The coronavirus pandemic, which delayed “Halloween Kills” from its originally scheduled opening last October, is ongoing. That, plus the fact that the film is debuting on streaming as it hits theaters, could undoubtedly eat into ticket sales.
Yet, Jim Orr, the president of domestic theatrical distribution for Universal, believes the film can work on the big screen, even though it’s debuting on the small screen simultaneously.
“It’s Halloween. I guess everyone’s entitled to one good scare”
“People love to be scared together,” Orr told CNN Business. “The horror genre really lends itself to the communal experience that you can really only get when you’re in theaters.”
That is why haunted houses do big business when Halloween rolls around. And “Halloween Kills” is the theatrical equivalent of a haunted house: People pay to scream together in the dark as a ghostly boogeyman terrifies them.
“When you’re watching a horror film, part of the fun, part of the experience is the reaction of those around you as well,” Orr noted. “It lends itself to the film, it lends itself to the experience and makes it bigger than it otherwise would be with just yourself or your immediate family sitting on the couch.”
He added that Universal is ultimately about “finding the customer where they are” and that by putting the film on streaming, it allows “others that are not comfortable, for whatever reason, in being in theaters” to watch it on Peacock as an option.
Another thing that “Halloween Kills” has working in its favor in theaters this weekend is that horror is one of the box office’s most reliable genres.
This year has been no different.
“You can’t kill the boogeyman”
For decades, the genre has frightened people into going to the movies, and even as streaming has grown in power, horror hasn’t slowed down in the ticket sales department.
“Halloween” is one of the most popular franchises in horror history, so it could easily follow the same track this weekend, or even exceed expectations. That said, bad reviews (it has a 45% score on Rotten Tomatoes) could scare audiences away. Also, sporadic moviegoing has made predicting the box office week to week more difficult than killing Michael Myers.
Even if consumers choose to stay home and watch the film on Peacock, that’s a win for NBCUniversal too (but not so much for theaters).
This is because Peacock is a somewhat new service, having debuted in July 2020, and it mostly lags behind the Netflix’s and Disney+’s of the world, which have 209 million and 116 million subscribers, respectively. Peacock has 54 million sign-ups and 20 million monthly active accounts.
Offering a film from the iconic “Halloween” franchise” could give a boost to Peacock’s overall user base and give some much-needed attention to the nascent service.
No matter what happens at the box office or on Peacock this weekend, “Halloween” will live on. In fact, Universal has already announced the next film in the series, “Halloween Ends,” which is due out in theaters next year.