Weekend Box Office Forecast: Scream Shows Cautious-But-Encouraging Signs as Spider-Man: No Way Home Paces to Reach Top 5 All-Time Domestically Over MLK Frame

Photo Credits: Paramount Pictures ("Scream (2022)"; Sony Pictures & Marvel Studios ("Spider-Man: No Way Home")
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Friday Update: Paramount reports today that Scream earned $3.5 million from Thursday’s domestic previews, which began at 7pm in around 3,000 locations.

By comparison, that registered 28 percent behind Halloween Kills ($4.85 million), 84 percent ahead of Candyman ($1.9 million), and 5 percent behind Glass ($3.7 million).

More updates to come throughout the weekend. Our original analysis and forecasts are below.

Original Report: After a slow start to January that relied on the great holding power of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Paramount is delivering 2022’s first major release with Scream over Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

The horror sequel represents the fifth installment of a franchise that reinvigorated the slasher genre during the late 1990s. Wes Craven’s original Scream was a slow-burner hit that became a watercooler moment for horror back in 1996, opening to a modest $6.35 million December weekend at 1,413 domestic theaters before legging out to over $103 million by the end of its North American run.

Scream 2 and Scream 3 built on that success with $33 million and $34.7 million openings in 1997 and 2000 before finishing with $101.4 million and $89.1 million, respectively — cementing the trilogy as one of the most successful and influential horror franchises in history.

Unfortunately, 2011’s Scream 4 didn’t quite rekindle the same magic when it bowed to $18.7 million and finished with $38.2 million domestically, though its $97 million global haul on an estimated $40 million production budget still likely helped it reach break-even in cinemas. Its release came at a time when audience tastes for horror were evolving as supernatural tales came to the forefront, in large part thanks to 2009’s sleeper break out Paranormal Activity and many others of that ilk.

Concurrently, the decade-long wait for another sequel was either too late or too short, depending on one’s point of view. 1980s nostalgia was barely nascent during the early part of the 2010s, and certainly a far cry from the 1990s nostalgia that is now achieving its pop culture moment in the early 2020s.

The latter point is precisely why this new Scream may be well timed, more so than it’s been given credit for in early forecasts. Despite the franchise leaving off on a poor note eleven years ago (Scream 4 claims just a 56 percent Rotten Tomatoes audience score), the broader horror genre has achieved a new golden age in the time since — and slashers have started making their comeback in the process.

Look to none other than 2018’s Halloween and its 2021 follow-up, Halloween Kills, as examples of the success this Scream hopes to capture a bit of. With a returning original cast, fresh young faces, and a fair dose of nostalgia, 2022’s Scream bears more than a few similarities to the 2018 Michael Myers revival.

Reviews are largely positive as well, standing at 76 percent from 93 critics as of Thursday morning. Grading on a curve, that’s a very positive result for the horror genre and slasher films in particular. Early indicators suggest the film will play very well with an audience, but the days ahead will tell that story.

Of course, the pandemic remains a cause for hesitation. Scream‘s target audience is somewhat diverse with appeal to the 35+ crowd who drove the success of the original movies, and it could also stand out among today’s younger viewers due to the aforementioned horror boom (which are often driven by older teens and 20-somethings) and the dearth of new releases to hit theaters since the end of December.

Theatrical exclusivity is key as well, with Paramount releasing the film only in cinemas this weekend. An R rating will prevent some of the teen audience from buying a ticket, but the 17-34 demographic will be key to determining how far above expectations Scream can perform at the box office.

The original films appealed strongly to young women at the time, a segment of today’s moviegoing audience (women over 35) that after two decades now represents the most cautious to return to cinemas due to the pandemic. That’ll be an intriguing dynamic to follow this weekend after the initial fan rush on Thursday night and Friday.

Still, social media buzz and ticket sales are very encouraging. Scream‘s social footprint is only behind that of Halloween Kills in terms of pandemic-era horror release, although the more common word title makes search strings more challenging than Kills‘ full namesake to some extent. Pre-sales began strong, outpacing Kills itself at one point earlier this month, although some slowdown has been observed in recent days relative to the Halloween sequel’s late stage pace.

