Like the final girl at the end of a teen slasher movie, the “Halloween” franchise is a survivor. Since Jamie Lee Curtis first faced Michael Myers in 1978, the series has been bloodied by multiple bad sequels and overwrought remakes.
This weekend, a back-to-basics follow-up to the John Carpenter horror classic is expected to pay off in a big way. The new installment, released by Universal Pictures, is expected to collect about $60 million Friday through Sunday, which would be a best-ever opening for a “Halloween” movie.
The low-budget film — released by Universal Pictures and produced by series stalwart Trancas International Films, horror movie factory Blumhouse Productions and Miramax — should easily top the domestic box office charts this weekend. It is expected to unseat Sony Pictures’ Marvel antihero hit “Venom,” which has been No. 1 for two weeks and has grossed $142 million in the United States and Canada.
Here’s what to watch.
A good ‘Halloween’ sequel?
After 10 “Halloween” films in 40 years, including two Rob Zombie-directed remakes, the series badly needed a refresh.
With the new version, the filmmakers discarded the plotlines of the previous sequels, setting the movie 40 years after the events of Carpenter’s standard-bearing original. The 1978 film famously cost just $325,000 to produce, but grossed $47 million and inspired decades of imitators.
Curtis returns as a hardened and trauma-stricken Laurie Strode, who has spent her adult life stockpiling weapons and fortifying her house to prepare for her inevitable rematch with her masked assailant. She must protect her family after Myers escapes from state custody and goes on another rampage in Haddonfield, Ill. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride (of TV’s “Vice Principals”) co-wrote the new film, with Green directing.
The reset strategy appears to have worked for critics. Reviews for “Halloween” have been generally positive, indicated by an 86% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Comcast-owned Universal has waged a robust promotional campaign for the movie, which cost about $10 million to make, touting Curtis’ return to the role that launched her career. The trailer has accumulated 160 million online views since its release in June. The studio is anticipating an opening of about $50 million, though some analysts say it could go as high as $70 million.
“Halloween” will probably be the latest film to prove the horror genre’s continued viability at the box office. This year has been a strong one for scary movies, with hits such as Warner Bros.’ “The Nun” and Paramount Pictures’ “A Quiet Place” benefiting from audiences’ appetite for experiencing scares in a dark, crowded theater.
“Halloween” also probably will be the latest success for Blumhouse, which is known for such movies as “Get Out” and the “Purge” series. Malek Akkad, son of original “Halloween” producer Moustapha Akkad, was also closely involved in the project.
Also entering wide release is the emotional drama “The Hate U Give,” based on Angie Thomas’ young adult novel about a black teen who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend by a white police officer. The movie, released by 20th Century Fox, is expected to gross $7 million to $9 million as it expands to theaters nationwide.
Fox has been steadily increasing the number of theaters for “The Hate U Give” since its limited release on Oct. 5, as it tries to build buzz for the topical, social-issue-driven film. The movie was met with tragedy on its opening day, when screenwriter Audrey Wells died after a battle with cancer.
The critically acclaimed film has grossed about $2.5 million so far.
Also expanding is Fox Searchlight’s Robert Redford movie “The Old Man and the Gun,” written and directed by David Lowery. The crime comedy about notorious escape artist Forrest Tucker will play in about 800 theaters this weekend.