Halloween Goes “Bumps” Into the Box Office
By John Hamann
October 18, 2015
It’s starting to look a little spooky at the box office, as we have two films aimed at capturing the Halloween experience two weekends before the kids go trick or treating.
You can tell it’s Halloween season. This weekend, two films on the scary side open, in the form of Goosebumps for kids, families and the young at heart, and Crimson Peak, which is definitely not for kids. Next weekend, two more arrive - Vin Diesel’s The Last Witch Hunter and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Then, on October 30th, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse debuts, but that is a big mistake, as Halloween lands on that Saturday, and horror films shrivel like shrunken heads after October 31st. This weekend, in addition to the two scarier titles, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies opens, as does the faith-based Woodlawn. With The Martian and Hotel Transylvania 2 over-performing, the box office had the potential to keep its hot streak going.
For the first time in a couple of weekends, we have a new number one film, as The Martian finally relents. The new number one film is Goosebumps, Sony’s youthful fright feature based on the series of books by R.L. Stine. Kid-lit is the way of the junior world these days, and Goosebumps and Sony tapped right into that. After a small Thursday preview amount that came in at less than a million, Goosebumps got started in earnest on Friday, when it earned $7.3 million. This is a solid – but not spectacular – start for this effects-driven film, but for a movie that cost "only" $58 million, it spells success. It received a solid A Cinemascore, and combined with a 73% fresh RottenTomatoes rating, Sony should have a couple of solid weekends heading toward Halloween.
On Saturday, the film that features Jack Black, Amy Ryan, a bunch of kids and R.L. Stine himself pulled in a strong $9.8 million, pushing it toward a weekend total of $23.5 million, which is about where tracking had it. While not a huge opening frame, remember that it's October, and the best for the month tops out at $55 million. This type of debut pushes Goosebumps toward the top 30 films of all time for the 10th month, of which half are sequels. Goosebumps could see as much as $75 million stateside, and given the effects-driven nature of the film, it could play well overseas. For Jack Black, who wasn’t used as much of a selling point on this one, this is his best non-animated opening since Tropic Thunder, which earned $25.8 million over its opening frame back in 2008.
Second spot goes to The Martian, the Matt Damon/Ridley Scott space thriller that has been box office champ for the last two weekends. After its $37 million second frame, The Martian held decently, but not as well as its 32% drop last weekend. Given the addition of three new releases that ate up $50 million in box office, The Martian’s weekend take of $21.5 million has to be seen as a success. It fell 42% compared to last weekend but brought its total up to $143.8 million. The Martian cost $108 million to make, and should still finish within arm’s reach of $200 million. Overseas, the Fox release has earned a similar amount, so it should be heading to a half-billion worldwide gross before all is said and done.