‘Halloween Kills’ Slashes Its Way To The Top Spot With $50.4 Million Bow; Damon And Affleck’s ‘The Last Duel’ Is A Dud
With just two weeks to go before trick-or-treaters head out on their annual holiday rounds, the latest chapter in the Michael Myers horror cycle, Halloween Kills, slayed the competition with a bloody good $50.4 million debut. The bogeyman’s box-office bow was especially impressive considering that the film was also available via VOD on the Peacock streamer and was going up against such splashy competitors as James Bond, Venom, and the long-awaited reunion of Good Will Hunting’s Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, whose historical drama The Last Duel was dead on arrival with a woeful $4.8 million opening.

In what can only be regarded as a hopeful sign for this fall’s box-office prospects, Universal’s Halloween Kills topped a theatrical slate that surpassed $100 million in total receipts for the third weekend in a row—the first time that feat has been accomplished in the past 18 months, when the COVID pandemic crippled the movie business. A sequel to 2018’s franchise-refresh Halloween, the latest chapter which once again stars the legendary scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, scored the highest-grossing opening weekend for a day-and-date premiere (meaning a simultaneous release in multiplexes and on streaming), besting Godzilla vs. Kong ’s $31.6 million opening back in March.

The R-rated Halloween Kills is the twelfth film in the hit-and-miss Michael Myers saga that began back in 1978. But the franchise showed new life by racking up a $13,589 per-screen average in 3,705 theaters. Its $50.4 million haul didn’t quite match its 2018 predecessor’s $76.2 million domestic debut, but it still has to be considered a bona fide smash, especially since it failed to win over critics (who gave it a 39% green splat on Rotten Tomatoes) and, to a lesser extent, audiences, who gave the ultraviolent sequel a ‘B-‘ CinemaScore grade. The sequel padded its impressive total with a relatively meager $5.5 million from overseas, bringing its one-week worldwide gross to $55.9. For comparison, 2018’s Halloween ended its theatrical run with $255 million in global ticket sales.

Finishing in the runner-up spot was MGM’s latest 007 chapter, No Time to Die, which pulled in $24.3 million in its sophomore frame. Originally slated to hit theaters back in April 2020, the eagerly-awaited Bond sequel, pitting Daniel Craig’s bruised-knuckle MI6 agent against Rami Malek’s supervillain, underwhelmed in its debut session last weekend with a $56 million opening. In week two, the PG-13-rated action-adventure dropped off -56% (roughly on track with previous Bond entries), earning a $5,513 per-screen average in 4,407 theaters. Its domestic box-office total after two weeks now stands at $99.5 million. However, the latest Bond continues to pull in virile numbers overseas, where it has raked in $348.3 million so far. Its worldwide cumulative gross is currently $447.8 million—and that does not include the 007-friendly market of China, where No Time to Die is scheduled to open on October 29.

In third place was Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The PG-13-rated supervillain sequel starring Tom Hardy, slid -48% from the previous weekend, earning $16.5 million in North America. Unspooling in 4,013 theaters, Venom 2 scored a $4,111 per-screen average in its third session, putting its three-week domestic tally at $168.1 million. The film has tacked on another $115.6 million in foreign ticket sales, bringing its global box-office total to $283.7 million.

In fourth was United Artists’ animated sequelThe Addams Family 2, which tacked on $7.2 million in its third weekend. The PG-rated follow-up to The Addams Family (which ended up grossing $100.7 million domestically in 2019), features the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Chloe Grace Moretz and is also available on premium VOD for $19.99. Falling a mere -28.9% from the previous frame, The Addams Family 2 played in 3,607 locations and nabbed a $1,994 per-screen average. Its three-week cume at the North American box office now stands at $42.3 million. It has earned $16.2 million overseas, putting its current worldwide gross at $58.5 million.

Rounding out the Top 5 was the weekend’s biggest disappointment, 20th Century Fox’s The Last Duel. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Adam Driver and Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer in addition to Damon and Affleck, the R-rated action-drama hobbled away from its opening weekend with just $4.8 million in North American ticket sales. The film eked out a $1,572 per-screen average in 3,065 theaters and added just $4.2 million from overseas, bringing its first-week global cume to $9 million. The medieval epic with a price tag somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million couldn’t even point the finger at cannibalization from streaming since it was only available in theaters. Like No Time to Die—albeit to much gloomier degree—The Last Duel no doubt suffered from the fact that its target demographic was older viewers, who remain more skittish about returning to theaters than younger audiences (in fact, 51% of the film’s opening weekend ticket buyers were over 35). Rating a respectable 86% fresh with critics on Rotten Tomatoes and snagging a ‘B+’ CinemaScore grade, the film played well with the few folks who paid to see it…the problem was there just weren’t enough of them. `