
Last week, based on horror drops around this period, we set the film’s first estimate between $52-57 million. You can throw that all out. After reaching nearly $50 million in just 10 days, Smile is outpacing Eli Roth’s family horror film The House With A Clock In Its Walls, which had a $12.6 million second weekend and $44.8 million in the bank. Smile is likely to take a bigger hit next week when Halloween Ends becomes the hot ticket for people not staying home to watch it on Peacock. But Roth’s Clock ended up with $68 million, and Smile appears likely to reach somewhere around $80 million, if not higher. How long until Smile 2 is greenlit by Paramount for a forthcoming October?
This week’s slot goes to David O. Russell’s Amsterdam. Russell’s movies have been perpetual awards players since The Fighter in 2010. Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Joy were among them, with the former two also being $100+ million hits. Something already didn’t smell right when Disney/20th Century Studios moved the film from its November slot up to the beginning of October with nary a film festival screening in sight. Not only did it open with a mere $6.5 million, but critics, normally in Russell’s cinematic corner, have scored it at just 33% on the Tomatometer. That’s the only Rotten score of his career if we don’t count the infamous Nailed, aka Accidental Love, which was shut down several times for financial difficulties and had Russell leave the project. The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Three Kings, and his debut, Spanking the Monkey, have all earned over 90% on the Tomatometer. Russell’s films have rarely put up big weekend numbers due to their platform release strategy, but they always grew through word-of-mouth. This is not going to happen with Amsterdam. The percentages of a non-awards contender opening in October to less than $8 million reaching $22 million are in the single digits. Those numbers are ultimately going to make the $80 million-budgeted film one of the biggest flops of the year.
The numbers for Sony’s Lyle, Lyle Crocodile also have to feel like a bit of a disappointment, given the lack of family fare in the marketplace since July’s DC League of Super-Pets. Instead of leading the box office this week with a number in the low 20s as some had speculated, the $50 million-budgeted film opened in second place with just $11.5 million. Ten years ago, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie opened to $11.4 million and ended up with just $35.2 million. Clifford the Big Red Dog opened to $16.6 million last November and finished with $48.9 million. Is anyone going to start writing pieces on how the live-action family film is dead now too or would that be too much like comedy?
Smile is aiming to be the champion of September but The Woman King is not too far behind. Another $5.4 million this weekend brings its total over $54 million. That keeps it above the pace of both Burn After Reading and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, which had $53.5 million banked after 24 days and had just a $3.6 million fourth weekend. It got its total just over $61 million, so that’s your new floor for The Woman King with a ceiling somewhere over $63 million. It has made another $10 million internationally to date. On the flipside of the September coin is Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, which dropped sharply again in its third week. Another 51% fall down to $3.3 million brings its total up to over $38 million. That keeps it below that pace of Rambo: Last Blood and slightly on pace with Resident Evil: Retribution, meaning Darling is going to land somewhere between $42-45 million. It has grossed nearly $70 million globally.
In other horror news, Barbarian continued to quietly turn a profit, earning another $2.3 million and bringing its total to over $36 million. $40 million is in its sights as it should spend at least one more week in the top 10. Breaking into the top 10 is a great little story of the horror film that could. Terrifier 2, which currently boasts a 90% with critics, grabbed the No. 10 spot with an estimated $825,000. It has grossed over $1.2 million since screenings on Tuesday – not bad for a quarter million-budgeted sequel to a film that only played horror festivals before a home video release. Not bad, Art the Clown, not bad. Also doing very well in limited release is Todd Field’s Tár with awards favorite Cate Blanchett, taking in $160,000 in just four locations, which represents the fourth best per-theater average of the year.
The date will be Oct. 14 but that’s apparently when Halloween Ends. The conclusion to David Gordon Green’s Michael Myers trilogy opens in theaters and streams day-and-date on Peacock as audiences await the final showdown with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. Also opening in limited release is Till, the story of Emmett Till and his mother, who fought for justice after his murder. Reviews from the New York Film Festival have given the film an early perfect score of 100%. It opens in limited release on Friday and will expand in the coming weeks.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Warner Bros.