‘Candyman’ Crushing Late August B.O. With Near $21M Opening

Saturday AM Update: In the wake of a CinemaCon, which rallied hopes that exhibition would indeed rise from the ashes of a pandemic and an industry intoxicated by streaming, comes Universal/MGM/Monkeypaw’s reboot of 1990s horror IP Candyman, which is bound for a $20.7M weekend opening.

Not only does the debut indicate the continued appetite for moviegoing among the 18-34 bunch, which turned out at 71% here, but it’s a solid opening for a horror movie during late August, which isn’t exactly a prime time for the box office.

Candyman is on a 21-day theatrical window, and it’s a notable win here for Universal, which has a stellar reputation for making movies about and for diverse audiences. Turning out big for this horror pic starring HBO Watchmen‘s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II were 37% Black, 22% Latino, 29% White, and 12% Asian/other. The movie grossed $9.1M at 3,569 locations on Friday, which includes those $1.9M Thursday previews.

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Uni has a great start here heading into the fall box office, which many are hoping becomes redefined in a great way by Disney over Labor Day, with Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings. That pic is wowing exhibitors over at CinemaCon, and currently counting a 91% Certified Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.


The Jordan Peele brand here on Candyman as producer and cowriter make a difference, coupled with great reviews, now at 85% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience scores are significantly less than fantastic next to the critical praise, so hopefully that doesn’t diminish Saturday night business, with the Nia DaCosta directed and cowritten feature getting a B CinemaScore, average for a genre pic, and a 72% positive score and 56% recommend on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak.

Candyman leaned toward males at 53%, with close to 60% over 25. The horror pic played best on the East and West coasts and the South. The Midwest was also very strong, with Chicago slotting five out of the top ten theatrical runs. Premium large format screens are currently driving close to a quarter of all domestic ticket sales.

According to Market Insights firm EntTelligence, Candyman scared up evening audiences, with over 35% of attendees showing up at the theater after 9PM. Sony’s Don’t Breathe 2 hovered around 31% during the same evening hours. Those late-nighters paid an average ticket price of $13.72, compared to the daily average of $12.60. As the new wide lone release, Candyman commanded near 43% of all patrons going to the top 10 movies on Friday, followed by Free Guy with 21% and Paw Patrol with 10.5%. EntTelligence uses proprietary technology, machine learning, and moviegoer analysis, which includes on-site ticket price verification to create its metrics and insights.

Social media exploded for Candyman, according to analytics corp RelishMix, which measured an entire reach of 144.1M before opening, a boost from the social media universe of 38.5M on Peele’s 2017 Get Out and 122.8M from 2019’s Us.

Candyman‘s SMU across Facebook, YouTube views, Instagram, and Twitter is close to 40% above the horror genre average. “Keep in mid that the film dropped the first trailer just three weeks before the lockdown in February 2020, and resumed the digital campaign nine weeks ago,” exclaims RelishMix. YouTube views for the seven owned videos are again at 51%, and its viral rate of 19:1 is solid. MGM’s social media channel of 4.2M is in the cross-promotional mix, with Universal Pictures social at 43.2M SMU.

In regards to pre-weekend chatter, RelishMix reports, “While fans debate whether this is a remake or a sequel, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II clarified on Fallon, that this is a continuation of the 1992 original 30 years later. With Jordan Peele on board, fan expectations run high in anticipation of the return of this classic horror villain, who’s described as a ‘Black Freddy or Black Jason’, as the film explores racial issues. Plus, fans are looking at the journey into the fine art world, woven into artists creations, as they are influenced by demons and ghosts.”

Some of the notable social media marketing drops include this featurette about the underlying cultural significance of the film, and how it’s opening doors for young Black creators in the horror genre. This was dropped on Juneteenth and was also livestreamed on Twitter:

Of the social media standouts in the cast, Abdul-Mateen II counts 352K fans.

That’s LOVE! https://t.co/3xmEsf5CSz

— Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2 (@yahya) August 23, 2021

Two days before the trailer drop last year, Peele dared fans to tweet #Candyman five times for an exclusive first look, causing Candyman to be conjured more than 40k times and helping to push the film to a top trend both nationally and globally.

Since last year, the pic’s trailer garnered more than 75M views, according to Universal, becoming the No. 3 video on YouTube and generating multiple trending topics on Twitter, including Peele, Candyman, and “Say My Name.” The second trailer drop on June 23 of this year yielded more than 60M views since its debut, placing it in line with some of the most successful horror titles of the past few years.

Other highlights from the digital campaign for the film included a Snapchat lens, which sees users saying “Candyman” five times as bees swarm around them. In Chicago there was a stunt activation that dared those passing by to come into a mirrored booth to say “Candyman” five times.


Also amazing here in the late summer frame is the third weekend hold of Disney/20th Century Studios’ Free Guy, which is expected to ease -30% in weekend 3 with $12.9M. The Ryan Reynolds movie will stand at $78.7M by the end of the weekend. Yesterday the pic grossed $3.6M at 3,940 theaters, -31% from its second Friday.


Other Disney exclamations include Jungle Cruise, which will stand $300K short of the $100M by EOD Sunday. Despite the great hold on this Dwayne Johnson-Emily Blunt theme park-inspired adventure, which in weekend 5 at 3,370 theaters is expected to do $4.6M, -26% in 4th place, we cannot deny the fact that the gross for this movie would be significantly more, and would have crossed the century mark faster, without its day-and-date on Disney+ Premier for $29.99.

