There were many hopes that October would do better at the box office than most of September, and with Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour opening this Friday, that will certainly happen.
This weekend, Universal Pictures released David Gordon Green‘s The Exorcist: Believer into 3,663 theaters, after buying the rights to the horror franchise based on William Peter Blatty‘s novel for a reported $400 million. The plan was for Green to direct a new trilogy, similar to how he did with his Halloween trilogy, which ran from 2018 to 2021. Starring Leslie Odom, Jr, Jennifer Nettles, and Ann Dowd, the sequel to the original 1973 horror classic directed by the late William Friedkin, included the promise of bringing back original stars Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair, while setting up a new story. I mean, it worked for Halloween, didn’t it?
The first big hurdle was when film critics started seeing the movie and immediately began the universal pans that led to an abysmal 23% Rotten Tomatoes score. Normally, horror can withstand bad reviews if there’s an effective trailer, and Believer certainly seemed to have that, helped by that trailer playing in front of every August and September horror movie.
Tracking had the movie opening over $30 million, but with the $2.8 million made in Thursday previews, it was quickly obvious Green’s movie wouldn’t hit that mark. With $11.9 million grossed on Friday (including previews), that led to an estimated opening weekend of $27.2 million or $7,426 per location. That isn’t terrible until you place it next to that $400 million number paid for the rights. (UPDATE: The actual weekend box office reported on Monday was even lower with just $26.4 million.)
Even worse, audiences hated the movie almost as much as critics, going by the “C” CinemaScore, which means there’s very little chance for legs in a normally busy month for horror films.
Overseas, The Exorcist sequel opened in 52 markets with $17.9 million, Mexico topping all other territories with $4 million, and the UK and Ireland bringing in $2.1 million. That isn’t great, though, and because there might not be much help from other markets, it’s going to be hard for the movie to make more than $130 to 150 million worldwide.
That puts into serious question the planned sequel, The Exorcist: Deceiver, which has already been scheduled for April 2025. Rumors have been flying that Green probably won’t stick around to direct that, and some might wonder if Universal would be better to cut their losses and make any future movies on the cheap for the Peacock streamer.
Three out of four of last weekend’s openers crashed hard in their second weekends, although Paramount‘s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie held up slightly better than the other two, taking second place with an estimated $11.8 million, down 48% from its opening weekend. It has grossed $38.9 million so far domestically, putting it in good shape for a planned third movie.
Lionsgate‘s own sequel, Saw X, took a characteristically larger drop, down 56% to third place with a second weekend of $8.2 million and $32.5 million grossed so far. That’s actually pretty good for ten days, considering that only one movie in the franchise has grossed more than $45 million since 2008. It has already passed 2021’s Spiral, directed by Chris Rock, and 2009’s Saw VI, so going back to basics may have paid off for the long-running horror franchise.
Gareth Edwards‘ sci-fi film, The Creator, took fourth place with $6.1 million, down 58% in its second weekend, and that’s not nearly as good, since it’s grossed less than $25 million domestically based on a reported $80 million budget.
The one movie that held up well from last week is the Fathom Events biopic, The Blind, which tells the tale of Duck Dynasty founder Phil Robertson, a movie that seemingly came out of nowhere but found a rapt audience from fans of the reality show. This weekend, it added another $3.1 million to remain in fifth place with $10.5 million grossed so far.
Sixth place went to Kenneth Branagh‘s A Haunting in Venice, which finally pulled ahead of The Nun II, with $2.7 million to the latter’s $2.6 million. The Nun II has grossed $81 million with a much smaller budget than Branagh’s movie, which is relying much heavier on international grosses to come anywhere near profitable.
Sony took eighth and ninth place with Dumb Money, dropping 35% with $2.2 million, and Denzel Washington‘s The Equalizer 3 with $1.8 million (down 32%). The latter is gaining ground on the two previous installations with $88.8 million, while Dumb Money is pretty much done-zo with $10.6 million
Disney released a 30th anniversary re-release of its 1993 family classic, Hocus Pocus, into 1,430 theaters, and the lack of options for families with slightly older kids helped it make $1.5 million to take tenth place, averaging $1,078 per location.
A big hit at the Toronto International Film Festival, A24‘s comedy-musical, Dicks: The Musical, directed by Larry Charles (Borat), opened in seven theaters in New York, L.A. and S.F., where it grossed $220.9k or $31.5k per location.
Other limited releases included Rebecca Miller‘s She Came to Me, released by Vertical into 355 theaters, where it brought in $360k or $1k per location, and Kitty Green‘s The Royal Hotel in 267 theaters, where it made $335k or $1,254 per theater.
Pedro Almodóvar‘s short Western, Strange Way of Life, starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal, was released into 276 theaters, accompanied by another Almodóvar short, The Human Voice, where it made $205k.
Lastly, IFC Films released the Spanish-language horror film, When Evil Lurks, nationwide into 659 theaters where it bombed with $200.2k or $303 per theater. This probably should have been held a week or two rather than opening directly against The Exorcist: Believer.
Even though the cumulative gross of the Top 10 took another drop from last weekend, there’s still that Taylor Swift movie opening Friday, which has already sold over $100 million in tickets, so it will be making a play for Joker‘s previous October opening record.
|Rank||Entry||Distributor||Revenue||Theater Count||Total Revenue|
|1||The Exorcist: Believer||Universal||$26,497,600||3,663||$26,497,600|
|2||PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie||Paramount Pictures||$11,330,072||4,027||$38,447,060|
|4||The Creator||20th Century Studios||$6,245,290||3,680||$25,075,327|
|5||The Blind||Fathom Events||$3,205,406||1,314||$10,565,867|
|6||A Haunting in Venice||20th Century Studios||$2,692,512||2,425||$35,614,238|
|7||The Nun II||Warner Bros.||$2,604,278||2,492||$81,089,080|
|8||Dumb Money||Sony Pictures||$2,123,504||2,837||$10,608,569|
|9||The Equalizer 3||Sony Pictures||$1,800,939||1,526||$88,803,214|
|10||Hocus Pocus||Walt Disney||$1,609,874||1,430||$45,710,934|