Blumhouse Body Swap Horror Comedy ‘Freaky’ Takes In $3.7M, On Par With Other No. 1 Pics During Fall Pandemic

(from left) The Butcher (Vince Vaughn) and Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) in Freaky, co-written and directed by Christopher Landon. Universal

SUNDAY AM Update: Universal/Blumhouse’s Freaky is coming in lower than expected at $3.7M after a $1.4M Saturday that dipped 6% from Friday’s $1.5M. With overseas totaling $1.9M from 20 territories, including Australia, Freaky‘s global start stands at $5.6M. It’s the 14th time that a Blumhouse movie has led the box office in the studio’s history. Blumhouse’s last No. 1 pic was The Invisible Man, with $28.2M before the pandemic threw the box office into the dumpster.

While Wall Street and exhibition stocks got excited about the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine in the near future, with the Pfizer trials at over a 90% effective rate, those good vibes weren’t seeping into the box office this past weekend. Moviegoers continued to be jarred by TV news chatter of increased lockdowns and record spikes across the country.

It’s clear, given the numbers, that the major studios aren’t investing in these movies, given the broken- down marketplace (17% of all U.S. theaters are closed). The No. 1 results for a movie since Columbus Day weekend are in the $3.6M-$4M range. Freaky is another example of this. It will be interesting to see if grosses are higher over Thanksgiving when the studio opens DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods: A New Age, which is part of the NBC Universal symphony marketing program. That pic is primed to get a proper blast across the conglom’s vertical tentacles, i.e. cable, TV networks, etc.

Also slowing business was word-of-mouth, despite Freaky notching an 85% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with Cinemascore at B-, and the PostTrak exits standing at 77% positive and a 54% definite recommend.

Freaky was rated R, despite looking like a PG-13 movie in its high school content and young cast, and thus drew 50/50 male-female, with 18-24 showing up at 36%, 25-34 at 27%, and 9% under 18. The 25 and older crowd repped 55% of all ticketholders. Twenty-two percent of Freaky‘s moviegoers came with a date while 20% took a friend, and another 20% went with 2-4 friends. Diversity demos for Freaky showed 44% Caucasian, 26% Hispanic, 20% African American, 5% Asian, and 5% Other. If this was a PG-13 horror film, Freaky would have skewed more toward younger females.

Top markets for Freaky were Los Angeles/Orange DMA, Dallas, surrounding NYC DMA, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, Philly, Atlanta and Detroit.

101 Studios

101 Studios’ My War With Grandpa now stands at $15.2M in its domestic tally in weekend 6, and has a good chance with Thanksgiving of making it to $20M. Even though the pic lost 203 locations, along with the Sacramento and San Diego cinema shutdowns, the movie only dipped -12%, which exceeded the distributor’s expectations. The Saturday to Saturday dip was only -5%, with $639K. Grandpa was notable in the West, Mountain, Midwest and East, with over-indexing markets being Salt Lake City, Houston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, Kansas City , Pittsburgh, Des Moines, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Milwaukee and Cincinnati.

Imani/Faith Media’s True to the Game 2 saw a 6% uptick in its 3-day grosses after a 34 theater uptick in its weekend 2 count. African American audiences gave this Jamal Hill-directed movie a boost. The movie is still in the top 10.

Warner Bros.

Five out of Tenet‘s top ten locations were drive-ins, even as it gets cold out there: 1. Starlight 4 Drive-In (Atlanta), 2. Paramount Drive-In (Greater LA DMA), 3. Van Buren 3 Drive-In (Greater LA DMA), 4. Mission Tiki 4 Drive-In (Greater LA DMA), 5. AMC Orange 30 (Greater LA DMA), 6. Cinemark Lincoln Sq. 22 (Seattle), 7. Capitol 6 Drive-In (San Francisco), 8. AMC Garden State 16 (Greater New York), 9. Cinemark San Francisco Centre 9 (San Francisco), and 10. Cinemark Huntington Beach Bella Terra 20 (Greater LA DMA). Tenet‘s top 10 DMA markets were: 1. San Francisco (~9% mkt share), 2. Orange County/Greater Los Angeles (~7% mkt share), 3. Seattle (~5% mkt share), 4.  Greater New York – NY/NJ/CT (~5% mkt share), 5. Dallas (~4% mkt share), 6. Salt Lake City (~3% mkt share), 7. Atlanta (~3% mkt share), 8. Houston (~3% mkt share), 9. Phoenix (~2% mkt share), and 10. Washington DC (~2% mkt share). The Christopher Nolan-directed movie is headed to $60M stateside.

