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Halloween Spooks the Box Office as ‘Dune’ Drops 62 Percent

New releases “Last Night in Soho” and “Antlers” saw disappointing returns, but "My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission" struck gold.


Warner Bros.

Halloween on a Sunday made a slow box office all but inevitable. Studios avoided programming top new films and created the self-fulling prophecy of a $66 million total, by far the lowest in the strongest month this year.

It represented 57 percent of the closest weekend in 2019, bringing the four-week comparative rolling average to 75 percent.

Dune” (Warner Bros.) had a weaker than anticipated second weekend, with a 62 percent drop grossing $15.5 million. Halloween was expected to hurt but Denis Villeneuve’s film lacked the competition of a major opening.

Next weekend it will face the challenge of “Eternals.” Not only will they compete for attention in overlapping audiences, it will also grab nearly all premium presentation screens that accounted for more than 25 percent of the “Dune” total. Its domestic take so far is $69.4 million, worldwide $292 million. That’s respectable, but not yet at a level where this is assured of a profit.

The drop suggests that while “Dune” has intense fans they don’t include many of the avid moviegoers who made “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Sony) and “Halloween Kills” (Universal) pop. Its drop is nearly nine points more than the similar-profile “Blade Runner 2049” in its second weekend, and that came after a holiday-inflated opening. The argument that this is HBO Max’s fault lacks logic; there’s no explanation why it would matter more now than it did earlier.


“My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission”


The best specialized opening was a surprise with “Our Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission” (Funimation), with only half as many screens as “Last Night in Soho” (Focus) and “Antlers” (Searchlight). The Japanese manga anime grossed $6.4 million to place an unexpected #4. Its marketing fell below the radar of most mainstream media, targeting gamer sites and other places followed by its younger, male audience.

In an earlier iteration of Hollywood, “Soho” and “Antlers” might have been mainstream studio releases. In this franchise-heavy world, they went out through two first-rate specialized units: Universal and Disney. (Searchlight greenlit “Antlers” when it was owned by 20th Century Fox.) “Soho” is the highest-budget film from Edgar Wright whose “Baby Driver” grossed $108 million from a $21 million opening.

That downward trajectory appears to be a trend that’s also reflected in Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight). Its second-week expansion was strong compared to most similar releases, but relative success doesn’t pay the bills. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” grossed a third better ($3.6 million) in 77 theaters its second weekend, more than 700 fewer than “Dispatch.” His “Isle of Dogs” did $2.9 million in 165 theaters its second weekend.

“Antlers,” from Searchlight veteran director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart) and producer Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”), has more mainstream audience appeal. The horror drama (a troubled youth’s behavior is traced to ancient spirits) was meant to reach a core genre audience, but failed to gain traction despite its sole entry as a new Halloween-related release.

Focus at least has the anticipated post-three week Premium VOD release to boost “Soho” revenues. With assumed delays of at least 45 days, neither “Dispatch” nor “Antlers” look to recover so easily.

Its potential audience instead went to strong holdovers for “Halloween Kills” (Universal, -41 percent) and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Sony, -35 percent) as well as “Academia.” The best holds were “No Time to Die (United Artists, -33 percent) and “The Addams Family 2” (United Artists/-27 percent.)

The Souvenir: Part II

“The Souvenir: Part II”


Halloween usually shuns top platform releases. This year A24 opened “The Souvenir: Part II” in three theaters. Reviews for Joanna Hogg’s British drama (96 currently at Metacritic) are close to the best for any 2021 release.

It grossed $26,485 in three New York/Los Angeles locations, with an average of $8,828. That’s clearly one of the better results in the challenged niche market. The first “Souvenir” took in $78,400 in four theaters, a much higher initial return.

Two other acclaimed releases, “Attica” (Showtime) and “Passing” (Netflix), also opened, both with strong reviews. As the norm for films that use theaters to showcase films mainly showing at home, the companies provided no grosses.

The Top 10

1. Dune (Warner Bros.) Week 2 – Last weekend #1; also on HBO Max

$15,530,000 (-62%) in 4,125 (no change) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $3,765; Cumulative: $69,401,000

2. Halloween Kills (Universal) Week 3 – Last weekend #2; also on Peacock

$8,500,000 (-41%) in 3,616 (-111) theaters; PTA: $2,351; Cumulative: $85,633,000

3. No Time to Die (United Artists) Week 4  – Last weekend #3

$7,819,000 (-36%) in 3,507 (-300) theaters; PTA: $2,229; Cumulative: $133,329,000

4. My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission (Funimation) NEW – Metacritic: 51

$6,400,000 in 1,602 theaters; PTA: $3,995; Cumulative: $6,400,000

5. Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony) Week 5 – Last weekend #4

$5,750,000 (-38%) in 3,278 (-235) theaters; PTA: $1,754; Cumulative: $190,439,000

6. Last Night in Soho (Focus) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Metacritic: 67; est. budget: $43 million

$4,200,000 in 3,016 theaters; PTA: $1,392; Cumulative: $4,200,000

7. Antlers (Searchlight) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 58

$4,160,000 in 2,800 theaters; PTA: $1,486; Cumulative: $4,160,000

8. Ron’s Gone Wrong (Disney) Week 2 – Last weekend #5

$3,848,000 (-48%) in 3,560 (no change) theaters; PTA: $1,075; Cumulative: $12,640,000

9. The Addams Family 2 (United Artists) Week  5 – Last weekend #6

$3,276,000 (-27%) in 2,757 (-150) theaters; PTA: $1,188; Cumulative: $52,858,000

10. The French Dispatch (Searchlight) Week 2 – Last weekend #9

$2,759,000 (+105%) in 788 (+736) theaters; PTA: $3,501; Cumulative: $4,636,000

Additional specialized/limited/independent releases

The Souvenir: Part II (A24) – Metacritic: 96; Festivals include: Cannes, New York 2021

$26,485 in 3 theaters; PTA: $8,828

Lamb (A24) – Week 4; also on Premium VOD

$36,790 in 145 (-290) theaters; Cumulative: $2,676,000

The Rescue (Greenwich) Week 4   303

$50,500 in 101 (-202) theaters; Cumulative: $903,000

Mass (Bleecker Street) Week 4

$18,456 (+18) theaters; Cumulative: $122,200



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