After numerous COVID-related delays, the R-rated slasher film, based on the urban legend of a killer who is summoned by those daring to repeat his name five times into a mirror, opens Friday in more than 3,400 North American theaters. It’s poised to collect roughly $15 million in ticket sales, which would be a relatively promising start given the currently compromised state of moviegoing. As the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, studies have indicated people have been more hesitant to visit their local multiplex.
However, the Nia DaCosta-directed “Candyman” could end up being a big draw (by pandemic standards) because it has been well reviewed and caters to younger males, a demographic that has proven to be more willing to watch movies on the big screen amid the global health crisis. The $25 million-budgeted film, produced by MGM and Jordan Peele’s company MonkeyPaw, is playing only in theaters, another factor that could boost ticket sales. In recent months, conventional wisdom has been that new movies made available on streaming platforms on the same day as their theatrical debuts, such as Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” or Warner Bros. “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” have suffered steep second-weekend declines compared to theatrical-only offerings like the Ryan Reynolds sci-fi comedy “Free Guy” and “F9: The Fast Saga.”
DaCosta has been a champion of the big screen, fighting to delay the movie and keep it in theaters rather than seeing it moved to premium video-on-demand platforms, a fate that many films faced while cinemas were shuttered. Universal Pictures is handling distribution and marketing, while MGM, in addition to producing, fully financed “Candyman.”
“We made ‘Candyman’ to be seen in theaters,” DaCosta wrote last year on Twitter. “Not just for the spectacle but because the film is about community and stories — how they shape each other, how they shape us. It’s about the collective experience of trauma and joy, suffering and triumph, and the stories we tell around it.”
“Candyman” is the only new movie to open nationwide this weekend and should have no trouble claiming the top spot on domestic box office charts. Written by Peele, the contemporary movie serves as a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 slasher movie by Bernard Rose. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II leads the cast as a struggling artist in Chicago who begins to lose his sanity after discovering the story of Candyman and summoning the ghastly killer. The cast also includes Teyonah Parris (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Colman Domingo (“Zola,” “Euphoria”).