David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills is doing killer business at the box office, where it is headed for the biggest debut of the pandemic era for a horror film or a movie opening simultaneously on the big screen and a streaming service.
Filmmaker David Gordon Green’s R-rated slasher pic earned $22.9 million on Friday from 3,705 theaters in North America for a projected $50 million weekend. Halloween Kills also launched Friday on Universal’s sister streaming service Peacock.
Day-and-date releases, a controversial practice, have become commonplace during the pandemic as media conglomerates race to grow their streaming services and collapse the theatrical window. To date, Godzilla vs. Kong boasts the biggest domestic box office opening for a dual release ($31.6 million).
Halloween Kills, from Universal, Miramax and Blumhouse, is a follow-up to Green’s smash 2018 Halloween reboot, which opened to a record-breaking $76.2 million on its way to earning north of $250 million worldwide. The new generation of films see Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their signature roles as Laurie Strode and the menacing monster Michael Myers.
According to exit polls, Halloween Kills is being fueled by younger consumers — 73 percent of Friday ticket buyers were 35 and under — and a diverse audience.
If projections hold, it will post the best start for a horror film since the COVID-19 crisis commenced, besting A Quiet Place Part II ($47.5 million).
Green’s movie will have no trouble winning the weekend ahead of James Bond installment No Time to Die, which looks to fall 56 percent in its second outing to an okay-but-not-great $24.5 million.
No Time to Die needs older adults to prosper, a demo that’s fallen out of the habit of going to the movies due to the pandemic. The MGM and EON movie has succeeded in convincing many to return — it should finish the weekend with $100 million in domestic ticket sales — but it is a slow process.
Elsewhere, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is bombing in its debut. Set in 14th century France, it grossed $1.9 million on Friday for a projected $4.5 million weekend. The well-reviewed movie stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck.
The Last Duel, expected to open in fifth place, needs older adults even more than Bond; 50 percent of Friday’s audience was 35 and older. Nor does it help that historical epics are a challenged genre. Disney inherited the project when absorbing 20th Century Fox.