Box Office: ‘Insidious: The Last Key’ Unlocks $12.7M Friday.
There was just one new release this weekend, so this post will cover that new release and the newsworthy expansions. The holdover Friday box office will arrive later this morning.
Well, we’re probably getting an Insidious: Chapter 5 in a few years. The fourth entry in Blumhouse’s haunted house franchise got 2018 off to a fine start, earning a whopping $12.743 million last night, including $1.9m in Thursday previews. That’s a bigger opening day than Insidious: Chapter 3 ($10m in 2015) although obviously smaller than the $20m Friday for Insidious: Chapter 2 back in 2013. This puts the film on course for a $25m Fri-Sun debut, which is huge for the $10m horror sequel. It is the fourth film in the nearly seven-year-old horror franchise, one which put Blumhouse on the map and allowed James Wan to reinvent horror for the second time in his career.
The Universal/Comcast Corp. release, which is a prequel to the first Insidious but a sequel to the third Insidious, centers Lin Shaye’s elderly ghostbuster in a story that deals with her family trauma and her origins as a professional spook-hunter. Adam Robitel is directing from a screenplay again by Leigh Whannell (who wrote/directed Insidious: Chapter 3 back in 2015 after the first two James Wan-directed installments). It continues an unofficial tradition whereby the first weekend of the new year is anchored by a low-budget horror movie. And, presuming the movie hits $25m as expected, it’ll be the biggest opening for one of these “first out of the gate” chillers since The Devil Inside ($33m) back in 2012.
And sometimes the ups-and-downs of that release can be determined by how popular the late-year horror titles of the previous year were. For example, when Paranormal Activity 3 went huge in October of 2011, The Devil Inside got a boost from prominent trailer displays for its eventual whopping $33m debut weekend in January of 2012. Conversely, a lower-profile Paranormal Activity 4 led (partially) to a lower $22m debut for Texas Chainsaw 3D. It’s not a one-to-one correlation, but it’s something I’ve tried to notice over the years.
In this case, I’d argue it’s partially about the lack of horror movies since Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day back in mid-October. That well-liked kid-targeted horror comedy earned $115 million worldwide on a $5m budget, but it (and It) provided prime pre-movie trailer real estate space for the Insidious: The Last Key marketing campaign. Credit also goes, obviously, to the popularity of the Insidious franchise and the overall Blumhouse brand coming off of a boffo 2017. Yeah, this one won’t have much in the way of legs, but you don’t need legs when you’re a $10m horror film opening to $25m.
The only other major release this weekend is STX’s semi-wide (1,608 theaters) expansion of Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game. The Jessica Chastain/Idris Elba drama, about a woman running an underground poker game, is hoping to capitalize on strong reviews and solid buzz as it awaits its Oscar fate. It earned $2.28 million yesterday for a likely $6.84m Fri-Sun frame. That gives it a promising $14m domestic cume. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the true-life drama cost $30m to produce, but STX paid $9m for the distribution rights in North America and China. So unless this drops dead, and it probably won’t, STX will have its third solid hit in a row after The Foreigner and A Bad Moms Christmas.
In other expansion news, Focus Features expanded Darkest Hour into 1,733 theaters this weekend, but didn’t get much of a bump. Still, the Gary Oldman-as-Winston Churchill biopic made $1.819 million (+4%) on Friday for a likely $5.955m (+9%) weekend and $28m domestic cume. That’s an already decent sum for a movie like this. Neon and 30West expanded I, Tonya into 242 theaters after the holiday and snagged a promising $701k (+238%) Friday. That positions the Margot Robbie-as-Tonya Harding biopic for a $2.265m (+271%) weekend and $4.837m domestic cume. That’s not a barn-burning total, but it has already surpassed Ingrid Goes West ($3.024m) and Colossal ($3.029m) to become Neon’s biggest domestic grosser.
Steven Spielberg’s The Post expanded to 36 theaters this weekend, in advance of its wide expansion over the MLK holiday. The Meryl Streep/Tom Hanks period piece drama, from 20th Century Fox, about the Washington Post and the Pentagon Papers, earned $496,000 (+189%) on Friday for a likely $1.57 million (+180%) weekend and $3.719m domestic total. That’s a great $43.6k per-theater average, but the real test is when it expands into wide release. Finally, Focus expanded Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread into six theaters and snagged a $63k (-11%) Friday for a $210k (-3%) weekend and promising $35k per-theater average. Once again, the real test will come outside the arthouse, when this Daniel Day Lewis dramedy expands on Jan. 19.