Weekend Box Office Forecast: Will the Finale Factor Help Halloween Ends Best Predecessor’s Hybrid Opening One Year Ago?

Photo Credits: Universal ("Halloween Ends")

Friday Update: Universal reports that Halloween Ends scored $5.4 million from domestic previews beginning at 5pm on Thursday. The film screened at 3,200 locations and expands to 3,901 on Friday.

Ends clocked in 11.3 percent ahead of Halloween Kills‘ $4.85 million domestic previews on year ago, which started at 7pm Thursday. Overall, last night’s results are in line with expectations going into this weekend. Full analysis and forecasts from Wednesday are below.

Wednesday Report: What’s become an almost-tradition for October for the past four years comes to a finish beginning this weekend with Halloween Ends promising to tie up the modern Michael Myers and Laurie Strode trilogy. Jamie Lee Curtis returns again to, presumably, close out her most famous character’s arc.

Just one year ago, Halloween Kills scored a strong $49.4 million domestic weekend debut, generally in line with expectations despite a simultaneous streaming release on Peacock. Universal and Blumhouse are going down that exact same path again this year with Ends, which wraps up the story set out by John Carpenter’s original 1978 film and the 2018 revival sequel. The latter film scored $76.2 million four Octobers ago, the third best R-rated horror bow in history, behind only the two It films.

Ends is not quite tracking at those levels, but it’s still going to present a significant boost for theaters with what will easily mark the best opening weekend by a film since July’s Nope ($44.4 million). The finale factor is expected to be in play with marketing putting an emphasis on the closure this film supposedly will bring to the franchise’s iconic characters.

If anything might hold Ends back, it will be the state of the franchise’s goodwill. Kills divided viewers one year ago far more than its 2018 lead-in, seeing critics go from 79 to 39 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

The audience score didn’t drop as precipitously — 71 to 66 percent — but box office holding power was weaker. Kills posted a 1.86x multiple from opening weekend domestically, down from Halloween (2018)‘s 2.09x. In overall dollars, Kills‘ opening was down over 35 percent and its final domestic haul ($92 million) slid over 42 percent from the 2018 chapter ($159.3 million).

With respect to forecast considerations, Ends‘ review embargo had yet to drop at the time of this writing. Reception from critics and early audience turnout alike may ultimately be important pieces of the puzzle given the at-home viewing option available to those who may be on the fence about this latest sequel.

Halloween Ends‘ universe of tracking began somewhat cautiously as summer wound down, with poor reception from Kills expected to impact demand for another film. Marketing has seemingly been effective, though, in capitalizing on the aforementioned finale factor.

Demographically, women between the ages of 17 and 34 are standing out on the interest scale. For comparison, Kills drew 52 percent men and 56 percent over the age of 25 last year. The 2018 pic drew 53 percent male and 59 percent over 25.

As social metrics and pre-sales go, trends are moving more in line with those of Kills one year ago than cautious tracking ranges initially indicated. Part of that is attributable to a higher expected average ticket price as Ends has a full footprint in IMAX and other premium formats. Kills did not that full spread, particularly lacking a major IMAX presence.

That boost will come in addition to an estimated average ticket price increase of 4 percent for October 2022 versus October 2021, and audience comfort levels are obviously higher today than they were this time last year in between headline-grabbing COVID-19 variants.

Another element to watch for: the holding power of Paramount’s Smile. Down just a stellar 18.3 percent in its second frame, the sleeper hit should remain a force to be reckoned with among horror fans and general audiences alike. Word of mouth is spreading like wildfire, and while it will take an initial hit from the buzzsaw of Ends‘s upfront demand and takeover of premium screens, Smile should stabilize relatively quickly again after this weekend.

Universal will release Halloween Ends at an approximate 3,800 domestic theaters this weekend with previews beginning at56pm (two hours earlier than Kills started twelve months ago). As noted, the film will release simultaneously for free to stream on Peacock beginning this Friday. The studio expects a debut in the low-to-mid $50 million tier.

Weekend Ranges

Halloween Ends
Opening Range: $42 – 55 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 32 to 57 percent increase from last weekend’s $53.7 million top ten aggregate.

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, October 16 Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Halloween Ends Universal Pictures $49,500,000 $49,500,000 ~3,800 NEW
Smile Paramount Pictures $10,000,000 $67,700,000 ~3,700 -46%
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Sony / Columbia Pictures $6,800,000 $22,200,000 ~4,350 -40%
The Woman King Sony Pictures $4,000,000 $60,400,000 ~2,700 -23%
Amsterdam Disney / 20th Century Studios $3,100,000 $12,200,000 ~3,000 -52%
Don’t Worry Darling Warner Bros. Pictures $1,900,000 $42,100,000 ~2,800 -46%
Bros Universal Pictures $1,400,000 $11,200,000 ~2,700 -35%
Barbarian 20th Century Studios (Disney) $1,200,000 $38,700,000 ~1,900 -45%
Top Gun: Maverick Paramount Pictures $600,000 $715,600,000 ~1,000 -25%
Minions: The Rise of Gru Universal / Illumination $500,000 $368,400,000 ~1,400 -6%

*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.

Photo Credits: Universal ("Halloween Ends")

News Stories