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‘Happy Death Day’ Smells Sweet at Weekend Box Office

As "Blade Runner 2049" looks to do comparable business to "Arrival," horror remains a reliable genre in the weeks before Halloween.

“Happy Death Day”

Horror flick “Happy Death Day” (Universal) easily topped the weekend. The latest production from prolific horror supplier Blumhouse ranked below their early year openers “Get Out” and “Split,” but $26.5 million for a movie with a $5-million production budget marks an instant success.

While some of the Blumhouse aura has been overshadowed by the massive success of Warner Bros.’ Stephen King juggernaut “It,” that shouldn’t take away producer Jason Blum’s mastery at consistently packaging original low-budget smash hits.

“Happy Death Day” is a bit lower-profile than other recent Blum house efforts, but it still landed some respectable mainstream reviews. That’s a big change from how the genre has been treated in recent years.

The film was positioned well in two ways. Mid-October is often a prime pre-Halloween date for horror entries. Lionsgate claimed the weekend before October 31 for “Jigsaw,” so Blumhouse went with the earlier weekend — without any competition from Halloween parties. Also the timing allowed the trailer for “Happy” to play in front of some 30 million ticket buyers for “It.” This marks a mid-level Blumhouse success. Both “Ouija” and its sequel last October opened smaller.

“Happy” led the way for a slight boost in grosses over a year ago. With prime-time TV baseball games with teams from the three largest markets and only one wide opening, that’s not a bad result. Last year saw “The Accountant” open to a bit less, along with a $12-million grossing Kevin Hart comedy concert film.

Courtesy of STXfilms

“The Foreigner” (STX), the other wide opener, showed that after decades of success Jackie Chan still can draw a middling audience. Worldwide, the film has already passed $100 million. It had a strong Cinemascore (A-), which might account for its Saturday increase. (That’s rare for second-day mass market openers; “Happy Death Day” was down 19 per cent.) Asian-American audiences remain under-represented among commercial films, and STX reports they were well-represented in the 59 per cent male audience.

"Blade Runner 2049"

“Blade Runner 2049”

Warner Bros.

Holdovers

All eyes were on the second weekend of the disappointing “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.). Its drop was 54 per cent, good enough for second place at $15.1 million. The problem is it fell from a lower number than hoped for last weekend. That is a marked improvement over the 62 and 70 per cent respective drops for summer’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Alien: Covenant” and suggests a longer shelf life for Denis Villeneuve’s acclaimed film. Having reached $60 million at this point, its chances of hitting $100 million domestic are much improved.

Expectations are everything. Take the director’s recent “Arrival” (which topped out at $100.5 million domestic off a budget of $47 million): the sci-fi drama opened on a date that allowed it to have a boost over Thanksgiving, then sustain a longer run that included Christmas dates. That movie reached about $44 million after ten days, dropping 49 per cent on weekend two. But that was strong enough to boost its chances for leading Oscar nominations, which is still possible for the “Blade Runner” sequel.

"It"

“It”

“It” only fell 39 per cent, which is incredible. Now at $315 million, figure it to add another $20 million or so before it’s done. Only one film had a major drop, with the second weekend of “My Little Pony: The Movie” (Lionsgate) falling 55 per cent,  which is high for an animated film. The second weekend falloff for the disappointing “The Mountain Between Us” (20th Century Fox) was more modest at 46 per cent.

Wider niche films continue to hover in the vicinity of the Top Ten. “Victoria & Abdul” (Focus) held with a small 25 per cent drop, while still not up to 1,000 theaters. “Marshall” (Open Road) and “Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman” (Annapurna) in 821 and 1,229 theaters respectively, were #11 and #14. The former, about the early days of Civil Rights pioneer Thurgood Marshall, made a promising debut. However, “Professor Marston” was a complete dud despite upbeat reviews.

Top Ten Box Office Chart

1. Happy Death Day (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 57; Est. budget: $5 million

$26,500,000 in 3,149 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $8,415; Cumulative: $26,500,000

2. Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #1

$15,100,000 (-54%) in 4,058 theaters (no change); PTA: $3,721; Cumulative: $60,578,000

3. The Foreigner (STX) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 57; Est. budget: $35 million

$12,840,000 in 2,515 theaters; PTA: $5,105; Cumulative: $12,840,000

4. It (Warner Bros.) Week 6 – Last weekend #3

$6,050,000 (-39%) in 3,176 theaters (-429); PTA: $1,905; Cumulative: $314,930,000

5. The Mountain Between Us (20th Century Fox) Week 2 – Last weekend #2

$5,650,000 (-46%) in 3,259 theaters (+171); PTA: $1,734; Cumulative: $20,503,000

6. American Made (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend #6

$5,423,000 (-36%) in 3,098 theaters (+171); PTA: $1,750; Cumulative: $40,153,000

7. Kingsman:  The Golden Circle (20th Century Fox) Week 4 – Last weekend #5

$5,315,000 (-39%) in 2,982 theaters (-506); PTA: $1,782; Cumulative: $89,652,000

8. The LEGO Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros.) Week – Last weekend #7

$4,315,000 (-38%) in 3,053 theaters (-558); PTA: $1,413; Cumulative: $51,578,000

9. My Little Pony: The Movie (Lionsgate) Week 2 – Last weekend #4

$4,000,000 (-55%) in 2,528 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,582; Cumulative: $15,513,000

10. Victoria & Abdul (Focus) Week 4 – Last weekend #8

$3,115,000 (-25%) in 900 theaters (-168); PTA: $3,461; Cumulative: $11,342,000

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