Emma Tammi's Five Nights At Freddy's has seemed destined for box office success. While the movie hasn't exactly gotten a kind reception from critics, the fanbase for the videogame franchise is young, large, and passionate – unlikely to be dissuaded from seeing the feature based on early reactions. Acknowledging this, it's not a shocking development that the film just had one of the biggest opening weekends of 2023... but it's also impossible not to wonder how much bigger it could have been without a simultaneous streaming release.
The early weekend box office numbers are in, so check out the new Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.
Was A Nine-Figure Domestic Opening Weekend Possible For Five Nights At Freddy's Without The Day-And-Date Streaming Decision?
Let's start with the positives to take away from what happened in theaters this weekend, shall we? Approximately half-a-year after developing a big win in the form of Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic's The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Universal Pictures now has its second video game adaptation success of 2023 with Five Nights At Freddy's.
Produced by Blumhouse Productions, the horror-centric studio famous for making scary movies with low-budgets, the film has made $78 million in its first three days of release in the United States and Canada (per The Numbers), and that performance puts it in the upper echelon for 2023. That's the ninth biggest opening weekend of the year so far – the title sitting just behind Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer in eighth place ($82.5 million) and Chad Stahelski's John Wick: Chapter 4 in tenth ($73.8 million). The movie was made for just $20 million, according to Deadline, and worldwide, it has already brought in $130.6 million in ticket sales.
This is another healthy development for the theatrical industry, which has now gotten significant boosts from spooky season two years in a row. Horror continues to hit well in 2023, and there is now every expectation that Five Nights At Freddy's will become a significant big screen title in the years to come.
The unignorable bugaboo in the situation is Universal's decision to not let the popular new film be a theatrical exclusive release. On the same day that The Super Mario Bros. Movie arrived on the big screen back in April, producer Jason Blum announced on Twitter that the studio was deploying a strategy for Five Nights At Freddy's that would match what was done for David Gordon Green's last two Halloween sequels: in addition to being available on the big screen, the video game adaptation would simultaneously stream on Peacock.
Because studios don't disclose streaming numbers, we don't know how many people signed up for new Peacock subscriptions or ended up streaming the movie in the last three days (it may have been a big boost for the service), but it's also difficult to not look at the situation from a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" perspective. Certainly there must be a significant number of movie-goers who would have gone to see it on the big screen but opted for the more convenient avenue instead.
In addition to there being a question about how much money in ticket sales was sacrificed for the Peacock streaming option, there is also the matter of second weekend performance. In general, day-and-date theatrical/streaming releases tend to be frontloaded because the most passionate fans see the movie on opening weekend, and then everybody else just opts to watch it online in subsequent weeks. Take the Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends as examples. They both had solid, $40 million-plus opening weekends, but the former saw its ticket sales plummet 71 percent weekend-to-weekend following its debut in October 2021, and the latter sank 80 percent one year later.
The aforementioned passionate fanbase for Five Nights At Freddy's may ultimately help the film get better second weekend results, but there are two other factors working against the release: the negative reaction from critics may prevent the film from earning the curiosity of those who otherwise might be disinterested, and any boost the movie is getting from Halloween evaporates when the holiday plays out on Tuesday.
As you can probably guess, I will definitely return to this discussion in my box office column next Sunday.
Killers Of The Flower Moon Stays Behind Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour As It Slips To Third Place
Being the big new wide release, Five Nights At Freddy's was always going to be the new number one movie domestically in the final weekend of October – but that left questions about the biggest titles from last weeks Top 10. While you might think that the younger-skewing new horror film might have taken a bigger bite out of Sam Wrench's Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, it was Martin Scorsese's Killers Of The Flower Moon that had the more significant dip.
Last weekend, Killers Of The Flower Moon had the best start for a Scorsese movie since Shutter Island hit the big screen in 2010, bringing in $23.3 million, but its weekend-to-weekend numbers aren't terrific. The movie, which has been dubbed one of the legendary filmmaker's best works, took a 61 percent dip and added only $9 million to its domestic haul over the last three days. Worldwide, the film has made $51.6 million to date... which is not amazing when one considers that COVID-related delays caused the production's budget to be in the $200 million range (according to Variety).
As for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the release is now simply padding its hold on the record for biggest concert film of all time. With another $14.7 million added in domestic ticket sales, the release has now made over $203 million globally, which is more than double what Jon M. Chu's Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (the previous record holder) made during its entire theatrical run in 2011).
What will happen to Five Nights At Freddy's, Killers Of The Flower Moon, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and the rest of the Top 10 when the calendar flips over to November and Sofia Coppola's Priscilla arrives in wide release? Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday to find out – and you can discover all of the titles set to arrive in theaters and streaming in what remains of the year with our 2023 Movie Release Calendar.