‘Halloween’ Slaughters the Competition

He’s baaaaaack.

The return of the unstoppable killer Michael Myers sliced and diced its way to a monster opening this weekend at the North America box office. Riding waves of hype, decent reviews and four decades of nostalgia, Universal’s Halloween came very close to breaking Venom’s recent record for October’s biggest opening ever.

Thanks to an October that’s been playing more like a June or July, the top ten continued on a torrid pace. This weekend, business was up 25% over last weekend and a massive 106% over last year at this time when Boo 2! A Madea Halloween opened in the top spot with $21.2 million.

Not letting age or a legacy of terrible sequels stop him, The Shape made quite the cinematic comeback this weekend in the $10 million sequel/reboot Halloween. David Gordon Green’s acclaimed thriller scored a sensational $77.5 million in its first three days on 3,928 screens.

A direct sequel to the 1978 classic –one whose participants included series creator John Carpenter, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and low-budget horror uber-producer Jason Blum-, the debuting numbers for Halloween had no trouble surpassing the $26 million record opening scored by Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot. Halloween’s opener is also the second biggest ever for an R-rated horror film following the $123 million scared up by IT thirteen months ago.

The daily box office breakdown on Halloween was: $7.7 million from Thursday night previews, $25.5 million from Friday, $27.2 million from Saturday and an estimated $17 million for Sunday.

Green’s sequel scored something truly rare for the 40-year old franchise: decent reviews. A majority of the critics were entertained by the new slasher flick, giving it an 80% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 68/100 on Metacritic. Ticket buyers were in agreement, giving the film a “B+” on CinemaScore.

Where did the massive opening rank among the other films in the franchise? Pre-inflation, it’s at the top of the class, handily surpassing the $58.2 million earned by Zombie’s 2007 reboot. Adjusting for inflation, it currently sits fourth behind the 1978 original, 1998’s Halloween H20 and 1981’s Halloween II. Depending on how the next couple of weeks play out, the new Halloween could come close to the matching the original’s adjusted gross of $183 million.

Internationally, the Michael and Laurie reunion scored an estimated $14 million in ticket sales.

Staying put in second place for the third week in a row was Warner’s smash hit A Star Is Born with an estimated $19.3 million from 3,884 theaters. The acclaimed drama continues to benefit from sensational word-of-mouth as it pushed its domestic total up to $126.3 million after three weeks. A Star Is Born should finish in North America close to $185-190 million. Overseas, the Lady Gaga saga has belted out $74.7 million so far.

Taking one in the gut from Michael Myers, Sony’s Venom fell 48% in its third go around on 3,887 screens, earning an estimated $18.1 million. Venom has grossed a muscular $171.1 million so far in North America and could finish just north of $200 million. Foreign totals for Venom stand at $290.7 million.

Sony’s Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween had a decent second round thanks to the family matinee crowd. The PG-rated sequel eased a moderate 38% to score an estimated $9.7 million in its second session on 3,521 theaters. Goosebumps 2 has made $29 million so far with a final near the $50 million mark a possibility.

Falling out of box office orbit fast in fifth place was Universal’s space drama First Man with an estimated $8.5 million from 3,640 screens. Down 46%, the Damien Chazelle has brought in an underwhelming $29 million so far. Given the film’s box office trajectory, First Man will likely touch down with a weak $45-50 million in ticket sales. Internationally, First Man has scored $25.5 million so far.

  1.  The Hate U Give (Fox) $7.5 million (+331%); $10.6 million

Fox expanded the acclaimed drama on to 2,303 screens this weekend after two weeks of limited runs. Despite critical love – 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 82/100 on Metacritic -, Hate found it a tough go thanks to a very competitive marketplace. Fox is hoping that the feedback generated by viewers – who gave the film an “A+” on CinemaScore -, will keep the film afloat into awards season.

  1.  Smallfoot (Warner) $6.6 million (-28%); $66.3 million
  2.  Night School (2018) (Universal) $5 million (-35%) $67 million
  3.  Bad Times At The El Royale (Fox) $3.3 million (-54%); $13.3 million
  4.  The Old Man & the Gun (Fox Searchlight) $2 million; $4.2 million

The second Fox release to expand nationwide this weekend, this one on 802 screens. Reviews were solid for the Robert Redford feature, which may or may not be his final onscreen role. Old Man & the Gun scored a 90% approval from Rotten Tomatoes and a 79/100 from Metacritic.

Next weekend sees the arrival of the action flick Hunter Killer and something called Indivisible. Not only will neither come close to putting a dent into Halloween’s killer run, neither may have what it takes to move A Star Is Born out of second place.

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