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411 Box Office Report: Five Nights At Freddy’s Scores $78 Million Start

October 29, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Five Nights At Freddy’s Image Credit: Blumhouse/Universal

Animatronic mayhem reigned at the box office this weekend as Five Nights At Freddy’s soared to the #1 spot. The horror adaptation of the popular video game got off to a $78 million start, wildly overperforming its projected $50 million opening weekend. It’s easily the best opening for a film on a Halloween weekend, blasting away Puss In Boots’ $34 million record from 2011. It is also the biggest start for a Blumhouse film, edging past the 2018 Halloween’s $76.2 million first frame and the second best for a video game adaptation, behind only Super Mario Bros Movie’s $146.3 million start earlier this year.

This is obviously a huge number, and one that has Universal and Blumhouse cheering. Universal is particularly happy – and the opening is even more impressive – because the film also opened day-and-date on Peacock. That obviously left a bit of money on the table for its theatrical start, but no one is upset about that – most of all Universal, who has a box office hit and more Peacock subscribers.

So how did we get to such an overperformance? Chalk it up to a perfect storm of factors. Five Nights At Freddy’s is a massively popular video game franchise, notably among younger kids. The PG-13 rating for the film may have rankled some horror fans, but it provided an opportunity for the film to serve as a gateway horror flick and bring in all those younger fans in bigger numbers than expected. The film may not have scored as well with critics as the studio would have liked, sitting at a low 25% aggregated score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it scored high with fans. The CinemaScore was a fantastic A-, huge for a horror flick, and the RT audience score is a pretty good 89%. That all led to the movie having great word of mouth, which meant it wasn’t quite as front-loaded as originally expected.

Better yet, the film is performing well overseas where it has $52.8 million for a $130.6 million gross – the top worldwide start for a horror film in 2023, smashing past The Nun II’s $88.1 million worldwide opening. And all this is on a budget of just $20 million. It’s hard to tell where the film will end its run; the streaming day-and-date release suggests it will be quite frontloaded. But it’s hard to imagine the film doing less than $150 million domestically and it could go as high as $200 million if it holds okay. Suffice it to say, there will be more of Freddy Fazbear and his killer friends to come at the movies.

Taylor Swift fell a spot to #2 this weekend as The Eras Tour was down 56% to $14.7 million. Considering the concert film was up against another film that skewed young, that’s a pretty solid hold. The movie now has $149.4 million domestically and $203.1 million worldwide against a budget of just $10 million to $20 million and is still on par for and ending total of about $170 million. That’s big money for Swift.

Killers of the Flower Moon took a hefty dive, as it slipped 61% in its second weekend to $9 million. That’s the highest second-weekend drop for a Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration by a long shot; the previous high was Shutter Island which slipped 45% in 2010. Still, as we noted last week this is not a film that Apple and Paramount are too worried about because even losing money in theaters is good for Apple as an advertising effort. Flower Moon has $40.7 million domestically and $84.7 million worldwide and should end its domestic run around $70 million.

Angel Studios, the studio behind Sound of Freedom, had another success as After Death opened at #4 with $5.1 million. That’s quite good for a documentary about the notion of near-death experiences. It’s the best documentary start of the year, beating Fathom Events’ The Journey: A Music Special which got off to a $507,000 start in April.

There isn’t a good comparison to make here, as this is a rare faith-based documentary. But it’s more telling regarding the studio’s ability to market its films to its targeted audience. Angel knows how to build its films up, and the audience here was very much from the studio’s demographic. The few critics who reviewed it were mixed with a 57% RT score, but the audiences loved it with an A- CinemaScore and an 87% RT audience score. There’s no word on the budget but it can’t be high, and no good comparisons to guess how it will hold. Also no word on its budget but it was almost certainly profitable. We’ll have a better where this one goes next weekend.

The Exorcist: Believer continues to hold solidly, down 46% in its fourth weekend to gross $3.1 million. The legacy sequel is now up to $59.4 million domestically and $120.4 million worldwide, decent enough numbers. The budget was $30 million (not counting the $400 million paid for the rights to the full trilogy to come), and the studio is probably more or less okay with how it’s doing especially as it continues to hold despite being on digital already. It should close out at around $70 million or so.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie took a hit with the number of options for families in theaters, down 51% for a $2.2 million fifth weekend. The animated film is a hit already with $59.2 million domestically and $166.4 million worldwide against a $30 million budget. It should be able to end its run just a little short of $70 million stateside.

John Cena’s latest film opened quietly as the action comedy Freelance brought in just $2.1 million. That’s about where it was expected to do, being a Relativity Media release with little marketing and negative buzz. The film, which stars Cena and Alison Brie, has the ignominy of a rare 0% score among critics on RT. Audiences who did see it didn’t hate it with a B- CinemaScore, but a telling sign of its low audience (besides the gross of course) is the fact that it doesn’t have an RT audience score.

Freelance added about $465,000 overseas in a smattering of territories for a $2.5 million worldwide start. There’s not a shred of evidence to support the notion that this will have good holds and wouldn’t be in good shape even if it did. With a reported $40 million budget, this is an assured box office bomb and probably don’t top $6 million domestically.

Disney’s rerelease of The Nightmare Before Christmas was down 53% in its second week to $2 million. The film is doing fine in its rerelease and has grossed $85.2 million domestically and $99.1 million worldwide throughout its various theatrical runs.

Saw X dipped 53% in its fifth weekend to bring in $1.7 million. The latest sequel in the horror franchise is a hit for Lionsgate with $50.3 million domestically and $83.2 million worldwide, making it the first Saw film to top $50 million since Saw V in 2008. The film is on digital now and should take some bigger hits in its last few weeks but is still looking likely to finish out around $55 million domestically.

The Creator closed out the top 10 as it slid 63% in its fifth weekend to $1 million. The sci-fi film now has $38.8 million stateside and $97.3 million worldwide. It’s a money loser against an $80 million production budget and should finish out just around $40 million in the US.

Five Nights At Freddy’s will reign again next weekend barring one of the most disastrous drops in history (which won’t happen), as it has no major competition. The only major new release is A24’s biopic Priscilla, which is looking to gross in the mid-to-high single digits. Roadside’s The Marsh King’s Daughter and Bleecker Street’s romcom What Happens Later shouldn’t make too much of a splash.

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN (Three-Day Domestic Numbers)
1. Five Nights At Freddy’s – $78 million ($78 million total, $130.6 million WW)
2. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour – $14.7 million ($149.4 million total, $203.1 million WW)
3. Killers Of The Flower Moon – $9 million ($40.7 million total, $84.7 million WW)
4. After Death – $5.1 million ($5.1 million total, $5.1 million WW)
5. The Exorcist: Believer – $3.1 million ($59.4 million total, $120.4 million WW)
6. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie – $2.2 million ($59.2 million total, $166.4 million WW)
7. Freelance – $2.1 million ($2.1 million total, $2.5 million WW)
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas – $2 million ($85.2 million total, $99.1 million WW)
9. Saw X – $1.7 million ($50.3 million total, $83.2 million WW)
10. The Creator – $1 million ($38.8 million total, $97.3 million WW)