Weekend Box Office Forecast: Will Come Play Dethrone Honest Thief for a First Place Halloween Debut?

Photo Credits: Open Road ("Honest Thief"); Disney / 20th Century Studios / Anastas N. Michos ("The Empty Man"); Disney / Pixar ("Monsters, Inc."); 101 Studios ("The War with Grandpa"); Warner Bros. ("Tenet"); Focus Features ("Come Play")

The domestic market is grinding through what’s long been evident to become a slow portion of the theatrical reopening phase ever since major studios fled the fall season, delaying their tentpoles due to the effects of the pandemic.

As October comes to a close, only one new film is heading into wide release this weekend: Focus Features’ Come Play.

The PG-13 horror thriller is ideally timed for Halloween weekend with the holiday landing on a Saturday this year. Boasting a short 96-minute run time, the film’s accessibility is a strength as it aims to draw fans of the genre at the peak of spooky season.

Come Play‘s marketing footprint has been respectable for a non-major studio release (although Focus is parented by Universal). Social media metrics are modest, but the film has generated over 8 million views from its official trailer page on YouTube since debuting in late August. Current models suggest it should outperform fellow genre pic The Empty Man, which bowed to lukewarm results ($1.31 million) last weekend after essentially zero promotion from Disney and 20th Century Studios.

The film Come Play hopes to unseat from first place is Open Road’s Honest Thief, which has reigned in its first two weekends. The Liam Neeson thriller eased just 35 percent in its sophomore frame with $2.35 million last weekend, showcasing its positive word of mouth and the continued trend of films to behave in less front-loaded fashion during the pandemic.

As the top five goes, it’s safe to expect more strong holds with minimal competition entering the marketplace. The War with Grandpa fell just 24 percent in its third frame one week ago and should again be the leading option for families, while Christopher Nolan’s Tenet should help fill out the top five with another soft drop in its 9th frame (likely coming in north of Empty Man‘s sophomore earnings).

Factoring into the equation for most films will also be the positive development of AMC and Cinemark reopening select theaters in Northern California’s San Francisco Bay Area. Those restarts begin this Friday, October 30 and could further pad the grosses of films known to play well in those markets (such as Tenet).

Re-Releases Remain Prominent

After last weekend saw five of the top ten spots at the box office represented by studio reissues, the latest newcomer to that crop will be the return of Alita: Battle Angel. The big screen adaptation originally generated a fair $85.7 million domestic run in early 2019, part of a stronger $404.9 million global haul. Disney is pushing the 20th Century Studios film back into an estimated 1,060 domestic locations this weekend.

Also getting a semi-wide footprint this weekend is John Carpenter’s original Halloween. The classic 1978 horror film will be in an estimated 781 North American locations, according to distributors Spotlight Cinema Networks and Cinelife Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Monsters, Inc. could enjoy boosts with the Halloween factor in play. According to The Boxoffice Company’s Showtimes Dashboard, the latter two films are losing an estimated 52 percent and 56 percent, respectively, of their showtimes, while Hocus is tracking to lose a softer 33 percent share.

The last time Halloween fell on a Saturday was in 2015. At the time, The Martian was the reigning film at the box office in its fifth frame of release, while Goosebumps and Hotel Transylvania 2 each posted soft drops (36 percent and 34 percent, respectively) while generating major Friday business bumps and flat-to-slight increases on Saturday and Sunday. Similar results could be expected for the aforementioned family-friendly reissues in play this year.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, November 1 % Change from Last Wknd
Come Play Focus Features $2,900,000 $2,900,000 NEW
Honest Thief Open Road $1,600,000 $9,800,000 -32%
The War with Grandpa 101 Studios $1,350,000 $11,500,000 -29%
Tenet Warner Bros. $1,000,000 $54,000,000 -23%
The Empty Man Disney / 20th Century Studios $730,000 $2,400,000 -44%
Hocus Pocus (Re-Issue) Disney $390,000 $4,870,000 -26%
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Re-Issue) Disney / Touchstone Pictures $370,000 $2,400,000 -36%
Halloween (1978) (Re-Issue) Spotlight Cinema Networks $300,000 n/a n/a
Alita: Battle Angel (Re-Issue) Disney / 20th Century Studios $275,000 $275,000 NEW
Monsters, Inc. (Re-Issue) Disney / Pixar $270,000 $855,000 -45%

All forecasts subject to change before the first confirmation of weekend estimates from studios or alternative sources.

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Photo Credits: Open Road ("Honest Thief"); Disney / 20th Century Studios / Anastas N. Michos ("The Empty Man"); Disney / Pixar ("Monsters, Inc."); 101 Studios ("The War with Grandpa"); Warner Bros. ("Tenet"); Focus Features ("Come Play")