On the plus side, Jungle Cruise will hit $100M in roughly 33 days, which is significantly shorter than the time it took Johnson’s Rampage, which was well over 105 days. However, other Johnson fare outside the Fast and Furious franchise has been lightening quick to $100M, including San Andreas (11 days), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (8 days), and Jumanji: Next Level (10 days).

Paramount/Spin Master’s Paw Patrol, in third place at 3,189 locations, posted a second Friday of $1.75M, for a 3-day of $6M, -54% and for a ten-day of $23.4M. The pic is available free in-home to Paramount+ subscribers. Despite the day-and-date release of the animated feature, and its unavailability at Regal Theaters, exhibitors at CinemaCon were rather happy with the pic’s $13.1M start last weekend.

1.) Candyman (Uni) 3,569 theaters Fri $9.1M/3-day $20.7M/Wk 1

2.) Free Guy (Dis/20th) 3,940 (-225) theaters Fri $3.6M (-31%)/3-day $12.9M (-30%)/Total $78.7M/Wk 3

3.) Paw Patrol (Par) 3,189 (+5) theaters Fri $1.75M (-61%)/3-day $6M (-54%)/Total $23.4M/Wk 2

4.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 3,370 (-205) theaters Fri $1.3M (-26%)/3-day $4.6M (-26%)/Total $99.7M/Wk 5

5.) Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) 2,703 (-302) theaters Fri $785K (-48%)/3-day $2.5M (-50%)/Total: $24.2M/Wk 3

6.) Respect (UAR) 2,607 (-600) theaters Fri $629K (-42%)/3-day $2.18M (-42%)/Total $19.65M/Wk 3


Chal Mera Putt 2 (RBE) 67 theaters Fri $163K/$7462K per theater/3-day $500K/Wk 1

Very good per-theater here, or the pandemic for this Janjot Singh-directed Bollywood movie about friendship and love between illegal immigrants who are struggling and facing challenges.

Un Rescate de Huevitos (A Rescue of Little Eggs) (LG/Pant) 320 theaters Fri $127,6K/$1,278 per theater/3-day $409K/Wk 1

Mexican animation film is booked in 59 markets. From directors Gabriel Riva Palacio Alatriste and Rodolfo Riva Palacio Alatriste, the movie follows Toto and his friends, who must rescue his egg children after they’re taken away for a gourmet food event in Africa. OK results in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Austin for this Pantelion release. EntTelligence shows that those who watched the animated film paid an average ticket price of $12.10 per person.

Together (Bleecker) 250 theaters Fri $36K/$396 per theater/3-day $99K/Wk 1

At 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s hard to pull in older adults who are already hesitant to venture out during the pandemic, with this Stephen Daldry-Justin Martin co-directed drama starring James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan as a husband and wife who are forced to reevaluate themselves and their relationship through the reality of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Friday AM Update: Universal/MGM/Monkeypaw’s reimagination of the cult classic horror movie Candyman posted $1.9 million on Thursday from 2750 theaters off shows that began at 7 p.m. The pic, in a recent rare feat for horror pics, has an 86% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Interestingly enough, another critically acclaimed horror release that played the late August period in 2016 off an 88% certified fresh RT, Don’t Breathe, turned into a $26.4M opening and ultimate $89.2M final domestic, a nice sleeper to tee off the fall. Candyman‘s Thursday night beats that of Don’t Breathe, which was $1.875M.

Candyman is set to gross in the mid-teens, though there’s the feeling that this Jordan Peele-produced and coscripted movie with director Nia DaCosta can overperform, and after Free Guy‘s hold, it’s another vibrant sign for a box office that’s looking to return to some normalcy. Males between ages 17-34 are the prime demo here, and, well, that’s who’s been unafraid to head to the cinema during the pandemic.

The R-rated pic will play in 3,569 theaters today, and it’s the weekend’s only wide release. Uni held this for a theatrical release during the pandemic. But I also hear that the coproduction with MGM here prevented the title from going on day-and-date streaming or PVOD.

Candyman beats other summer pandemic Thursday night previews for horror fare, including Uni/Blumhouse’s The Forever Purge, which did $1.33M heading into the July 4 weekend. That turned out to be a $5.7M opening day and $12.5M weekend opening.

Also, Sony’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which posted $1.2M, and the studio’s Don’t Breathe 2, which posted $965K on their first Thursdays. Escape Room 2 posted a $3.8M Friday, a $8.8M opening weekend and has a current running domestic of $25.1M. Don’t Breathe 2 did $4.39M on its opening Friday, $10.6M over its opening weekend and a $21.7M running total through its first two weeks.

Again, we can compare to pre-pandemic grosses, so we can see how much we are above water: Candyman‘s Thursday night bests Get Out‘s $1.8M Thursday (granted, that pic became a social phenomenon heading to $33.3M debut).

The first Candyman opened over October 16-18, 1992, earning $5.4M at 1,251 theaters and finaling at $25.8M domestic. The sequel, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, opened to $6M at 1,605 theaters over March 17-19, 1995, and ultimately grossing $13.9M.

Among other titles in release, Disney/20th Century Studio’s Free Guy did $1.56M yesterday, down 5% from Wednesday, sending its total over two weeks to $65.7M. Paramount/Spin Master’s Paw Patrol was second with $875K, off 4% from Wednesday, for a first week’s take of $17.4M. Disney’s Jungle Cruise posted $550K, -1% from yesterday, with a four-week running total of $95M. Don’t Breathe 2 grossed $401,000, down 20% from Wednesday. MGM/UAR’s Respect was fifth on Thursday with $376K, -9%, and a running two-week domestic gross of $17.4M.

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