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‘Halloween Kills’ Thrills With $50M+ Opening, Soaring Above Projections, Even With Peacock Day & Date

Saturday AM Update: There’s something interesting here with the overperformance of Universal/Blumhouse/Miramax’s Halloween Kills: the pic, while well ahead of its mid $30Ms-$40M projection, is arguably the highest opening we’ve seen during the pandemic for a theatrical-day-and-date, non-transactional title with $50.16M. Overall, the 10th best opening in October. This doesn’t include Disney+ Premier fare whereby those subscribers have to fork over an additional $29.99 to watch a title. All of this bodes well for Warner Bros. and Legendary’s domestic launch of Dune next weekend, also on HBO Max, as a great opening could raise that pic’s profile heading into Oscar season.

Halloween Kills’ big opening here is also a testament to Universal’s marketing machine to open the title. The pic was blasted through the media conglom’s Symphony program, meaning it’s blitzed throughout all Comcast NBCUniversal ancillaries. This created a situation where tracking was extremely hot well before the move was made to go date and date with the sequel on Peacock. While the first movie carried a global P&A for $75.5M, I understand that this one is definitely north of that, though lower than $100M.

‘Halloween Kills’
Universal/courtesy Everett

Now, there are two thoughts on the overperformance of Halloween Kills: While the theatrical window faithful will insist more money could have been made without the streaming component, understand that Peacock may not even be making a dent here at the box office, as Comcast NBCUniversal is truly starving to build their OTT platform. Few pay for Peacock which is predominantly a free ad-driven OTT service (quite different from those who pay for HBO Max). MoffetNathanson in a July report estimated that Peacock has just 3 million paid U.S. subscribers (as of March 31, 2021) with around one-third of them from Apple and Roku. Those services are estimated to take around 20% of Peacock’s revenue in sharing agreements. Peacock has the lowest amount of paid subscribers among  the streaming services, the top at the time stateside being Netflix (66.2M), Hulu (41.6M), Disney+ (38M) and HBO Max (20.7M). Eeks. The hope by Comcast NBCUniversal is that Halloween Kills spurs paid subscribers to Peacock with the Super Bowl and Beijing Olympics on the horizon. It was a decision that was made well ahead of Universal’s successful $20M opening of Candyman in late August, though announced in early September after the success of Shang-Chi. The studio claims that their experiment with DreamWorks Animation’s Baby Boss: Family Business in theatrical and on Peacock was a success, however that sequel stateside only grossed $57.2M, and we’ve heard from sources that the Summer Olympics didn’t prove to be the adrenaline Peacock needed.

Wait, wait, we’re completely disregarding the elephant in the room: After all the noise between Universal and AMC on keeping a theatrical window, and the exhibitor receiving a percentage of PVOD revenues, how in God’s name did the studio get exhibition on board with a day-and-date theatrical release such as Halloween Kills? Turned out that exhibition had confidence in the sequel’s tracking, and Universal provided very good terms to movie theaters due to the Peacock pivot. One small exhibitor tells Deadline that they’re taking home a 45% rental on Halloween Kills, which they consider to be very fair.


But, hey, Wall Street, it’s time to celebrate: This is the third box office weekend in a row where all films grossed over $100M, this frame racking up an estimated $110M. The box office is coming back. The top three movies —Halloween Kills, No Time to Die, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage– are racking up $15M+ each, a scenario we haven’t had since January 2020. Deal with it, Wall Street, after those zany projections you trumpeted on No Time to Die. MGM/UAR’s No Time to Die is seeing a second weekend of $24.4M, -56%, not too far from the -55% we predicted, giving the 007 title a running total through ten days that’s just under $100M.

Whether there’s any further dent to Halloween Kills’ box office next weekend from Peacock will be slightly hard to decipher: Horror movies typically drop in weekend 2: 2018 Halloween had a nice -59% hold (on average horror pics drop 60% in weekend 2), but that was off a B+ CinemaScore. Halloween Kills landed a B- grade. PostTrak also isn’t so hot for the sequel, with 69% positive, and 52% definite recommend exits. While Halloween Kills received some positive reviews out of its Venice Film Festival launch, critical reception crumbled to 39% Rotten vs. the 2018 reboot’s 79% certified fresh.

Now here’s where the whole Peacock paid subscriber strategy possibly backfires on Halloween Kills: Unlike a Marvel Disney+ movie which could get people in the theater the first time around, and their repeat business on the service, with bad grades like this on Halloween Kills, there may not be that halo effect on Peacock. If those finding the sequel in the movie theater were turned off by it, why would they be influenced to buy it a second-time at home? A conundrum, indeed.

