Universal and Blumhouse‘s Five Nights at Freddy’s is off to a historic start at the domestic box office.
The latest horror offering from Universal and Blumhouse is headed for a record-smashing $78 million opening after grossing a monstrous $39.5 million on Friday, including $10.3 million in Thursday previews. The pic — which is coming in notably ahead of industry expectations — is on course to claim the third-biggest horror opening of all time behind New Line’s two It movies, as well as the best showing ever for Halloween weekend among all films, even though it is debuting simultaneously on streaming service Peacock. It’s also the biggest horror opening of 2023 to date, besting Scream VI ($44.4 million), and the second-biggest opening of all time for a video-game adaptation behind The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($146.3 million), not adjusted for inflation.
The news is just as good overseas, where Five Nights at Freddy’s is on course to open to an estimated $52 million from 60 markets for a global start of $130 million against a modest $25 million. It supplants New Line’s The Nun II ($88.1 million) to boast the year’s biggest worldwide start for a horror film.
If these projections hold — some think the domestic number could even be $80 million — Freddy’s will pass up Halloween, which started with $76.2 million in 2018, to mark the biggest domestic opening ever for Blumhouse, not adjusted for inflation. It would also represent Blumhouse’s top worldwide launch.
Other honorable mentions: Freddy’s will supplant The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million) rank as the top opening ever for a horror pic rated PG-13, not adjusted for inflation.
While most critics bashed Freddy’s, the audience graced the movie with an A- CinemaScore (it is rare for a horror pic to receive an A or any variation thereof).
Universal insiders say the decision to do a day-and-date release is a win-win for the overall ecosystem (only paid-tier Peacock subscribers have access). Those who want the communal experience of watching a horror movie in a theater can do so, while Peacock can woo much-needed subscribers. (Apparently, streamers see notable growth in October because of Halloween-themed offerings.)
Before the pandemic, most theaters would have outright refused to book a title already available in the home. The COVID-19 crisis changed everything, however, with the traditional 72- to 90-day theatrical window shrinking dramatically to as little as three weeks for films that open to less than $50 million. Day-and-date releases aren’t the norm, but no cinema operator was going to refuse to play Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Directed by Emma Tammi, Freddy‘s stars Josh Hutcherson as a washed-up security guard who has no choice but to take a crappy job safeguarding a long-shuttered family-themed pizza restaurant. The only problem — the pizzeria’s giant animatronic animal characters spring to life and go on murderous rampages. He’s also trying to maintain sole custody of his 10-year-old sister (Piper Rubio) and prevent her from falling into the clutches of their Aunt Jane (Mary Stuart Masterson).
Things go from bad to worse when a group of local toughs hired by Jane break into Freddy’s while Mike is off-duty to trash the joint so he’ll lose his job. Needless to say, the giant animatronic animals don’t like the intrusion and try to exact their revenge.
Kat Conner Sterling and Matthew Lillard also star. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop created the animatronic characters.
Elsewhere, Taylor Swift and AMC Theatres’ Eras Tour, which only plays Thursday-Sunday, should cross the $150 million mark domestically by Sunday after earning an estimated $15 million for the weekend.
Martin Scorsese‘s adult-skewing Killers of the Flower Moon, now in its second weekend, is looking at a third-place finish behind Freddy’s and Eras Tour with an estimated $10 million (a 57 percent drop). Apple Original Films produced and financed the $200 million film, with Paramount handling distribution duties. The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro, is counting on being a slow burn as Oscar season unfolds.
More to come.
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