Weekend Forecast: ‘Halloween’ Tracking to Slash the Box Office with $70M+ Debut

October’s record run continues this weekend with one of the most anticipated horror films in years: Halloween.

Industry-wide traditional tracking has followed in line with our initial long range report two months ago, citing expectations of a debut north of $60 million. Our average models had increased to $65 million in recent weeks, with an eye toward outperforming that figure as the buzz wave has continued to build.

For example, Fandango reports that advance ticket sales for Halloween have already surpassed The Nun‘s total sales generated through Thursday before its opening. We bullishly think Venom‘s recent October record debut of $80.3 million could be within reach based on current momentum and an expectation of strong walk-up sales, with a ceiling perhaps approaching the nine-digit level — although that’s certainly on the more optimistic end of a widening forecast range. Conversely, Universal expects north of $50 million.

Ignoring the continuity of every sequel that followed John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 film gives this new installment a relatively blank slate for younger audiences not familiar with Michael Myers lore, but nostalgia from older fans is also a major driver in buzz as opening weekend approaches — due in part to the return of star Jamie Lee Curtis. Very positive reviews are adding to the hype, and opening less than two weeks before the haunted holiday itself makes for a perfect blend of synergy.

As if those factors aren’t enough, the horror genre has a proclivity for beating expectations at the box office in recent years — 2018 being no exception thanks to A Quiet Place and The Nun, each of which topped $50 million on opening weekend. They followed last fall’s It, which obliterated forecasts and records with its $123.4 million debut. The genre has benefited from strong appeal to young female audiences and consistent quality in the eyes of both critics and audiences, something that’s expected to be the case for the newest Halloween.

On the social media front, Boxoffice.com’s Twitter tracking has captured a level of conversation that far outpaces The Nun and Quiet Place before release and only trailed It by 14 percent in mentions on Tuesday. Meanwhile, our Trailer Impact research indicates 49 percent of surveyed audiences are “Definitely Interested” in the film compared to Nun‘s 40 percent at the same point before opening. Halloween‘s Average Positive Interest scored 76 percent versus Nun‘s 64 percent.

Genre Comps

For perspective, the all-time record for the slasher sub-genre is held by 2009’s reboot of Friday the 13th ($40.6 million). Adjusted for inflation, however, Scream 2 holds the crown with $65.6 million (adjusted for 2018 prices from 1997’s $32.9 million original figure).

Of course, It holds the R-rated horror record — but The Nun claimed second last month with its $53.8 million start. Prior to those films, no R-rated horror film had sold enough tickets to equal or exceed Scream 2‘s $65.6 million adjusted opening except for 1994’s Interview with the Vampire ($79.6 million adjusted / $36.4 million original) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula ($67.2 million adjusted / $30.5 million original) in 1992.

Within the Halloween franchise itself, 2007’s remake holds the non-adjusted title with $26.4 million, but 1998’s Halloween: H20 earned $31.5 million adjusted for inflation ($16.2 million originally). With everything seemingly firing on all cylinders, this Halloween is poised to blow past those figures with deep, iconic cultural roots and palpable excitement from both fans and mainstream audiences.

Holdovers

In what should be another tight race, Venom and A Star Is Born will be fighting for runner-up this weekend as First Man hopes to display early legs and Goosebumps 2 continues to serve as the primary family-friendly holiday title. Meanwhile, The Hate U Give expands into wide release at an estimated 2,300 locations as it looks to perform well just outside the top five on the heels of strong early word of mouth.

Top 10 vs. Last Year

Boxoffice estimates this weekend’s top ten films will generate around $160 million. That would represent a 109 percent increase from the same frame last year when Boo 2! A Madea Halloween was the only standout among five openers on a slow $76.4 million top ten weekend.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, October 21 % Change from Last Wknd
Halloween (2018) Universal $80,000,000 $80,000,000 NEW
A Star Is Born Warner Bros. $19,300,000 $126,400,000 -32%
Venom Sony / Columbia $18,900,000 $173,300,000 -46%
First Man Universal $10,300,000 $31,900,000 -36%
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Sony / Columbia $10,000,000 $28,800,000 -37%
The Hate U Give Fox $6,900,000 $10,000,000 +297%

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Alex Edghill contributed to this report

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