Five Nights at Freddy’s is off to a historic start at the domestic box office, helping drive overall revenue.
The latest horror offering from Universal and Blumhouse opened to a record-smashing $78 million, despite debuting simultaneously on sister streaming service Peacock. It started off with a monstrous Friday haul of $39.5 million, including $10.3 million in Thursday previews.
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The pic — which came in notably ahead of industry expectations — scared up 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. 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 opened to an estimated $52.6 million from 60 markets for a global start of $130.6 million against a modest $25 million production budget. It supplants New Line’s The Nun II ($88.1 million) to boast the year’s biggest worldwide start for a horror film.
Freddy’s passed up Halloween, which started off with $76.2 million in 2018, to mark the biggest domestic opening ever for Blumhouse, not adjusted for inflation. It is also Blumhouse’s top global launch. Other honorable mentions: Freddy’s supplants The Mummy Returns ($68.1 million) to 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. 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 achieved another huge milestone in singing past the $200 million mark at the worldwide box office, a first for a concert film. It earned another $14.7 million domestically to finish its third weekend with a North American cume of $149.3 million and $203 million globally (the pic only plays Thursday to Sunday).
Martin Scorsese’s adult-skewing Killers of the Flower Moon came in third behind Freddy’s and Eras Tour with an estimated $9 million, a sharp decline of 61 percent. 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, but the producers had hoped for a smaller drop in the film’s second weekend.
Killers of the Flower Moon earned another $14.1 million from 64 markets overseas for a foreign tally of $44 million and $88.6 million globally.
Angel Studios opened its first release since its indie film Sound of Freedom took the summer box office by storm. Its new faith-based movie, After Death, took in $5 million to come in No. 4.
Blumhouse and Universal’s The Exorcist: The Believer, which is now available on Premium VOD after a disappointing showing at the box office, rounded out the top five in its fourth weekend. The movie grossed $3.1 million for a domestic total of $61 million and $120.4 million globally.
The specialty box office saw two high-profile Oscar hopefuls enter the fray: Focus Features’ The Holdovers and A24’s Priscilla. The two films opened in several locations both in New York and Los Angeles, with each reporting a promising per-location average in the $33,000 range.
The Holdovers grossed $200,000 from six locations for a per-theater average of $33,333. Priscilla, launching in four cinemas, earned $132,139 for a location average of $33,035.
Oct. 29, 8:10 a.m.: Updated with revised weekend estimates.
This story was originally published at 7:55 a.m. Saturday.
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