‘Halloween Ends’ Opens with Lower than Expected $41.2M at the BO!!

There’s about $10M missing from the current theatrical marketplace this weekend.

Projections for Universal/Blumhouse/Miramax/TrancasHalloween Ends were expected to come in around $55M and the 13th sequel in the franchise originally created by John Carpenter is settling at $41.2M after a $13M Saturday, off 36% from $20.4M Friday and previews. Clearly tracking didn’t account for the theatrical-day-and-date factor. Uni says the movie is the most watched film or series ever on the platform over a two-day period. Numbers weren’t provided, but note third party streaming analytics corp Samba TV measured Halloween Kills‘ Smart TV viewership over 30 days last year at 2.8M. Halloween Ends opening is also $8.2M less than Halloween Kills‘ $49.4M and that sequel opened at a time when there were more big films in the market.

Through reportedly still a profitable gross against the film’s $30M production cost (although note in these situations, Universal literally has to pay itself among internal departments — meaning Peacock pays for the streaming rights — go bend your heads on that accounting), as one razor sharp studio executive points out “It’s hard to underestimate the day-and-date factor”. Clearly, despite the fact that Peacock, on which Halloween Ends is also available, is in 15M paid subscriber homes (a low number next to the competition).

Uni’s theatrical distribution in its date execution and the studio’s marketing aren’t to blame here. Those departments didn’t do anything wrong. Also don’t point a finger at Paramount’s third awesome weekend for Smile (-33% with $12.4M; chances are genre fans are seeing both movies). I don’t even think Halloween Ends‘ C+ Cinemascore is a reason here (the lowest grade in the recent franchise subset trilogy from David Gordon Green). I’m hearing there were great viewership figures on Halloween Ends on Peacock, so some form of cannibalization of theatrical is taking effect.

Riddle me this, Jeff Shell: So you take a branded film, deflate its optics by making it day-and-date with a headlined lower box office number in exchange for financials, streaming viewership and subscriber numbers which can’t be immediately publicly disclosed? Or will be disclosed weeks from now? Or will never? Or will be leaked to the Wall Street Journal (remember Trolls World Tour near $100M puffy number according to sources)? And this is done at a time when the theatrical part of the business is starving and lacking product, and when Wall Street is falling out of love with streaming? It doesn’t matter that Halloween Ends is going to gross more than Barbarian or Don’t Worry Darling. Of course it will, it’s a franchise movie, duh. The point is money is being left on the table. A reminder that the equity players in Halloween Ends are Blumhouse, Trancas and Miramax, who were bought out whole for this experiment, and Uni is only getting a global distribution fee.

Essentially, if you think about it, by not going completely theatrical, there’s about $5M which isn’t going back to Universal this weekend in pure film rental (roughly 50% of the pic’s missing $10M). Possibly more will be lost as day-and-date movies have a big drop (Halloween Kills plummeted 71% in weekend 2 and that was on Peacock, too). Halloween Kills in regards to its $49.4M opening generated under a 2x leg-out factor with $92M. Whatever NBCUni makes in Peacock subscription fees is theirs to keep, not share with exhibition. Right now there’s a deal going on where you can get Peacock for $19.99 a year. So is NBCUni banking on more than 250,000 subscribers signing up? Will those subscribers stay? Whose your demo by having Halloween Ends go day and date? Older people? Because the 18-34 bunch drove most of Halloween Ends business at 65%. The conventional wisdom is that streaming subscribers who sign up off movies don’t stick; they stick around for the series. Halloween Ends is 2 1/2 stars on PostTrak, 64%. If business slows tonight due to word of mouth, it will also be impacted at the same time on the OTT service. Not exactly a win-win.

Furthermore, filmmakers and content creators don’t like theatrical day-and-date. So even if Halloween Ends is one of a few one-offs from Universal (and granted, the studio hasn’t been as big offenders as WarnerMedia), read the memo again, Shell: Content creators no gusta theatrical day and date. Christopher Landon, the director of Uni’s Freaky made clear his disdain yesterday as the studio mishandled his movie.

One thing to keep in mind when clocking viewership of Halloween Ends is how much was puffed by stolen password accounts, which happens on streaming. That 30-day viewership figure on Halloween Kills (2.8M) in terrestrial Smart TV homes last year was off greatly from the the 4.1M who watched Matt ReevesBatman in its first seven days on HBO Max after its 45-day theatrical run. When it comes to frosh streamers right now, it’s not about viewership, it’s about subscribers. A hard analysis of money gained versus money lost needs to be made clear here. What’s the worth in diluting a brand to prop a struggling streaming service?

Perhaps, Peacock, you just need to go build your own House of Dragon.