Dino will weigh in more with indie box office. But a few shout-outs here, even though grosses in the arthouse sector are terribly low. It takes more theater bookings in the hundreds during the pandemic to make the usual box office we’re accustomed to seeing from these movies at a handful of NY and LA locations:


–Remember Relativity Media? Ya know, the once-great-then-distressed Ryan Kavanaugh studio? Well, they were back this weekend under its new Ultra V ownership with the period David Oyelowo-Gugu Mbatha Raw movie Come AwayUltra V acquired Relativity and the studio’s catalog in 2018 out of bankruptcy, and this was one of the first movies the new admin picked up under new management, plotting a theatrical VOD release.

Mike Polydoros’ PaperAirplane worked with Relativity on the release of the Brenda Chapman-directed feature (she did Pixar’s Brave). Booked at 475 runs in 126 markets, the movie did $108K, for a $227 per site result. Critics panned the PG film, which is a fantasy homage to Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland at 36% Rotten. Pic follows eight-year-old Alice and her mischievous brother Peter, who journey to London to sell a treasured heirloom. Returning home, Alice seeks temporary refuge in a wondrous rabbit hole, while Peter enters a magical realm as leader of the lost boys.

The Climb
‘The Climb’ Memento

–The Mel Gibson Santa Clause action fantasy movie Fatman did very little business with $108K at 259 sites, and a 41% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics. Pic hits VOD on Nov. 24.

–Sony Classics’ The Climb opened to $103.5K at 408 theaters, with a low theater average of $254 for this 91% certified fresh feature about an adult bromance from filmmaker Michael Angelo Covino. The pic made its world premiere at Cannes in 2019. One thing is for certain this coming awards season, and that is that a picture’s fate at the Oscars won’t be pre-determined by its box office results, and this one has a lot of amour.

–See-Saw/NEON’s Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan romance Ammonite saw 280 runs in 97 markets gross $85K or $304 per site. The movie arrives on PVOD in December. RT is low at 69% fresh.

Weekend top 10:

  1. Freaky (Uni) 2,472 theaters, 3-day $3.7M/Wk 1
  2. Let Him Go (Foc) 2,458  theaters (+4), 3-day: $1.8M (-55%)/Total: $6.9M/Wk 2
  3. War With Grandpa (101) 2,415 (-203) theaters, 3-day: $1.3M (-12%), Total: $15.2M/Wk 6
  4. Come Play (Foc) 1,966 (-247) theaters, 3-day: $1.1M (-39%), Total: $7.3M/Wk 3
  5. Honest Thief (Open) 1,843 (-374) theaters, 3-day: $800K (-30%), Total: $12.4M/Wk 6
  6. Tenet (WB) 1,223 theaters (-189) 3-day: $735K (-21%), Total: $56.3M/Wk 11
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy (Dis, re) 1,560 theaters, 3-day: $406K, total: $333.7M/Wk 1 of re-release
  8. True to the Game 2 (Faith Media) 281 theaters (+34), 3-day: $288K (+6%)/Total: $611K/Wk 2
  9. Toy Story (Dis) 1,360 theaters (-742), 3-day $222K (-56%), Total: $223.5M/Wk 2 of re-release
  10. Elf (NL) 288 theaters, 3-day: $170K , Total: $174.8M/Wk 1 of re-release
  11. The Last Shift (Sony) 135 theaters (+127) 3-day: $164,6K, Total: $804.6K/Wk 8

SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Universal/Blumhouse’s genre body swap comedy Freaky, starring Vince Vaughn, took in $1.45M yesterday, including Thursday night previews ~$200K, on what looks to be a $4M opening at 2,472 theaters.

