Box-Office Preview: Tom Hanks' 'Inferno' Set to Win Horror-Light Halloween Weekend

Sony Pictures
'Inferno'

While the summer was jam-packed with horror titles, the late October corridor is short on spooky films outside of last weekend's 'Ouija: Origin of Evil.'

It turns out Hollywood celebrated Halloween early this year — at least at the box office.

A slew of horror films did big business this summer, while the late October corridor is light on traditional terror-inducing titles.

The only new movie opening nationwide on Friday is anything but a traditional Halloween offering: Ron Howard's mystery-thriller Inferno, the third installment in Sony's Da Vinci Code series starring Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon. Prerelease tracking suggests the adult-leaning film, co-starring Felicity Jones, will open anywhere between $20 million and $30 million, enough to win the weekend crown.

The biggest Halloween-themed title this season is Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween, a comedy-horror parody that debuted to a stellar $28.5 million last weekend for Perry and Lionsgate.

Madea Halloween easily bested this year's sole holiday horror offering, Universal and Blumhouse Productions' prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil, which opened to $14.1 million. On the same pre-Halloween weekend in 2014, the first Ouija scared up nearly $20 million in its domestic debut.

"Horror has become a 52-week-a-year business and is no longer defined by any particular season or holiday," notes box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of comScore. "Just look at the sheer number of successful horror films released this year during virtually every release corridor. Boo! is really the only film to tie directly to Halloween this year and pretty much cornered the market."

Dergarabedian adds that with Halloween falling on a Monday this year, many consumers will be more focused on celebrating the holiday over the weekend versus taking a trip to the multiplex. Plus, there's the distraction of the presidential election and the historic World Series showdown between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

Jeff Bock, another box-office analyst, doesn't expect the Halloween horror drought to last.

"The problem is, since the Paranormal Activity and Saw franchises faded to black, there has been no true successor to the horror throne during the haunting Halloween season," he notes. "Just look at this year — only one horror film was released in October [Ouija: Origin of Evil]. That's vastly under-serving a contingent of fans that have fueled a multitude of horror hits in 2016. Chalk up this year's dearth of chill pills as an anomaly, and one that will be resurrected next year."

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