Jamie Lee Curtis in ‘Halloween Kills’

Halloween Kills’ Friday of $22.86M while high ranks behind the $33M opening day of 2018’s Halloween and the $26.3M opening day of Blumhouse/Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 3 in 2012, but ahead of the $18.3M first day of 2003’s Scary Movie 3. Box office analytics firm EntTelligence showed that over 4M patrons watched Halloween Kills to date paying an average ticket price of $12.87 to see Michael Myers’ carnage compared to Peacock’s at home ask of $4.99, “proving that no matter the cost, people love the theater… or at least prefer to be around others when terrified,” says the firm in a statement. Of those who went to see the sequel on Thursday night, that was 375k people vs. A Quiet Place Part II which pulled in 365k on its Thursday night. Horror always has an evening pop, and Halloween Kills saw over 36% of its audience after 9PM on Friday vs. Candyman which pulled in 27% of its audience in the late hours. In Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak exits, Halloween Kills drew Men 25+ (31%), Females 25+ (25%), Men under 25 (23%), and females under 25 (22%) with 62% between 18-34. A diverse crowd here with 38% Caucasian, 33% Hispanic, 16% African American and 7% Asian. Halloween Kills played evenly throughout the U.S. with the East, South Central and West popping.

“The Last Duel”
Venice Film Festival

On the lower end of results, 20th Century Studios/Disney’s Ridley Scott movie The Last Duel isn’t faring well with a $1.86M Friday and $5M opening. With an audience that skews 28% over 25, one could continue to make the argument that the older demos aren’t out in full yet, however, this is a very hard movie in its rape subject to stomach (this despite a B+ CinemaScore, but a 72% PostTrak) and it isn’t necessarily the type of movie to bring older audiences back. You also have No Time to Die in the marketplace, which is holding very well, and stealing all the older audiences away with a 32% draw over 45. All of this said, good on Disney for not abandoning the movie, despite the fact that the administration who greenlit Scott’s latest are well gone. iSpot shows that Disney shelled out $15.2M on U.S. TV spots for Last Duel across CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and ABC, which isn’t that far from what the studio paid to release their 20th acquisition Ad Astra in the fall of 2019, those spots being valued at $16.5M. Disney also launch Last Duel at the Venice Film Festival. In fact, iSpot shows Disney outspending Universal on their TV spots for Halloween Kills, valued at $10M. Last Duel notched more impressions than Halloween Kills, 857M to 633M. The Scott movie played very soft across the country, though better in the West and Mountain regions with six of the top ten locations in California. A 55% male skewing movie with 48% between 18-34.

Breaking into the top 10 are Sarigama Cinema’s Most Eligible Bachelor from filmmaker Bommarillu Baskar about married couple Akhil and Pooja. The Telugu language movie is seeing an estimated $230K on Friday and $712K for the weekend. Overall, 195 runs in 86 markets with money earned in Dallas, San Francisco and NYC. Then there is the Punjabi language title Honsla Rakh booked at 100 theaters in 37 markets with solid ticket sales in Canada and some in NYC, San Francisco and Sacramento. The Amarjit Singh Saron directed movie is looking at $194K yesterday and $582K for the weekend. Both titles are occupying respectively the 9th and 10th spots on the weekend chart. Honsla Rakh follows a young Punjabi man, who’s a single father with a seven year old boy. He attempts to find love again, find a mom for his son, but crosses paths with his ex who comes back into the city after a seven year gap. Pic is set in Vancouver, Canada.

Top 5 pics:

1.) Halloween Kills (Uni/Blum/Miramax) 3,705 theaters, Fri $22.8M, 3-day $50.1M/Wk 1

2.) No Time to Die (UAR) 4407 theaters, Fri $7.2M (-69%), 3-day $24.4M (-56%), Total $99.7M/Wk 2

3.) Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) 4.013 (-212) theaters, Fri $4.58M (-50%), 3-day $16M (-55%), Total: $167.8M/Wk 3

4.) Addams Family 2 (UAR) 3,607 (-600) theaters, Fri $1.89M (-32%), 3-day $6.7M (-33%), Total $41.8M/Wk 3

5.) The Last Duel (20th/Disney) 3,065 theaters, Fri $1.86M/3-day $5M/Wk 1

Friday Midday Update: The theatrical day-and-date of Halloween Kills on streaming service Peacock doesn’t look to be slowing the sequel’s box office traction down. Noon estimates show the pic making $21M today, including $4.85M previews, for an estimated $47.5M 3-day. That’s 38% off from the 2018 reboot’s opening weekend (the 4th best for October at $76.2M). Coincidentally, the difference in opening weekends between 2009’s Halloween 2 and the 2007 Halloween re-imagination was also -38%. As of right now, Halloween Kills weekend is matching that of Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II which also minted a 3-day of $47.5M over Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully turnstiles won’t slow for Halloween Kills as horror films tend to be front-loaded. One film financier phoned me early this AM and pointed out that he saw this overperformance coming given the sequel’s wild fever on social media.

