Chalk up another victory for low-budget horror films.
Director Christopher B. Landon’s high-concept fright film Happy Death Day easily beat last week’s box office champion, Blade Runner 2049, to not only win the weekend but also further cement the latter film’s status as a critical hit but a commercial flop. Happy Death Day and its $26.5 million opening weekend continues the trend of “microbudget” horror films from studio Blumhouse Productions turning a big profit for everyone involved with them, and is the studio’s third-biggest debut of the year following Split ($40 million) and Get Out ($33.3 million).
Despite the film’s big premiere, Happy Death Day fared just so-so among critics and general audiences. The film received a decent (but not great) B grade from audience polling site CinemaScore, and a 64 percent approval rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. All of that is less important than the box office numbers, though, and the film has already covered its $4.8 million production budget by a wide margin — something that Blumhouse has a knack for accomplishing with its films.
As for Blade Runner, there’s little good news to be found outside of the film’s extremely positive reviews. Audiences simply aren’t buying tickets to Arrival director Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi sequel no matter how much positive buzz it gets, and the film’s $150 million price tag isn’t helping matters.
It was expected all along that the month of October would likely belong to Blade Runner 2049, but the film’s underwhelming performance has resulted in movies that were never projected to do well suddenly finding an audience — and the studios that were brave enough to release them in the shadow of Blade Runner are reaping the rewards.
The only other new release to make it into the top 10 was martial arts movie star Jackie Chan’s new action drama The Foreigner, which received good reviews from audiences but significantly less positive reviews from critics. The film finished third for the weekend with $12.8 million, and it looks to be one of the few recent collaborations between Chinese and American movie studios that could do well in the U.S. The film’s debut was better than pundits expected, and the film is generating positive buzz among action genre fans.
The rest of the weekend’s top 10 films were all returning movies, and at this point, it’s difficult to predict how the upcoming week will shake out.
The most prominent new release is the effects-driven disaster drama Geostorm, but don’t underestimate Tyler Perry’s holiday-themed sequel Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, which could very well end the weekend at the top of the box office. Last year’s Boo! A Madea Halloween beat Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and the well-reviewed horror film Ouija: Origin of Evil to win the weekend with a $28.5 million debut, and went on to be the top movie for two straight weeks — including Halloween weekend. Perry’s films are review-proof and draw a crowd, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Boo 2! repeat that success.
Also hitting theaters this upcoming week is the serial-killer drama The Snowman, starring Michael Fassbender, as well as the critically praised thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.