Horror Reigns This October As ‘Halloween Ends’ Opens To $41 Million And ‘Smile’ Continues Its Phenomenal Holds
First up, the good news. This weekend had the best total box office in eight weekends, led by Halloween Ends, which had the best opening in 12 weekends. The weekend was 31% above last weekend and 39% above the average of the past seven weekends. After a disastrous two and a half month stretch, the box office is finally lifting back up, and next weekend it should vault above $100 million for the first time since July, led by the release of Black Adam.

As for the bad news, Halloween Ends’ $41.3 million opening was well below expectations, and it ranks as the lowest of the new trilogy. The iconic horror franchise was revived by director David Gordon Green who brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in the 2018 reboot Halloween. The film was a smash, opening to $76.2 million (still the third best ever for a horror film) and ultimately grossing $159 million domestically and $255 million worldwide, but the series has been declining since. The sequel Halloween Kills was possibly impacted by a combination of a sophomore slump, pandemic blues, and its availability on the Peacock streaming platform, and it opened to $49 million and went on to gross $92 million domestically and $132 million worldwide. As Halloween Ends released in a healthier marketplace than a year ago, it was hoped that it would at least match its predecessor.

The new film also received the trilogy’s weakest response from audiences, getting a C+ CinemaScore compared to the B+ on Halloween (2018) and B- on Halloween Kills. Reviews (40% on Rotten Tomatoes) were about on par with Halloween Kills, with both films far below the acclaimed 2018 Halloween (79%). Reviews may not matter here, and a C+ CinemaScore isn’t especially bad for a horror film, but still, there’s nothing here to suggest Halloween Ends won’t repeat Halloween Kills’ abysmal legs. If Ends has the same 1.86 multiplier as Kills, that would give it a domestic finish of $76.7 million, less than half the cume of Halloween (2018).

Universal’s decision to release the film on Peacock day and date with its 3,901 theater release may have cost it a good chunk of the potential gross. Still, despite underperforming, the film looks like a moneymaker. It doesn’t have to worry about recouping its reported $20-30 million production budget after the $58.4 million worldwide debut, and it actually did better abroad than Halloween Kills, though these films are fairly domestic heavy. The opening is still the best of the year for a traditional horror film (not counting Nope, which isn’t exactly straight horror), and it’s still a strong opening if you put the comparisons and expectations aside.

While Halloween Kills by and large had the biggest opening of the season, it has little chance of catching up to the horror sensation Smile. After a solid $22.6 million opening and a fantastic $18.5 million second weekend (dropping only 18%, making it the best holding film of the year), Smile continues to show its great legs, dropping just 33% to finish second with $12.4 million. The cume is now $71.2 million, and it’s on track to pass the $89.9 million cume of The Black Phone in a week or two to become the best grossing straight horror film of the year (Nope grossed $123 million, but again that’s a different beast than the more traditional genre fare). Smile continues to do great abroad as well, down 16% in holdover markets, and it once again did better this weekend than last weekend in many countries. The global cume is now $138 million.

Third place went to Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile with $7.4 million, down just 35% in its second weekend. The hold is undoubtedly great, but the absolute numbers are still lackluster for the family film, which cost $50 million to produce, and the ten day cume is an unimpressive $22.8 million. Still, it’s good to know it didn’t sink, and it has six more weeks with the family market to itself, so it may end up doing okay when it’s all said and done. Internationally it may even end up a hit. The global rollout is minimal so far, with just $3.9 million from a few markets, but it is looking solid so far, with the U.K. opening 50% ahead of its comp Clifford the Big Red Dog (which grossed $58.4 million abroad) and the New Zealand gross growing rather than dropping in its second weekend.

The Woman King came in fourth place with $3.7 million, bringing its cume to $59.7 million. This was another good hold for the film, down 29% in its fifth weekend. Internationally it is still moving slowly despite having opened in most key markets, but the $76.5 million global cume is pretty solid. Some markets still to come are Italy, Spain, and Australia.

Amsterdam took fifth place, grossing $2.9 million. The cume on the $80 million budgeted film is now a mere $12 million domestic, with another $6.5 million coming in from abroad. There’s no sugarcoating what will definitely go down as one of the year’s biggest flops.

Also notable in the top ten is the slasher film Terrifier 2, which opened last weekend in 770 theaters courtesy of Iconic Events Releasing, taking tenth place with $805k. This weekend the screen count fell to 700, but the gross grew to $850k, bringing its cume to $2.3 million.

The weekend’s best per theater average ($30k) came from director Park Chan-wook’s Korean language thriller Decision to Leave, grossing $90.7k from three screens, and the film’s distributor Mubi will add 36 more screens next weekend. The next best average came from Till ($15k), which brought in $240k from 16 theaters. Tár's expansion to 36 locations brought in $360k for a $10k average, while Triangle of Sadness’ expansion to 31 theaters saw a gross of $337k for an average of $11k.