Universal, the only major Hollywood studio putting out consistent fresh wide product during the pandemic, can claim a three-week streak at No. 1 between Focus’ Come Play over Halloween weekend, that label’s Let Him Go last weekend, and the parent studio’s Freaky this weekend.

Other benchmarks: Freaky reps the second No. 1 opening for Blumhouse this year after The Invisible Man, which debuted to $28.2M (Wow, that box office level feels like a 100 years ago). With Freaky, the last time star Vince Vaughn notched a No. 1 opening was with 2009’s Couples Retreat, also a Universal picture.

Freaky, like all of Uni and Focus’ recent releases, is part of the shortened theatrical window, PVOD share deal with AMC theaters.

The film, which is unusual for a comedy, notched an 84% certified fresh from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which would be golden during a normal marketplace. However, there’s a lot of distractions out there, with gloom and doom on the news as COVID-19 cases spike. Heading to the movie theater is just not a priority for a majority of people right now.

In addition, those who saw Freaky only gave it a B- on CinemaScore. Also impacting box office are certain exhibition markets being offline due to recent county government restrictions, i.e. San Diego and Sacramento, and Chicago is 40% open. While there was north of 3,500 theaters operating last weekend, we’re now under that mark coast-to-coast. There is concern that it’s just going to get worse in the next two weeks, with local governments rolling back cinemas into lower safety tiers (i.e. California). We’ll see.

In terms of the digital push for this $6M production, RelishMix says “Social reach for Freaky, playing Friday the 13th, has made its way up into normal pre COVID-19 ranges, with a 99.2M social media universe. This is boosted by Universal’s social channels totaling 41.4M, including Facebook (30M fans), Twitter (4.3M followers), YouTube main channel for Universal Pictures (3.9M subscribers), Instagram (3.2M followers) and Blumhouse’s social media channels (1.2M — which is very good for a production company).”

Video view activity on YouTube has clocked 47.5M for two owned trailers, plus 11 additional TV spots — and 10.8M views on Facebook for 20 videos, although the viral video reposting rate of 16:1 falls short of normal horror metrics of 27:1.

Heading into the weekend, buzz on social for Freaky was upbeat, per RelishMix, which reports there being “comparisons to body swapping comedy The Hot Chick starring Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams and many horror references to Happy Death Day, which was also directed by Freaky‘s Christopher Landon. Snarky yet positive, one person on social media says, ‘I was prepared to hate this trailer…now I definitely want to see this.'”

Freaky star Kathryn Newton is leading the charge on social media in pushing the pic to her 1.4M Instagram followers; Vaughn reportedly doesn’t have any public social media channels:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by KATHRYN NEWTON (@kathrynnewton)

Let Him Go at 2,458 (+4) locations drew $560K yesterday, -62%, for what is looking like a weekend 2 of $1.8M, -55%, for a 10-day of $6.9M.

101 Studios’ The War With Grandpa in weekend 6 is in play at 2,145 sites (-203) with a Friday of $336K, -16%, on its way to a 3-day of $1.2M, repping a 19% dip and a running total of $15.1M. I hear the movie is being primed further to play through Thanksgiving in an effort to capitalize on family crowds.

Come Play is in 4th place in weekend 3 at 1,966 (-247) with $330K yesterday, -39%, and a 3-day of $1.08M, -40%, and running total of $7.3M.

Open Road’s Honest Thief in weekend 6 saw a Friday of $240K, -32%, in what looks like a 3-day of $775K, -32% for a running tally stateside of $12.3M.

Warner Bros.’ Tenet may upset the current top 5 here once the studio reports tomorrow. Last weekend, Tenet ranked 5th, earning $905K, +2%, for a running total of $55.1M. Box office analysts believe the Christopher Nolan movie has a shot at $60M domestic, which, based off its 11-day opening of $20.2M, is a near 3x multiple at the domestic B.O. (6x if you figure the movie earned $9.7M over its first 3-days; we don’t know, as Warners still isn’t sharing the box office figures in Comscore with other distributors).

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