Weekend Box Office: 'Inferno' Flames Out in U.S. With $15M-$16M Halloween Bow

Sony Pictures

The movie is finding itself in an all-too-close race with holdover 'Boo! A Madea Halloween'; overseas is a different story, where the third installment in the long-dormant 'Da Vinci Code' franchise is nearing $150 million in earnings.

Director Ron Howard's mystery-thriller Inferno is flaming out in North America, where it's on course to gross a paltry $15 million-$16 million over Halloween weekend after earning an estimated $5.6 million Friday from 3,576 theaters.

Heading into the weekend, it was a given that Inferno starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones — would win the costume contest with $20 million-$30 million, but it now could tie for No. 1 with Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween. (Most box-office observers show Inferno slightly ahead, but that could change as Saturday unfolds.)

Inferno is the only new nationwide offering gracing the marquee, since many moviegoers are distracted by holiday parties. Also, the World Series is underway, along with the final days of the drama-laced presidential race.

The saving grace for Sony: Inferno is cracking the code overseas, where it opened two weeks ago and is projected to finish Sunday with a foreign total of $150 million. Along with North America, it is launching in China this weekend, where it's projected to come in No. 1 with a solid $14 million, as well as Japan.

The third installment in Sony's long-dormant Da Vinci Code franchise features Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist immortalized in Dan Brown's bestselling book series. In a bid to appeal to younger audiences, the studio and Howard cast Felicity Jones opposite Hanks, and booked the film in Imax theaters. But the movie still isn't displaying fire power, and marks the latest franchise revival to falter. (Dismal reviews surely aren't helping.)

This time out, the story focuses on the symbology of Dante's classic about the levels of hell as Langdon and his newfound partner, played by Jones, must stop a sinister billionaire from destroying the world population by unleashing a killer virus.

It's been a full decade since Howard's The Da Vinci Code, based on Brown's blockbuster novel, played on the big screen in 2006. The movie was a box-office sensation, opening to $77 million domestically on its way to earning $758.2 million worldwide, including a massive $540.7 million overseas. Angels & Demons, released in 2009, did notably less business, or $486 million globally after a $46 million domestic launch. Like Da Vinci Code, the sequel displayed the most firepower abroad, where it earned $352.6 million.

Sony knew the threequel was risky, so spent far less this time out. The first two films cost $150 million to make, while Inferno's budget is $75 million net.

So far, the biggest Halloween-themed title this season is Boo! A Madea Halloween, a comedy-horror parody that debuted to a stellar $28.5 million last weekend for Lionsgate. The movie grossed $4.6 million from 2,299 theaters Friday for an estimated domestic total of roughly $50 million through Sunday.

Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back looks to come in No. 3 in its second weekend with roughly $9 million from 3,780 theaters for a 10-day total of $39 million-$40 million. Warner Bros. and Ben Affleck's The Accountant, now in its third outing, should follow with $8.1 million from 3,402 theaters for a pleasing North American cume of $61 million through Sunday.

Universal and Blumhouse Productions' prequel Ouija: Origin of Evil — the only proper Halloween horror offering this year — is expected to round out the top five with an estimated $6.3 million for an estimated domestic total of $24 million. Ouija opened last weekend alongside Jack Reacher and Madea.

Oct. 28, 1:00 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.

Oct. 29, 7:15 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.