Box Office Report: Thanks to 'Happy Death Day,' Halloween Comes Early

Box Office Report: Thanks to 'Happy Death Day,' Halloween Comes Early

Oct 16, 2017

Happy Death DayHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Happy Death Day - $26.5 million ($26.5 million total)

2. Blade Runner 2049 - $15.1 million ($60.4 million total)

3. The Foreigner - $12.8 million ($12.8 million total)

4. It - $6.9 million ($314.9 million total)

5. The Mountain Between Us - $5.6 million ($20.5 million total)

6. American Made - $5.4 million ($40.1 million total)

7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle - $5.3 million ($89.6 million total)

8. The Lego Ninjago Movie - $4.3 million ($51.5 million total)

9. My Little Pony - $4.0 million ($15.5 million total)

10. Victoria & Abdul - $3.1 million ($11.3 million total)

 

The Big Stories

It’s Halloween month, the time when eight of the best 25 openings belong to either the Paranormal Activity films or spinoffs from the universe of James Wan. The reboot of Saw is coming just in time for Trick or Treat in a couple weeks, but horror fans have been given an appetizer. The second Groundhog Day-inspired film of 2017 (after Before I Fall), only this one has murder rather than an auto accident, Happy Death Day may not have opened high enough to make the Top 25 openings of October, but given the appetizer of a budget it was made for by the Blumhouse team, it is already another hit for them and Universal.

 

“I’m A God, Not THE God.”

Unlike Blade Runner 2049 last week, tracking companies and “experts” underestimated the potential of a clever premise, an October opening and a PG-13 rating. The early forecasts for Happy Death Day predicted $15-20 million. Then by early Friday evening, the suggestion was a $22 million opening. By Sunday the estimates were up to $26 million. That is good enough for the 10th best opening for Blumhouse Productions, just nudging out M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit ($25.4 million). This is the company responsible for those Paranormal Activity films, which occupy three of their top 10 slots. The Purge films take up another three. Then you have Insidious: Chapter 2 and two of this year’s biggest successes in Split and Get Out.

At only a $4.8 million budget, Happy Death Day is basically guaranteed to be in profit, which is another happy mark on Universal’s 2017. If American Made can muscle up another $40-50 million somewhere, that will make four hits in a row since the failure of The Mummy. For producer Jason Blum, it marks the fifth film in a row to register in the positive at Rotten Tomatoes. Happy Death Day (68%) joins Get Out (99%), Split (74%), Ouija: Origin of Evil (82%) and Ti West’s too-little-seen Western In the Valley of Violence (76%) with Ethan Hawke and John Travolta. Blum only put those first three in enough theaters to give them a chance. Given current response to Happy Death Day outside of critics, if we look at similar horror films in October its prospects for repeat business and word-of-mouth may not be great. On the other hand, most of its comparable films are sequels, making the average multiple a mere 2.23. That would put Happy Death Day’s first estimate at around $58 million. That's in no way a bad return on investment from $4.8 million and the cost of P&A.

 

Tales of the Top Ten

Blade Runner 2049 took a 58% dip in its second weekend. It is slightly ahead of the pace of this summer’s The Mummy and even moreso than Alien: Covenant, but still only on the path to do between $80-85 million domestic. As much as we don’t want to think of that as a financial disaster, with a final domestic take like that it is, conservatively, going to need another $360 million overseas on top of the $49 million it has made right now to break even. It’s going to need (again, conservatively) at least another $179 million going forward to keep it out of the $100 million-writeoff category for the Warner Bros. Not sure the forthcoming Geostorm and its $81 million budget is going to provide any relief either, with The Lego Ninjago Movie still south of $100 million worldwide. Currently, all those It profits can be waved bye-bye if Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t pick up internationally.

Jackie Chan is back in The Foreigner, his first wide American release in the flesh since 2010’s The Karate Kid. Reviews are mixed on the film (56%) and the $12 million opening is also pretty average; higher than his first American comeback, Rumble in the Bronx ($9.8 million) and The Spy Next Door ($9.7 million), his last true solo American vehicle, but lower than the Shanghai films and The Tuxedo ($15 million). Its multiple prospects are a bit better than Happy Death Day’s as October films surrounding The Foreigner’s numbers provide an average multiple of 3.43, which would put its initial estimate at $41 million, though that might be a little high given it's likely to drop at least four slots on the chart just next week. It has made an additional $88 million overseas.

Fox’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle will try to limp itself to $100 million in the U.S., but more importantly it only needs about $45 million overall to reach profit territory. If it does, that streak of two (thanks to War for the Planet of the Apes finally reaching the black) seems destined to be broken by The Mountain Between Us, which still needs about another $80 million to break even. Annapurna’s Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (87% at RT) opened in just 1,229 theaters and only came away with $737,000. The only other wide release this year to open between 650-1200 theaters and not gross at least $1 million was A24’s Free Fire. That opened in 1,070 theaters and still made more with $994,431. A24’s acclaimed The Florida Project expanded into 33 theaters this weekend and has grossed $623,949 so far. On the other hand, Open Road only put Marshall (86% at RT) into 821 theaters and it grossed $3 million. Since 2009, the ten best openings on films to open in between 800-900 theaters are:

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain ($10.0 million), Addicted ($7.4), The Drop ($4.1), Avatar: Special Edition ($4.0), Amelia ($3.9), Marshall ($3.0), Pirate Radio ($2.9), Southside with You ($2.86), The Apparition ($2.84), Closed Circuit ($2.4).

That’s a positive on a film that didn’t have a chance to break Open Road’s now three-year streak of failing to open a film to $10 million or higher. Maybe if they gave it a chance it could have surprised them. Marshall may have been the studio’s last true effort to make some headway at the box office, because as of now, The Weinstein Company might not be the only studio folding up shop in the coming months.


Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

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