WarnerMedia wisely learned from the wrongs of practicing the upside-down economics of day-and-date, and NBCUni, I don’t know why you haven’t learned that yet. Streamers are on the precipice of embracing a theatrical window, for crying out loud with Netflix and its Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story experiment. As outgoing NATO President and CEO John Fithian declared at CinemaCon, “Simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it.”

NBCUniversal, get with the times.

*****

Other diagnostics on Halloween Ends: the third Green directed pic in the series has now matched its predecessor, Halloween Kills, in regards to its Rotten Tomatoes critical score at 39%. Audiences aren’t that far from disagreeing with reviewers at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. Big diversity turnout here at 33% Caucasian, 37% Latino and Hispanic, 19% Black, and 4% Asian and 7% Other. The movie exceeded in the South, South Central and Midwest with the top gross coming out of the Cinemark Tinseltown El Paso. Premium Large Format screen drove a third of ticket sales so far with Imax separately reporting $2.7M from 400 auditoriums.

In regards to Uni’s efforts in respecting a theatrical window, let the record show that Illumination Animation’s Minions: The Rise of Gru is now the highest grossing of all the Minions and Gru movies at domestic box office with $368.3M running total in weekend 16. That finally beats Despicable Me 2‘s $368M US/Canada gross.

On the limited side of the box office, United Artists Releasing’s Till grossed $96K on Friday at 16 theaters in five markets, another $83K on Saturday for a $241K first weekend and very solid $15K theater average. The Eon produced drama is hot out of the gate in word of mouth for awards season following its New York Film Festival world premiere standing at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and excellent audience scores at 92% positive, and an 85% definite recommend. Solid numbers I hear from the Chinonye Chukwu directed drama’s play in NYC, LA, Chicago, Washington DC and Atlanta with a great turnout at AMC Phipps Plaza in Atlanta.

Focus Features’ expansion of Tar from four to 36 theaters in 13 markets saw $120K on Friday, $130K on Saturday and $110K on Sunday, for a what is turning out to be a $360k second weekend or $10K a theater. Good numbers, I hear in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Toronto and Chicago.

NEON’s second weekend of Cannes Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness saw $336,5K at 31 theaters (+11), +57%, for a running total of $657K. Twelves markets in play with great ticket sales in Austin, Los Angeles, NYC and Denver.

Total ticket sales are at an estimated $79M, which is off 27% from the same weekend a year ago which grossed $108.9M. There were more big films in theaters back then, i.e. No Time to Die and Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

Sunday numbers fully updated:

1.) Halloween Ends (Uni) 3,901 theaters, Fri $20.2M, Sat $13M, Sun $7.8M, 3-day $41.2M/Wk 1

2.) Smile (Par) 3,612 theaters (-47), Fri $3.75M (-31%), Sat $5.35M Sun $3.3M $12.4M (-33%), 3-day $71.1M/Wk 3

3.) Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (Sony) 4,350 theaters, Fri $2M (-43%), Sat $3.25M, Sun $2.1M, 3-day $7.4M (-35%)/Total: $22.7M/Wk 2

4.) The Woman King (Sony) 2,565 (-777) theaters Fri $1M, Sat $1.68M, Sun $1M, 3-day $3.7M (-27%)/Total $59.7M/Wk 5

5.) Amsterdam (Dis) 3,005 theaters, Fri $888K (-66%), Sat $1.2M, Sun $803K 3-day $2.89M (-54%)/Total: $12M/Wk 2

6.) Don’t Worry Darling (NL/WB), 2,734 (-590) theaters, Fri $745K (-35%), Sat $930K, Sun $510K, 3-day $2.185M (-38%)/Total $42.4M/ Wk 4

7.) Barbarian (20th/Dis) 1,805 theaters (-355), Fri $406K (-35%) Sat $596K, Sun $409K, 3-day $1.4M (-33%)/Total $38.9M/Wk 6

8.) Bros (Uni) 2,201 theaters (-1,155), Fri $290K (-57%), Sat $380K, Sun $250K, 3-day $900K (-58%)/Total $10.8M/ Wk 3

9.) Terrifier 2 (Iconic) 700 theaters (-186), Fri $250K (-2%), Sat $425K, Sun $175K, 3-day $850K (+6), Total $2.2M/Wk 2
Talk about a window working for a low-budget horror film — this Iconic Releasing title from filmmaker Damien Leone climbed in weekend 2 over its $805K opening. The appeal for genre fans? Moviegoers are fainting and throwing up in theater. More fun in public than watching at home.

10.) Top Gun Maverick (Par) 902 (-225) theaters, Fri $200K (-11%), Sat $315K, Sun $170K, 3-day $685K (-15%), Total: $715.8M/Wk 21

 

via Deadline

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