RelishMix reports that Halloween Kills skewed under 25 on social media with awareness stats well above horror norms by 34% at 145.1M total across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube with 57.8M views and a strong viral rate of 33:1. Universal pulled 30.3M fans on Facebook for the film while Blumhouse social media counts 1.2M fans.

Halloween Kills has super-social Jamie Lee Curtis stoking the flames with 6.6 million fans along with co-stars Kyle Richards at 5.8M, Judy Greer at 1.1M, Thomas Mann at 106K, Andi Matichak at 67K, and Anthony Michael Hall at 50K.

As far as the online chatter goes, RelishMix reports, “With a franchise across a generations, a horror picture that has family appeal, stirs mentions of the strength of the enduring characters and how well Halloween has held up, many notes about story structure and cliff hangers. Fans scream warnings on social for Michael to ‘Give up, the whole town is against you.’ And, what’s funny, are fans who in general, hate that reviews are posted with spoilers before films are released.”

I understand the decision to go day-and-date on Peacock with Halloween Kills was planned well in advance of the vibrant $20M opening of Universal/MGM’s Candyman in late August. While the public line is that it’s about concern for moviegoers during Covid and giving them a choice, clearly this is a big brassy stunt for Universal’s Peacock. They greatly need to spike subscribers and need content to draw viewers to a higher paying no-ad tier.


Wall Street, wake up: This is an excellent box office weekend for the pandemic, the third back-to-back $100M-plus weekend for all films. And guess, what? UAR/MGM’s No Time to Die is looking good with a $7M-$7.5M second Friday on its way to a second weekend of $26M-$27M in the No. 2 spot, down 51% to 53%. What does that mean? Older demos do take longer to come out and with a hold like that, indeed they are. No Time to Die‘s current second weekend hold is in the range of Spectre (-52%), slightly ahead of Skyfall (-54%) and better than Quantum of Solace (-60%).

If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s Dominic Patten and I talking with Curtis about the significance of Halloween Kills, a sequel which she calls “prescient” in regards to the protests and mob violence that erupted in 2020.

Meanwhile, the opening for 20th/Disney’s The Last Duel is low, very low with an estimated $2M-$3M Friday at 3,065 theaters on its way to a $5M-$7M opening. Not the lowest opening for a Ridley Scott-directed movie: Some of his low domestic debuts include A Good Year ($3.7M) and 1492 ($3M).

Friday AM Update: Universal/Miramax/Blumhouse’s sequel Halloween Kills, which also is available to paid subscribers on NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock today, made $4.85M from 7 p.m. shows Thursday night booked at 2,950 theaters.


While that amount is lower than the $7.7M previews of 2018’s Halloween — which wound up being the best opening and highest-grossing film in the franchise with $76.2M three-day, $159.3M domestic and $255.6M worldwide — the R-rated Halloween Kills bested the PG-13 Thursday preview results of A Quiet Place 2 ($4.8M, 5 p.m. shows) and Universal’s genre pandemic movies Candyman ($1.9M, 7 p.m. at 2,750 theaters), and Blumhouse’s The Forever Purge ($1.3M, 7 p.m. shows at 2,580).

Venice Review: Jamie Lee Curtis In ‘Halloween Kills’

The rebooted franchise from filmmaker David Gordon Green and star Jamie Lee Curtis — the franchise’s legend of six pics — is expected to open to mid- to high-$30Ms at 3,700 theaters. It’s expected to be another strong pandemic October weekend after the openings of Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($90M) and United Artists Releasing’s No Time to Die, which did $55.2M, an amount of money that was good enough for exhibition; the Daniel Craig film posted a $75.2M first week. No Time to Die is expected to ease by about 55% in Weekend 2 to around $25M.

We’re lowballing on Halloween Kills given its availability on Peacock, which started today, giving the film technically a one-night theatrical window. There’s also the movie’s awful critic reviews of 45% Rotten, a drop from the 2018 pic’s 79% Certified Fresh. In Canada, Halloween Kills is theatrical sans Peacock, but arrives November 4 on PVOD.

‘Halloween Kills’ Trailer Escapes Custody

International, which is purely theatrical since there’s no Peacock, starts this weekend as well in the Mexico and the UK.

20th Century

20th Century Studios/Disney also has Ridley Scott’s French 1300s drama The Last Duel this weekend. The movie isn’t expected to do well, in the mid- to-high-single digits, and that’s already showing in its Thursday night previews which drew $350K starring off of 6 p.m. showtimes.

Even though the movie is from Scott and has a favorable Rotten Tomatoes Score of 86% Certified Fresh, the pic has a polarizing story. Anecdotally, some awards voters we watched the movie with were really turned off by it.  Set during the Hundred Years War, The Last Duel follows the rape of a knight’s (Matt Damon) wife (Jodie Comer) by his former friend and fellow knight (Adam Driver). The movie, which runs at 2 hours and 32 minutes, is told from each of their viewpoints. The Last Duel is on a theatrical window, given 20th’s previous pay cable deals.

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