Box Office: 'Freaky' Battles COVID-19 Surge With $3.7M Opening

Brian Douglas/Universal Pictures

The Blumhouse and Universal pic came in on the lower end of expectations after movie theaters closed down again in select markets, while health authorities in states across the country urged consumers to stay home.

Blumhouse and Universal's Freaky — a twisted take on the classic body-swap pic Freaky Friday — topped the struggling North American box office with a $3.7 million weekend debut.

The movie came in on the lower end of expectations amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, resulting in theater reclosures last week in major markets including San Diego and Sacramento, and warnings from health authorities in numerous states urging consumers to stay home.

Cinemas are also shutting down again in Oregon, where a two-week lockdown for certain public-facing businesses was announced on Saturday. That was followed Sunday by revised restrictions in Washington state and Michigan that will require theaters to close their doors for the next several weeks. Sources tell The Hollywood  Reporter that parts of New York's Westchester County, as well as Canada's Ontario province — including the greater Toronto area —  are likewise impacted. Temporary reclosures in other jurisdictions are expected in the days ahead.

Overall, 47.7 percent of theaters in the U.S. are up and running, compared to more than 50 percent last month.

Freaky is the 14th Blumhouse film to place No. 1 in its opening. Directed by Happy Death Day’s Christopher Landon, the R-rate film stars an innocent teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) who finds she has switched bodies with a  serial killer (Vince Vaughn).

"I think a combination of factors continues to make this a very challenging marketplace for theatrical releases and, as I’ve been saying all along, the fact that new movies have at least been drawing audiences (albeit in understandably small numbers) to theaters shows that there is still a desire for many consumers to get outside of the house for some sort of 'normal' activity," says Comscore's Paul Dergarabedian in discussing Freaky's debut.

Overseas, where cinemas have reclosed in a number of major European markets, Freaky grossed $1.9 million from 20 markets for a global start of $5.6 million.

Most major Hollywood studios are sitting out the fall season out because of the pandemic. The Universal stable, including Focus Features, is a major exception, in part because of a new early PVOD deal it has struck with AMC Theatres (Freaky hits PVOD on Dec. 3).

Over the weekend, Universal and Focus claimed three of the top five spots on the box office chart. Focus' Let Him Go placed No. 2 in its second weekend with $1.8 million for a domestic total of $6.9 million, while fellow Focus title Come Play came in No. 4 in its third weekend with $1.1 million for a total of $7.3 million.

Indie distributor 101 Studios' The War With Grandpa continued to laugh loudly in its sixth weekend, earning $1.3 million for a domestic total of $15.2 million. It placed third.

Open Road's The Honest Thief rounded out the top five with $800,000 for a domestic total of $12.4 million.

Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m. Updated with Washington state theater reclosures.