Universal Pictures’ “Halloween Ends” slashed through the competition this weekend at the domestic box office, opening to $41.3 million, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.
In second place this week was another horror title, Paramount Pictures’ “Smile,” which scared up $12.4 million in its third weekend for a North American cumulative of $71.2 million — solidifying the genre’s dominance at the spooky season box office. Rounding out the top three was Sony Pictures’ “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” which chomped $7.4 million in its sophomore weekend for a North American cumulative of $22.8 million.
Directed by David Gordon Green, the 13th and final installment (allegedly) in the “Halloween” franchise sees Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her iconic role as Laurie Strode for the scream queen’s last stand against masked serial killer Michael Myers. The slasher flick also stars Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell and Kyle Richards.
“Halloween Ends” received a lackluster 41% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a dismal C-plus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore. According to Universal, the scary movie was most popular among 18- to 34-year-olds, while 26% of moviegoers were 35 or older.
“By the time we get to the last act for the final, final denouement (really, it better be final), all of the energy has been sapped, and it feels like a compulsory trudge to the finish line,” writes film critic Katie Walsh for the Los Angeles Times.
“Perhaps that’s the point, that wrapping up this 40-year-plus franchise should be more funeral march than fun. But we come to these movies for the thrills, the chills, and the screams, yet even the kills in ‘Halloween Ends’ feel perfunctory at best. Perhaps it’s for the best that it ended this way, without leaving us bloodthirsty for more.”
The film’s domestic launch didn’t live up to projections or to that of its predecessor, “Halloween Kills” — which smashed the opening-weekend box office record for a pandemic horror release with $49.4 million last year. The first entry in the most recent “Halloween” trilogy debuted at $76.2 million in 2018.
It’s worth noting that some of the latest sequel’s opening-weekend gross was likely lost to Peacock, which began streaming “Halloween Ends” the day it hit theaters.
“Generally, a theatrical first model is best for the greatest shot at not only revenue generation, but the boost that the prestige and exclusivity of a movie theater exclusive run provides for any movie that has a window before hitting the small screen,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
Opening in wide release and looking to break the horror streak next weekend are Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise,” Paramount Pictures’ action movie “Need for Speed: No Limits” and Warner Bros.’ DC comics adaptation “Black Adam.”