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David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills is doing killer business at the domestic box office, where it scared up the biggest horror opening of the pandemic era. It also boasts the top start for a movie launching simultaneously in theaters and on a streaming service at no extra cost.
Green’s R-rated slasher pic earned $50.4 million from 3,705 theaters in North America. Halloween Kills also launched Friday on Universal’s sister streaming service, Peacock.
Day-and-date releases, a controversial practice, have become commonplace during the pandemic as media conglomerates race to grow their streaming services and use feature movies as bait. Previously, Godzilla vs. Kong boasted the biggest domestic box office opening for a pandemic-era dual release ($31.6 million).
The performance will no doubt please advocates of drastically shortening or collapsing the exclusive theatrical window. Such advocates include NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell, who oversees Universal and Peacock.
Peacock, like most other steamers, didn’t disclose any viewership numbers for Halloween Kills. At the box office, it came in ahead of expectations.
“We obviously had a very enthusiastic audience that was extremely eager to get out to theaters. A film like Halloween Kills is going to be best experienced in theaters, where the person next to you is gasping, and another is screaming. It makes it just that much more of a true experience,” says Universal’s domestic distribution chief Jim Orr.
The film started off overseas with $5.5 million from 20 markets for an early global total of $55.9 million, meaning the film has already earned more than double its production budget ($23 million) before marketing.
Halloween Kills, made by Universal in concert with Miramax and Blumhouse, is a follow-up to Green’s smash 2018 Halloween reboot, which opened to a record-breaking $76.2 million on its way to earning north of $250 million worldwide. The new generation of films see Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their signature roles as Laurie Strode and the menacing monster Michael Myers.
Halloween Kills was a destination event for younger consumers, who are thus far fueling the box office recovery. Among ticket buyers, 73 percent of the audience were 35 and under, including 44 percent under 24. The audience was also ethnically diverse; Caucasians made up 38 percent, followed by Latinos (33 percent), Blacks (16 percent) and Asians/other (13 percent), according to PostTrak surveys.
The pic posted the best start for a horror film since the COVID-19 crisis commenced, besting A Quiet Place Part II ($47.5 million). Throughout the pandemic, superhero and horror offerings have done best.
Green’s movie had no trouble winning the weekend ahead of James Bond installment No Time to Die, which tumbled a not-so-great 56 percent to $24.3 million in its second outing for a 10-day domestic total of $99.5 million.
At the same time, No Time to Die is certainly no slouch as it nears the $450 million mark globally. The MGM and Eon movie continues to ring up bigger numbers overseas, as all Bond films do. It earned another $54 million this weekend for a foreign tally of $348.3 million and $447.5 million worldwide (and that’s without China, where it lands Oct. 29).
Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage opened in earnest overseas to top the international chart with a weekend haul of $62.3 million from 44 markets for a foreign cume of $115.6 million and $283.7 million worldwide. That excludes China, where Chinese war epic The Battle of Lake Changjin earned another $71 million to cross the $755 million mark in ticket sales.
Domestically, Venom 2 finished Sunday with $168.1 million after earning $16.5 million in its third weekend.
Unlike Venom 2, No Time to Die needs older adults to prosper, a demo that’s fallen out of the habit of going to the movies due to COVID. While the latest Bond movie has succeeded in convincing many to return to the cinemas for the first time in more than 18 months, winning over older adults is a slow process.
That’s part of the reason why Ridley Scott’s A-list The Last Duel bombed in its debut with $4.8 million domestically. Set in 14th century France, the movie stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck.
The Last Duel, opening in fifth place, needed older adults even more than Bond; 80 percent of the audience was 25 and older, including a hefty 50 percent over 35. Ethnically, the audience mix was 63 percent Caucasian, 17 percent Latino, 11 percent Asian/other and 9 percent Black.
Nor does it help that historical epics are a challenging genre even in normal times. And while critics embraced The Last Duel, the movie received a B+ Cinemascore from audiences despite glowing reviews. Disney inherited the project when absorbing 20th Century Fox.
The Last Duel started off its foreign run with a lackluster $4.2 million from 37 markets for a global launch of just $9 million.
Both that film and No Time to Die are playing exclusively in theaters.
At the specialty box office, National Geographic Film’s acclaimed Thai cave drama The Rescue, from Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, expanded into a total of 552 theaters. The documentary took in $386,400 for a 10-day domestic tally just north of $460,000.
Oct. 17, 8:15 a.m. Updated with Sunday estimates.
Oct. 17, 10:15 a.m. Updated with foreign grosses.
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