Brow Beat

Halloween Methodically, Relentlessly Murders Its Way to the Top of the Box Office

Michael Myers brandishes a butcher knife.
Run, A Star Is Born!
Ryan Green / Universal Pictures

Halloween, director David Gordon Green’s entry in the long-running horror franchise, has stabbed its way to the top of the weekend box office, pulling in an estimated weekend take of $77.5 million, according to Variety. That gives the Jamie Lee Curtis-starring slasher film the best opening weekend for any film in the series, easily besting the previous record holder, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, which earned $26.3 million on its opening weekend back in 2007. Adjusted for inflation, that’s just over $32 million today, which is to say: still a lot less than the newest Halloween just made.

In fact, the new film has already grossed more in raw dollars than any of the other ten Halloween films ever did, and is in fourth place for the franchise after one weekend after calculating for inflation. The highest inflation-adjusted grossing Halloween film remains the 1978 original, which has raked in $183.6 million in 2018 dollars, but even if the 2018 Halloween never surpasses that, the inflation-adjusted $83.9 million earned by 1981’s Halloween II and inflation-adjusted $107.2 million from 1998’s Halloween: H20 are within easy reach.

Halloween’s smash debut did pretty well compared to other non-Halloween films as well, at least in certain categories. It’s the second-highest debut for an R-rated horror film, coming in behind It (which makes it the highest debut for an R-rated horror film with a female lead) and the second highest opening weekend for an October release, landing just behind Venom.
Inflation doesn’t do much to those rankings, because wide opening weekends and reliable opening weekend data are all relatively recent phenomena, while R-rated horror and October openings are relatively small ponds.

For example, Halloween would have to gross more than $200 million more than it already in order to crack the top 300 all-time inflation-adjusted domestic grosses. Currently, #300 is The Silence of the Lambs, which only took in $13.8 million on its first weekend ($25.5 million in 2018 dollars, much less than Halloween), but went on to gross $130.7 million domestically before its theatrical run was finished ($283.8 million in 2018 dollars). The Silence of the Lambs opened wide for its day (1,497 theaters), but Halloween was working with more than twice as many places (3,928), which is why it’s easier for a recent film to have a record-breaking opening weekend than it used to be. Similarly, Halloween just had the best opening weekend for any Jamie Lee Curtis movie, inflation-adjusted or not, but it would have to keep making money long after Halloween is over to top True Lies’ nearly $320 million total inflation-adjusted domestic gross.

Abroad, Halloween carved out another $14.3 million, for a global opening of $91.8 million. Second place domestically went to A Star Is Born, which added $19.3 million to its $126.4 million total; Venom came in third with $18.1 million, for a total of $171.1 million. None of the weekend’s debuts besides Halloween opened wide: Jonah Hill’s Mid90s was #18, pulling $249,500 from 4 screens, while Can You Ever Forgive Me? earned $150,000 from 5 screens for 20th place.

To celebrate Halloween’s box office success, here is a 10 hour and 31 minute long video of the “Silver Shamrock” song from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. All you lucky kids with Silver Shamrock masks, gather round your computer monitor, put on your mask, and get ready for the big giveaway!