'Halloween Kills' and 'The Last Duel' Look to Scare Up Big Box Office Numbers

‘Halloween’ reboot sequel is expected to take No. 1 this weekend as it opens in theaters and on Peacock

Photo: Universal Pictures/20 Century Studios

After “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “No Time to Die” posted opening weekends that rank in the top 5 for 2021, Universal/Blumhouse’s “Halloween Kills” and 20th Century’s “The Last Duel” are expected to open to more modest numbers.

“Halloween Kills,” a direct sequel to the 2018 reboot of the Jamie Lee Curtis horror saga, is currently tracking for a $35-40 million opening weekend, with Universal projecting an opening on the lower end of that scale. Between the lingering effects of the pandemic, competition from “Venom 2” and Bond” and the diminished nostalgia factor that the 2018 film enjoyed with Curtis’ return to her first film role, “Halloween Kills” was never expected to reach the $76 million opening attained by its predecessor.

But given Blumhouse’s penchant for making low-budget horror films — the “Halloween” reboot was made on a reported $15 million budget — “Halloween Kills” faces an easy path to profitability. This is likely a factor in Universal’s decision to release the film simultaneously on streaming via Peacock. This is the second time a major studio has released a horror sequel day-and-date this year, with Warner Bros.’ “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” opening to $24.1 million as it hit theaters and HBO Max in early June.

Studio sources have told TheWrap that Universal expects that “Halloween Kills” will get theatrical support from hardcore horror buffs while more casual audiences that are curious may pick the film as an at-home horror flick for the Halloween season. Studios have seen horror as a reliable draw at the box office because fans of the genre see a crowded theater as part of the experience, and that could help the film through the remainder of October.

And even if casual moviegoers may not be as excited to see another battle between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, the two horror icons haven’t lost their appeal with devotees of the series. Though the film has a more tepid critical reception than its predecessor with a 53% Rotten Tomatoes score, that buzz among hardcore fans combined with its low budget should be enough to make “Halloween Kills” relatively critic-proof.

“The Last Duel” will also open this weekend in approximately 3,000 theaters, with estimates currently projecting an opening around $10 million. This bloody, R-rated historical epic from Ridley Scott tells the story of the last-known trial by combat in human history and the French noblewoman who caused it by speaking out about the sexual assault committed against her.

“The Last Duel” has received positive reviews with an 89% RT score and comes after the release of “No Time to Die” has already begun to draw some older moviegoers back to cinemas. But the competition from Bond and the film’s dark subject matter may hinder the film’s post-release buzz, with projections set at an $7-10 million opening. Disney is hoping that awards buzz for the film, combined with names like Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck in the cast, will be enough to draw in mature audiences despite its graphic nature.

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