It was something of a surprise when news broke, a couple of weeks back, that David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills would be getting a hybrid release this October. Horror films are usually box office candy—Green’s first Halloween movie made its budget back roughly 17 times over when it was released in theaters back in 2018—so the decision to place that film’s sequel simultaneously on Universal’s Peacock, on the same night it hit theaters (October 15), has been a bit baffling to try to parse.
Speculation for the move has ranged from suggestions that it might be a reaction to the movie’s mixed reviews from its Venice Film Festival premiere (unlikely, given the timing involved), to assumptions that Universal was willing to eat some theatrical losses in order to send viewers over to Peacock’s premium tiers, to simple COVID-era reticence.
As it turns out, though, the decision didn’t come from Universal at all; it came from Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, and it’s all Freaky’s fault.
This is per a recent interview Blum gave to Collider, where he laid out how the poor performance of the Vince Vaughn Freaky-Friday-as-a-slasher flick, which flopped despite a strong critical reception, soured him on risking another theatrical run during a still-extant pandemic:
It was my idea to do it. [Peacock] didn’t approach me. I approached them. I, like everyone else, am a big believer in the theatrical experience. I think eventually I think there should be windows. I think Universal’s strategy of the three-week window is a great strategy, but I had a bad distribution experience with Freaky. That movie is a great movie, and it didn’t get seen because the distribution of it got all twisted up. My fault.
Freaky made a meager 16 million at the box office in November 2020, largely on account of…well, on account of being released exclusively in theaters in November 2020. Last year saw a great many studios playing hopscotch with release dates in an effort to not own the movie that proved theater audiences weren’t ready to come back to the movies just yet, and Blum and his film were one of the big losers of that game.
Hence a little bet-hedging:
I didn’t want to go through that experience again. I didn’t want to have a movie that I’m really proud of that I think is great and have there be an excuse why people didn’t see it. So I’m the one who pitched Universal. And then I pitched Jamie and David, and it was my idea. I stand behind it. I’m glad that we’re doing it.