By Bloomberg
October 21, 2018

An eagerly awaited new “Halloween” movie killed it at the box office, setting weekend records for the popular slasher genre of horror films.

Reuniting Jamie Lee Curtis and the world created by horror filmmaker John Carpenter, the film collected an estimated $77.5 million in theaters in the U.S. and Canada, ComScore Inc. said in an email Sunday. That easily beat the old record for a slasher movie, set in 2009 by a reboot of the “Friday the 13th” series, and keeps the industry on a record path for October.

“Halloween” was one of the most anticipated films of the year because it featured well-known figures from the 1978 original. The horror genre is one of the most enduring in Hollywood, even as the box office has become more challenging, with titles regularly breaching expectations. The picture represents another win for Blumhouse Productions and its distributor, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

In “Halloween,” Curtis plays Laurie Strode, reprising the role that made her famous in a final face-off with Michael Myers. The sequel picks up four decades after she narrowly escaped the masked murderer’s killing spree from the first installment. The film focuses on Strode dealing with the fallout from the trauma of those events, having become a recluse.

The movie cost just $10 million to make, before marketing costs, and was projected to debut to as much as $70 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The studio had expected an opening north of $50 million. Earlier in the month, superhero movie “Venom” was the biggest-ever October debut, with $80.3 million.

The horror flick beat an opening weekend record for slasher movies set by the 2009 reboot of “Friday the 13th,” which brought in $40.6 million. It is also the biggest installment from the franchise and biggest debut for a R-rated horror feature, according to Box Office Mojo. More than 80 percent of critics recommended the movie, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

Even with a strong female lead, Blumhouse faced a backlash to comments of founder Jason Blum, who in an interview cited a lack of female directors to explain why none of his films were directed by women. On Thursday, the prolific producer apologized and said he had misspoken about a topic he felt passionate about. The executive, known for making “Paranormal Activity” a billion-dollar franchise, said he was talking with many female directors in the wake of the controversy.

“The Hate U Give,” about a wrongful shooting by a police officer, was the only other new movie in wide release, expanding to more than 2,300 theaters. It placed sixth with $7.5 million after almost unanimous recommendations from critics.

Amandla Stenberg features as Starr Carter, a teenager who witnesses the wrongful shooting of her friend by a police officer. Regina Hall and Common also star. The film from 21st Century Fox Inc.’s Fox 2000 Pictures cost $23 million to make, before marketing costs, and it matched predictions for its first wide-release weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. The film started a limited run Oct. 5.

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