Halloween weekend (observed) was another dismal one for the U.S. domestic box office, falling an alarming 25 percent from the week before for one of the worst weekends in an already terrible year. A clearly puzzled Box Office Mojo attributes the fall to Netflix’s Stranger Things dampening the desire of horror fans to go out to the movies generally, and to see Saw seven-quel Jigsaw specifically. There may be something to that, although it’ll have to stay in the realm of speculation given Netflix’s policy of never revealing internal ratings numbers. But while prognosticators struggle to understand why Jigsaw fell short of expectations—even though it came in at No. 1 and made $16.25 million on a $10 million budget, plus an additional $9 million internationally, it couldn’t touch the big openings of the series’ earlier sequels—we’d like to offer up a far simpler explanation: Maybe people would go to the movies on Halloween weekend if there were any good horror movies out.
Three of this week’s top five are all horror, or at least horror-adjacent: Just after the so-so Jigsaw, Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween came in at No. 2, adding an additional $10 million to its haul, now totaling more than $35 million. That’s “well behind the first film,” as Box Office Mojo notes. The second film is also even more unpopular than the first with critics, coming in at 7 percent to the original Boo! A Madea Halloween’s 21 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Fool me once, get a sequel; fool me twice, fail to meet box-office expectations. That’s how the old phrase goes, right?
Anyway, the other horror title in this week’s top five is the not as bad, but still not very good Happy Death Day. That one dropped from No. 3 to No. 4 with a $5 million weekend gross, another disappointment given the film added an additional 237 screens last weekend. Those are all big winners compared to Amityville: The Awakening, though, whose one-night-only single theatrical outing made an embarrassing $742 in 10 theaters. That one makes sense, though, given that the film is currently streaming for free on Google Play, and has been for two weeks already.
It’s not as if the new non-horror options were much more inspiring: George Clooney’s Suburbicon, by all accounts an all-around disappointment, opened soft at No. 9, while the decent Iraq War PTSD drama Thank You For Your Service and the faith-based Let There Be Light, which The A.V. Club did not review but we imagine is pretty consistent with other faith-based dramas in content and quality, came in at No. 6 and No. 11 respectively. Further down the charts, the confusion over what the hell Blake Lively’s All I See Is You was all about was reflected in its No. 28 opening. The only film really killing it this past weekend did so in limited release: The Square, Ruben Östlund’s followup to Force Majeure, skewered $74, 233 worth of art-world pretensions on four screens for the week’s best per-screen average by far.
Next weekend, Thor: Ragnarok comes crashing through cinema walls, restoring things to the tentpole order