Moviegoers are feeling in the Halloween spirit.
Universal and Blumhouse’s horror pic Five Nights at Freddy‘s will have no trouble bumping Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour from the top spot at the domestic box office and winning the Oct. 27-Oct. 29 weekend.
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Five Nights is tracking to open to at least $45 million to $50 million domestically, a huge sum considering the movie is being released simultaneously on Universal’s sister streaming service, Peacock (only paid-tier subscribers will have access).
Universal insiders say the decision to do a day-and-date release is a win-win for the overall ecosystem. 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, as many of the major studios focused on growing their streaming services by offering original films that were also in theaters.
Directed by Emma Tammi, Freddy’s stars Josh Hutcherson as 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 (Mary Stuart Masterson).
Things go from bad to worse when a group of local toughs hired by Aunt 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.
“There has been perhaps no other category of film that has enjoyed the cinematic history, enduring popularity and box office consistency as the horror genre and this weekend will continue the tradition with Five Nights At Freddy’s set to scare up one of the best, if not the best horror debut of 2023,” say box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Swift’s Eras Tour heads into its third weekend of play after amassing more than $180 million in worldwide ticket sales. Distributed by AMC Theatres, the movie has smashed a number of records, including becoming the top-grossing concert film of all time in North America within only a few short days.
Eras Tour, which only plays Thursday-Sunday, has grossed $132 million domestically and $46.8 million overseas. The movie is tipped to earn another $12 million to $15 million.
Martin Scorsese’s adult-skewing Killers of the Flower Moon hopes to enjoy a strong hold in its second weekend after opening to $23.2 million domestically. The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro, should pull in $12 million.
It’s been rocky times for the box office, and it could stay that way for the rest of the year if a blockbuster doesn’t emerge similar to this summer’s Barbie or Oppenheimer. On Thursday, tracking services came with their opening weekend estimates for Lionsgate’s reboot The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which opens in North America Nov. 17. One major service shows the prequel opening in the $50 million range.
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