The latter development underscores some reason for caution heading into the weekend and a dependency on young moviegoers to spur last-minute pre-sales and walk-up business over the holiday frame. Forecast models have been overturned more than once during recent months, with notably fan- and/or adult-heavy franchise pics hitting a wall in the days before release.

As possible as it is for this film to spread its wings an include a younger audience than conservative models predict, it’s also very realistic to brace for significant front-loading on a nostalgic horror revival sequel.

Whether or not that’s the case with Scream will soon be known, and it’ll provide another indication of not just where the franchise and 90s horror nostalgia stand with modern moviegoers, but also our first sign as to how moviegoing is faring during the peak of the Omicron variant since the market onslaught of Spider-Man and holiday’s numerous openers.

Paramount expects a four-day opening weekend in the mid-$20 million range. Previews begin at 7pm Thursday.

Speaking of your friendly neighborhood web-crawler, the No Way Home juggernaut continues to march past historic benchmarks heading into its fifth frame. The film stood at $675.8 million domestically through Wednesday, representing the sixth highest domestic gross of all time after surpassing Titanic ($659.4 million) and Jurassic World ($652.4 million) last weekend.

With schools out of session this coming Monday, a retention of IMAX screens, and continued all-audience appeal with strong word of mouth, another solid hold should be in store after it eased 41.8 percent last weekend. No Way Home will surpass Avengers: Infinity War‘s lifetime $678.8 million haul sometime on Friday, lifting it into the record book’s top five across North America.

From there, Black Panther is Spidey’s next goal. That fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe phenom finished its 2018 run with $700.4 million stateside, a number which No Way Home has a fair shot to reach by the end of the four-day MLK weekend.

Not to be forgotten this weekend is the release of GKIDS’s Belle in over 1,300 theaters domestically. The anime release held exclusive IMAX previews on Wednesday before Thursday previews and a full weekend launch. Its theatrical run includes both the original Japanese and an English dub while reviews and audience reception are quite strong.

Given the relative lack of data points for this type of specialty release during the current stage of the pandemic , we aren’t currently offering up specific forecasts for the film. However, the release does boast a respectable seventh place ranking among the coming weekend’s top films by total showtimes in the domestic market. A top ten finish at the weekend box office is likely.

Last but not least, although the film opened more than three months ago and is now available across various at-home on-demand platforms, Venom: Let There Be Carnage will expand into nationwide release again at 1,435 locations this weekend. It is also excluded from our forecasts below.

Wide Release Forecast Ranges

Scream (2022)
3-Day Opening Weekend Range: $25 – 35 million
4-Day Opening Weekend Range: $28 – 39 million

Weekend Forecast

Boxoffice projects between a 6 to 16 percent increase for this weekend’s top ten films (3-day) from last weekend’s $60.3 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast 4-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Monday, January 17 Location Count 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Scream (2022) Paramount Pictures $29,800,000 $33,700,000 $33,700,000 3,664 NEW
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia & Marvel Studios $19,900,000 $24,900,000 $702,800,000 3,925 -39%
Sing 2 Universal Pictures $8,700,000 $11,700,000 $122,700,000 3,581 -25%
The 355 Universal Pictures $2,000,000 $2,300,000 $8,400,000 3,145 -57%
The King’s Man Disney / 20th Century Studios $1,900,000 $2,300,000 $28,700,000 2,510 -41%
American Underdog Lionsgate / Kingdom Story Company $1,700,000 $2,000,000 $21,500,000 2,394 -27%
West Side Story (2021) Disney / 20th Century Studios $1,100,000 $1,400,000 $34,200,000 1,460 -20%
The Matrix Resurrections Warner Bros. Pictures $925,000 $1,100,000 $36,100,000 1,725 -50%
Licorice Pizza United Artists Releasing $800,000 $1,000,000 $9,700,000 772 -19%
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Sony Pictures / Columbia $725,000 $900,000 $126,300,000 1,202 -35%

All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

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