‘Halloween Kills’ To Slash The Competition; ‘The Last Duel’ To Duel It Out Against Holdovers
No Time To Die may not have broken records last weekend, but the overall weekend box office did: It was the first time since the pandemic began that we had two weekends in a row with a total gross exceeding $100 million, which until this month only two weekends had accomplished. This weekend we might see that happen for a third week in a row with the releases of Universal’s Halloween Kills, the latest entry in the long running slasher franchise, and 20th Century’s The Last Duel, the latest historical epic from Ridley Scott. While we saw some big grosses from individual films over the summer, we’re finally starting to see a steady slate of films that audiences are showing up for and solid numbers from the market as a whole.

Halloween Kills, which is opening on 3,600 screens, is the likely number one for the weekend. The 12th film in the Halloween franchise is a continuation of 2018’s Halloween, which was produced by Blumhouse and rebooted the series, acting as a direct sequel to the original John Carpenter directed 1978 classic and disregarding the continuity of its many sequels. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode as she faces off against the masked menace Michael Myers, and also returning is Halloween director David Gordon Green. His reinvention of the franchise took it to new box office heights, making $255 million worldwide, which is about 40% of the total gross of the entire series.

2018's Halloween opened to $76.2 million domestically, more than any of the other films in the series have made in their entire domestic runs, and not far behind the 2007 Halloween’s worldwide run of $80.5 million, previously the series’ best. 2018's Halloween had a total domestic gross of $159 million, which was $101 million ahead of Halloween (2007), and it was also the first Halloween film to have a strong international showing with $96.1 million, more than four times the $22.2 million earned abroad from the Halloween of 2007.

David Gordon Green’s Halloween also was the best reviewed film in the series since the original, scoring 79% on the Tomatometer, making it one of the few films in the series to go above 50%. Halloween Kills looks like it isn’t living up to its predecessor, but at 46% on Rotten Tomatoes it is still the fourth best reviewed film in the series. We are likely to see a similar trend in the box office, under-performing the previous film but still giving a strong showing compared to the rest of the series and to its budget (2018’s Halloween cost $10-15 million). The film’s availability on Universal’s streaming service Peacock may impact the gross, but fans have turned out for their favorite franchises this year whether or not the films were theatrical exclusive. Even half of the previous film’s opening would put it above many of this year’s blockbuster hopefuls, so it is hard to imagine a box office performance that would make anyone change their minds about making the sequel Halloween Ends, which is scheduled to hit theaters in October 2022.

No Time To Die is likely to end up in second place, with The Last Duel dueling it out with Venom: Let There Be Carnage over third place. The Last Duel brings director Ridley Scott back to the historical epic genre (not to mention movies about duels; his debut film was The Duelists), and it also brings back the talents of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as a writing team, marking the first time they share a screenwriting credit since Good Will Hunting. The film takes place in 14th century France and stars Adam Driver and Jodie Comer (who recently co-starred in Free Guy) in addition to Damon and a supporting role from Affleck.

Scott’s post-Gladiator historical films have all under-performed compared to the Oscar-winning smash (which remains his most successful film to take place on Earth), but they also all had mixed critical receptions. The positive reviews of The Last Duel (88% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the high wattage cast may help the film’s prospects, and domestic traffic for the film on IMDb is surprisingly comparable to recent blockbusters, but the current box-office climate is untested for more serious, adult-targeted films. The Last Duel opens day-and-date in most of the world, and the film’s box office success may be determined overseas where Scott typically gets a warmer reception, especially when it comes to his historical films. Kingdom of Heaven was a disappointment in the U.S., grossing only $47.4 million, but it picked up an additional $171 million abroad. Robin Hood similarly was a much bigger hit internationally ($105 million domestic vs. $216 million international), as was Scott’s biblical epic Exodus ($65 million vs. $203 million).

Bergman Island from IFC opens in limited release. Directed by film festival favorite Mia Hansen-Løve, the film played in competition at Cannes and stars Mia Wasikowska, Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth, and Anders Danielsen Lie.