“Halloween Kills,” the horror sequel starring Jamie Lee Curtis, should slash its way to the top of box office charts when it opens in 3,700 North American theaters on Friday.
From Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions, the latest “Halloween” installment is projected to generate $35 million to $40 million in its first three days of release. That would be significantly less than its predecessor, 2018’s “Halloween,” made in its unexpectedly huge $77 million debut. The follow-up film, however, isn’t expected to replicate those results in part because “Halloween Kills” will premiere on Peacock, the NBCUniversal-owned streaming service, on the same day as its theatrical release, which could curb ticket sales. Also, we’re still in a pandemic.
For some COVID-era releases, a hybrid rollout on the big screen and on digital platforms has hindered the chance to turn a profit, at least in its theatrical run. In the case of “Halloween Kills,” that may not be as much of a concern. Since the slasher film cost just above $20 million to produce, a start around $40 million would put it on a prime path to profitability. And Peacock is relatively newer to the streaming space and has 54 million subscribers — significantly less than its rivals Netflix (209 million), Disney Plus (116 million) and HBO Max (67.5 million) — so it shouldn’t keep as many people staying home to watch. For the studio, the Peacock deal has helped mitigate any risk around a day-and-date debut.
“Halloween Kills” will be available on Peacock Premium at no extra cost to subscribers who already pay $4.99 or $10.99 per month for access to the service. Universal first deployed its day-and-date strategy earlier this year with “The Boss Baby: Family Business.” The studio didn’t report streaming metrics, but the film grossed $57 million at the domestic box office and $118 million worldwide, a fraction of 2017’s “Boss Baby” and its $527 million global total.
David Gordon Green returned to direct “Halloween Kills,” having driven its predecessor to positive reviews and box office glory. With $250 million globally, the 2018 movie “Halloween” became the highest-grossing installment in the 11-film franchise. The 12th entry has not been received as warmly by critics (it has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes), though reviews hardly matter to fans of the horror genre. For most slasher film aficionados, shameless jump scares and high body counts are well worth the price of a ticket.
“Halloween Kills” picks up after Laurie Strode (Curtis) believes to have killed her pesky nemesis Michael Myers in a fiery basement. But, the masked murderer is seemingly immortal and somehow frees himself to continue his ritual bloodbath on Halloween. Laurie rallies her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and the town of Haddonfield to rise up against Michael Myers once and for all. There’s already a sequel, “Halloween Ends,” scheduled for Oct. 14, 2022 so we can guess how that mission pans out.
“Halloween Kills” isn’t the only movie to open nationwide this weekend, though it will easily tower over fellow newcomer, Disney and 20th Century’s period drama “The Last Duel.” The long-delayed film is aiming to collect $10 million from 3,000 North American theaters, though some box office experts suggest box office receipts may not hit double digits. While that would be disappointing for a movie starring A-listers like Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising because “The Last Duel” falls in the genre that hasn’t been thriving at the box office. Older audiences should be the target audience for something like “The Last Duel,” but in general, moviegoers over the age of 45 have been most reluctant to return to their local multiplex. “The Last Duel” will also face competition from MGM’s James Bond sequel “No Time to Die,” which opened last weekend with $55 million and appeals to a similar demographic. The 007 adventure looks to bring in around $25 million in its second outing.
“The Last Duel” could have more resonance at the international box office. It debuts overseas in most major markets this weekend, where the movie is expected to bring in between $10 million to $15 million. The R-rated “The Last Duel,” which clocks in at two hours and 30 minutes, will need on positive reviews and glowing word-of-mouth to help it compete for ticket buyers in what is shaping up to be a busy fall season.
Directed by Ridley Scott, the film centers on actual events that took place in 14th century France and follows Marguerite de Carrouges (Comer), who claims to have been raped by her husband’s best friend and squire Jacques Le Gris (Driver). Her husband, knight Jean de Carrouges (Damon), defends his wife’s honor and challenges Jacques to a trial by combat, resulting in the last legally sanctioned duel in the country’s history. Heavy subject matter, indeed, but “The Last Duel” has been mostly well received by critics, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman calling it “a lavishly convoluted and, at times, rather interesting medieval soap opera.”
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