Scream, a reimagining of a horror franchise that appeared to have run out of steam, dominated the North American box office, earning a scary good US$30.6 million.
The sequel is projected to earn US$35 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, a spectacular result considering that Scream only cost US$25 million to produce. It also represents some positive news for the bruised and battered cinema industry, considering that Scream’s success comes amid a spike in COVID-19.
It helps that Scream’s target demographic is younger, which means that they may not have been as spooked by the highly contagious Omicron variant that is fuelling the latest iteration of a seemingly endless pandemic.
Paramount and Spyglass Media backed the reboot, which marks the first new chapter in the Scream series in a decade and shares a title with the 1996 original – the Scream saga is apparently so over integers. The film also brings back familiar faces such as Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, who are once again haunted by a serial killer in a Ghostface mask. Scream debuted in 3,664 locations.
And while Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home was forced to surrender its box office crown for the first time since it opened in December, the superhero sequel still managed to put up some superb results. The film is projected to have a four-day result of US$26 million. With more than US$700 million in the bank, Spider-Man: No Way Home will now become the fourth-highest grossing North American release in history, behind only Avatar (US$760 million), Avengers: Endgame (US$858 million) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (US$936 million). The popularity of the film is so out-sized that it was even name-checked during SNL this weekend with President Biden (played by comedian James Austin Johnson) urging people to stop seeing Spider-Man in order to check the spread of Omicron.
The opening weekend result for Scream is in the neighbourhood of the inaugural results for other pandemic era horror hits such as Halloween Kills (US$49.4 million debut and A Quiet Place Part II (US$47.5 million). It also represents a major improvement on 2011’s Scream 4 which opened to a dispiriting US$19.3 million. Unlike other movies released during COVID, Scream’s low budget means it will have some impressive profit margins – films like Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings and No Time to Die have led the box office, but their high cost meant they lost money during their theatrical releases at a time when ticket sales are depressed.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct Scream, taking over the series from its founder Wes Craven, the horror maestro who died in 2015. Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid and Dylan Minnette round out the cast of the horror sequel.
Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Sing 2 captured third place on the domestic box office chart, earning US$8.3 million. The film is projected to earn US$11 million over the four-day holiday, which will bring its haul to US$122.1 million. Another Universal release, The 355, nabbed fourth place, earning US$2.3 million. The spy thriller is a commercial dud. It will end the four-day weekend with US$2.8 million, which will bring its haul to a disastrous US$8.9 million. Don’t hold your breath for The 356.