March Madness continues — are we seeing the most significant rebound since theaters reopened?
On Thursday, “Scream 6” (Paramount) took in $5.7 million. That stemmed from a combination of 5 p.m. fan events and regular initial previews, but no matter how Ghostface sliced it: That’s big.
How big? That beats the impressive “Creed III” (MGM) performance last week of $5.45 million and it’s much bigger than last year’s initial “Scream” reboot, which generated $3.5 million. However, this one has “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega in the lead.
Last weekend, “Creed III” flew to $58.4 million; in January 2022, “Scream” opened to $30 million. The strong preview for “Scream 6” is even more impressive when industry expectations placed the horror film last among the four highly touted sequels that will be released this month. (“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” from Warner Bros. Discovery and “John Wick: Chapter 4 are still to come.)
Horror sequels tend to be heavily front-loaded and often get mixed initial reactions. It’s too early to suggest that “Scream 6”
will exceed “Creed III” or even for certain reach $50 million this weekend. That said, expect its total to exceed all prior expectations that placed its opening under $40 million.
Also impressive: March almost always is the best early-year month, often with one film (2019 had “The Batman”) opening over $100 million. However, we’re presented with the possibility of four straight weeks of high-end openings. That’s a rarity at any time of year outside of the summer.
Theaters benefited from several massive hits over the last 16 months, but the business needs a sustained group of new successes week after week that allow it to rewrite the feast-or-famine story that’s shaped post-pandemic exhibition. Maybe, that’s finally happening.
Apart from the “Scream 6” performance this weekend, we’ll get to see how the competition from multiple films affects holdovers (starting with “Creed III”).
These numbers also guarantee a reinforcement of the notion that sequels rule and any notion of franchise fatigue — “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney) aside — is premature.
Things will be clearer by Sunday. Until then, be impressed.
Also opening this weekend to lesser effect are Adam Driver’s critically panned space-and-dino actioner “65” (Sony), Woody Harrelson comedy “Champions” (Focus), low-budget legal thriller “Confession” (Vertical), and a LGBTQ boxer drama starring Tim Roth, “Punch” (Dark Star).