Five Nights At Freddy's

In more good news for theatrical distribution and its exhibition partners Universal/Blumhouse’s Five Nights At Freddy’s directed by Emma Tammi shattered North American box office records as it posted the highest horror bow of 2023 and the highest ever Halloween debut on an estimated $78m simultaneous theatrical and Peacock release.

The three-day bow in 3,675 North American theatres overtook Scream VI on $44.4m to rank as the highest horror debut this year; ranks third in the all-time horror opening weekend pantheon behind It on $123.4m in 2017 and It: Chapter Two on $91.1m in 2019; and beat Puss In Boots on $34.1m in 2011 to deliver the highest Halloween weekend debut.

Crucially, the story of a security guard (Josh Hutcherson) who takes a job at a mysterious pizza joint also becomes the highest day-and-date opening weekend of all time ahead of Halloween Kills on $49.4m in 2021, showing how audiences will turn out for an event screening even when they can watch it at home.

Universal provided several Peacock facts but no numbers, reporting that Five Nights At Freddy’s is tracking to have the biggest opening ever for a film on Peacock, where it was made available for paid-tier customers only, and has become the most-watched and most subscription-driving content title since it launched on the service on October 26. Peacock’s US subscribers number some 28m in the US per NBCUniversal’s recent Q3 earnings report.

The theatrical opening weekend also marked the 19th time a Blumhouse Productions film has opened top of the charts, pushing the genre hit factory past the $3bn mark in North America alone. If the estimate holds by Monday when Universal reports confirmed numbers, the opening weekend will overtake Halloween on $76.2m in 2018 to rank as Blumhouse’s biggest ever debut.

Five Nights At Freddy’s also scored the highest debut by any horror film rated PG-13 ahead of The Mummy Returns in 2001 on $68.1m; the highest opening weekend for a horror directed by a woman ahead of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman on $22m in 2021; and the second biggest opening weekend for a film based on a videogame behind this year’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie on $146.4m. All numbers are unadjusted for inflation.

In theatres the film drew a 58% male audience while 81% of the crowd was aged under 25. By ethnic demographic the Hispanic audience made up 40% of the cinema-going audience, followed by Caucasian on 36%, African American on 11%, Asian on $7%, and Native American and other demographics on 6%.

Meanwhile Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour fell one place to number two and added $14.7m through AMC Distribution in its third weekend to bring the running total to $149.3m in North America and $203m globally.

In its second weekend Martin Scorsese’s Apple Original Killers Of The Flower Moon distributed theatrically via Paramount grossed slipped a hefty 61% on $9m for a $40.7m, ranking third in North America. The crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone and Robert De Niro runs to nearly three and a half hours and is expected to play into awards season as older audiences engage with the film.

Focus Features’ Telluride premiere and awards contender The Holdovers, in which director Alexander Payne reunites with his Sideways star Paul Giamatti, opened strongly in the specialty box office arena, earning an estimated $200,000 over three days on six screens for a robust per-screen average of $33,333.

The 1970s-set film will expand this week into approximately 60 sites across the top 20 markets and has also played TIFF, London, and Middleburg Film Festival, another awards season staging post in the US.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa round out the key cast on the story of a grouchy prep school teacher forced to spend the year-end holidays on school grounds with a feisty student and a school cook grieving over the loss of her son in the Vietnam War. David Hemingson wrote the screenplay.

A24’s awards hopeful Priscilla directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Venice Coppa Volpi winner Cailee Spaeny in the title role and Australia’s Jacob Elordi (Saltburn) as Elvis Presley arrived on $132,139 from four screens for a $33,035 average.

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