LOS ANGELES — Universal Pictures’ “Halloween Kills” slayed expectations at the North American box office this weekend, scaring up $50.4 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
The dozenth installment in the blockbuster “Halloween” franchise, which was projected to gross $35 million to $40 million, smashed the opening-weekend box office record for a horror film released during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now in second place is Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” which managed to generate a whopping $47.5 million back in May as one of the first highly touted theatrical-exclusive releases amid the ongoing public health emergency. “Halloween Kills” also easily surpassed Warner Bros.’ “The Suicide Squad” as the highest-grossing R-rated movie to launch during the pandemic; the DC antihero film opened to $26 million in August.
In addition to its theatrical release, “Halloween Kills” debuted simultaneously on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, which likely stunted its domestic box office performance to some degree — though clearly not as significantly as projected. Total subscribers for Peacock have not been publicly divulged, but it is known that active accounts for the service’s premium tier rank far behind Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max.
“Despite the fact that this movie was available on Peacock with a relatively modest buy-in — for this movie to earn over $50 million is a real testament to that movie theater experience and how singular, essential and [irreplaceable] it is,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore.
“Because it’s a horror film and an iconic franchise, [people] opted in for that communal experience.”
Stacked up against its 11 predecessors, the latest entry in the gory saga is only second to 2018’s “Halloween” in terms of domestic box office performance. That recent installment also exceeded industry expectations, opening to $76.2 million across North American markets.
Directed by David Gordon Green, the slasher sequel sees Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her seminal final-girl role as Laurie Strode — on the hunt once again for her masked, serial-killer arch nemesis Michael Myers (Nick Castle). Rounding out the main cast are Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Kyle Richards.
By contrast, 20th Century Studios’ “The Last Duel” tanked at the North American box office this weekend, earning a measly $4.8 million despite its “certified fresh” 86% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a respectable B+ from audiences polled by CinemaScore. (“Halloween Kills” scored a dismal 39% on Rotten Tomatoes and a mediocre B- CinemaScore.)
Directed by Ridley Scott, “The Last Duel” unites industry heavyweights Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Adam Driver for a R-rated historical epic set in 14th-century France.