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Box Office: Five Nights at Freddy’s Exceeds Expectations with $131 Million Global Opening

For over nine years, studios have been trying to turn Scott Cawthorn‘s hugely popular video game and novel series, Five Nights at Freddy’s, into a movie, with Warner Bros originally buying the rights in 2014. Eventually, it took the partnership of Universal Pictures and Blumhouse to make it happen, and this weekend, that decision proved to be quite fruitful.

Directed by Emma Tammi (The Wind) and starring Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), Five Nights at Freddy’s came into the weekend with healthy advance ticket sales, but it also would be released day-and-date streaming on NBCUniversal‘s Peacock streamer. The late-breaking reviews were horrendous with 26% on Rotten Tomatoes, but Universal released the movie into 3,675 theaters in hopes the fans would prefer to see the movie en masse in theaters. That gamble proved to be sound, as Freddy’s ended up making $10.3 million in Thursday previews alone, more than David Gordon Green‘s Halloween reboot made with its own $7.7 million Thursday previews in 2018.

It ended up making $39.5 million on Friday (including those previews), surpassing the opening day for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour earlier in the month as well as 2019’s Joker, which is still holds the record for biggest October opening with $96.2 million. Freddy‘s ended up being far more frontloaded than both of those, ending its opening weekend with an estimated $78 million. (Early word on Monday is that Sunday may have been underestimated, meaning its domestic opening could be even higher.) UPDATE: Universal has indeed upped the movie’s domestic opening weekend gross to $80 million.

Based on those estimates, it has surpassed Halloween‘s $76.2 million to become Blumhouse’s biggest opener, while also having the four or fifth biggest opening for an October release after Joker, the two Venom movies, and of course, the Taylor Swift concert movie. That’s also the biggest horror opening of the year ahead of The Nun II in September, and Blumhouse’s biggest opening ahead of that 2018 Halloween reboot.

Possibly even more surprising than that opening take was the fact that the movie received an “A-” CinemaScore from audiences, rare for a horror film but essentially the same score that Jordan Peele‘s Get Out received, as well as 2021’s A Quiet Place Part 2.

Freddy’s also opened in 60 international markets, including Mexico, the UK & Ireland, Australia, and more, where it took in an additional $52.6 million for an estimated global opening of $130.6 million. $10.8 million of that amount came from ~3,000 screens in Mexico, another $6.3 million from 850 screens in the UK & Ireland, $3.9 million from Brazil, and $3.8 million from Australia. It had the biggest horror opening in a number of territories, including Peru, Chile, the Ukraine and Finland. 

After two weeks in first place, Taylor Swift’s Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour dropped to second place with $14.7 million, down 56% in its third weekend (after taking much of the week off). It has grossed $149.3 million domestically so far, but it only has one more planned weekend in theaters, as well as screenings on Halloween night Tuesday for those who want to dress up. Overseas, the concert film added another $6.7 million to bring its overseas total to $53.7 million and global total to $203 million.

Martin Scorsese‘s crime-drama Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, should have held up better against Freddy’s, being that it skews much older, but it took a massive 61% drop to third place with $9 million and $40.7 million domestic, so far. That doesn’t mean business can’t pick up from word-of-mouth, but it definitely may have been hurt by its long running time and limited amount of screenings when decisions had to be made whether to give a few screens to Freddy‘s.

Angel Studios released Stephen Gray‘s documentary After Death, exploring what happens after death from a faith-based standpoint, and it was able to bring in $5.1 million in 2,645 theaters, averaging $1,913 per location despite mixed reviews. It also received an “A-” CinemaScore, and we’ll have to see if Angel Studios’ “pay it forward” ticketing plan works as well as it did with Sound of Freedom over the summer.

Fifth place went to David Gordon Green‘s The Exorcist: Believer with $3.1 million in 2,717 theaters, down 46% from last weekend, so less affected by horror competition than other movies. It has grossed $59.4 million domestically, far below expectations, and we’ll have to see if Universal pivots on the plans for a trilogy, which at one time was planned partially to stream on Peacock, too.

Even Paramount‘s animated PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie couldn’t hold up against the overwhelming Freddie, dropping 51% to sixth place with $2.2 million and $59.2 million total, just slightly behind The Exorcist.

Relativity Media seemed to be all but dead as a distributor, so the release of the action-comedy Freelance, starring John Cena and Alison Brie, into 2,605 theaters may have come as a shock to some. The movie received very little promotion and received a super-rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, neither which helped its opening weekend in 2,057 theaters where it bombed with just $2.1 million or $1,001 per location.

Disney‘s 30th Anniversary re-release of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas dropped to eighth place, down 53% from its own opening weekend with $2 million and $7.9 million added to its total just from this re-release.

Saw X took ninth place with $1.7 million in 2,141 theaters (down 53%), bringing its domestic total to $50.3 million as it tries to catch up with earlier installments, including the very first Saw movie ($56 million domestic gross) and 2008’s Saw V ($56.4 million), while still being well ahead of the previous four installments. Unfortunately, it’s already on VOD and after Halloween on Tuesday, it’s going to drop like a rock.

Alexander Payne‘s latest, The Holdovers, has done quite well on the September festival circuit, and Focus Features decided to give it a platform release and slower roll-out by putting it in six theaters in New York and L.A. this weekend. Starring Paul Giamatti, the period dramedy grossed an estimated $200,000 or $33,333 average per location. This will expand into 60 theaters on Friday and then be nationwide on Nov. 10.

Sofia Coppola‘s Priscilla, starring Cailee Spaeney and Jacob Elordi as Priscilla and Elvis Presley, also platformed on Friday in four theaters in New York and L.A. where it ended up with a similar $33k per-theater average as The Holdovers but only with $132,139 grossed its opening weekend.

Joining Priscilla‘s nationwide expansion on Friday will be a number of lower-key releases opening wide or semi-wide, including Lionsgate/Pantelion‘s Radical, starring Mexican superstar, Eugenio Derbez; Neil Burger‘s The Marsh King’s Daughter, starring Daisy Ridley; and Meg Ryan‘s What Happens Later, co-starring David Duchovny.

Weekend Box Office
Rank Entry Distributor Revenue Theater Count Total Revenue
1 Five Nights at Freddy’s Universal $80,001,720 3,675 $80,001,720
2 TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR AMC Theatres Distribution $15,433,113 3,773 $150,097,974
3 Killers of the Flower Moon Paramount Pictures $9,319,026 3,632 $40,998,109
4 After Death Angel Studios $5,051,950 2,645 $5,051,950
5 The Exorcist: Believer Universal $3,261,775 2,717 $59,527,605
6 PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie Paramount Pictures $2,332,124 2,746 $59,394,379
7 The Nightmare Before Christmas Walt Disney $2,140,633 2,185 $85,375,621
8 Freelance Relativity $2,086,000 2,057 $2,086,000
9 Saw X Lionsgate $1,764,053 2,141 $50,375,980
10 The Creator 20th Century Studios $1,024,456 1,685 $38,869,537
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.


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