When Halloween falls on a Friday you can bet the box office will be pretty underwhelming. With all major studios avoiding the date, Open Road Films’ Nightcrawler was expected to take first place by default. The R-rated drama earned an estimated $3.2 million yesterday, including $515,000 from Thursday p.m. previews. That puts it on track for about $13 million – and first place – this weekend, but it wasn’t enough to overcome horror-holdover Ouija on Halloween. Last weekend’s number one film trailed Fury and John Wick all last week but returned to first place yesterday with an estimated $3.5 million from 2,899 locations. That’s down 58% from its first Friday – an astonishingly good hold for most horror movies, let alone one that both critics and audiences have savaged.
Full story after the jump.
It might seem logical that Ouija, the only scary movie playing on a date devoted to scary movies, would end up on top on Friday. But that’s not how anyone saw Friday’s box office playing out until this morning. Halloween or not, Ouija was expected to follow a familiar course for pics of its genre and budget-range: a decent opening followed by a big sophomore drop. 2012’s The Devil Inside fell 84% on its second Friday, for example; last year’s Carrie reboot was off by 70%.
The last time Halloween fell on a Friday (in 2008) the weekend’s highest-grossing new release was Zack & Miri Make a Porno with just $10 million. At this time last year (with Halloween on Thursday) Ender’s Game opened in first place with $27 million. In fact, most strong ‘Halloween’ debuts are in years when October 31st falls during the week. The Saw franchise, which ruled Halloween for much of the last decade, avoided the date with five of its seven features. Only Saw (2004) and Saw 3D (2010) opened in years when Halloween was on a weekend-day, and in both cases that day was Sunday. The franchise still holds the all-time Halloween record ($33.6 million) with Saw III, which opened on October 27th.
Despite Ouija’s win yesterday, Nightcrawler should still take the weekend. That would mark the third number-one debut for Open Road Films, following 2012’s The Grey and End of Watch. Like Nightcrawler, the latter also starred Jake Gyllenhaal, had strong critical support and was made on a relatively tight budget. End of Watch opened with $13.8 million – just a bit higher than Nightcrawler is expected to climb.
Check back tomorrow for complete box office coverage, including the tenth anniversary re-release of Saw and the Nicole Kidman thriller Before I Go to Sleep, neither of which made it onto Friday’s top five.