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‘Prey For The Devil’ Earns $7 Million In Slow Halloween Weekend

The arrival last weekend of Black Adam and Ticket to Paradise was seen as the end of a slow post-Bullet Train period, one caused entirely by distributors not offering up a regular supply of (non-horror) big or at least big-ish theatrical releases. In truth, it was a brief boost amid a studio-caused slump that will continue until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11. It is another quiet weekend for newbies at the domestic box office, with one new wide release, a few Oscar season platform debuts, and some wide-release expansions.

The only new wide release was Lionsgate’s long-delayed Prey for the Devil. The PG-13 horror flick earned $7.025 million in 2,450 theaters, in line with cautiously optimistic forecasts. Considering the relative lack of buzz, expectedly lousy reviews (17% and 3.6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes), star-free cast and harsh scary season competition, this is almost halfway decent. The film, about the first female exorcist and her battles with a demon who tormented her as a child, got a C+ from Cinemascore, which is almost good for a low-profile horror flick. I expect it will be ancient history by the time it pops up on PVOD in a few weeks.

United Artists expanded Till into semi-wide release in its third frame. The acclaimed and Oscar-buzzy drama earned $2.81 million (+763%) in 2,058 theaters for a mediocre $1,366 per-theater average and $3.637 million 17-day total. A+ Cinemascore rating notwithstanding, unless it becomes a must-see film for Oscar watchers and related general audiences, and that could happen if Danielle Deadwyler gets a Best Actress nomination, we are looking at an under-$10 million domestic finish.

With all due respect, audiences wanting a big studio flick for/from/by/about empowered Black heroes will flock to the MCU sequel opening in two weeks. To be fair, and I say this with zero judgment, we saw likewise in 2016 when Nate Parker’s much-discoursed Birth of a Nation was ignored in favor of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington’s popcorn-y but righteously angry The Magnificent Seven remake.

Likewise, justifiably rave reviews and bemusing social media discourse aside, Cate Blanchett’s TÁR is not precisely mainstream entertainment. I would have said that in 1994 as well, as I am old enough to remember critics and pundits decrying the lack of theatrical business for Quiz Show and Ed Wood. At least back then folks were showing up for Pulp Fiction. The 2.5-hour melodrama about a world-famous and top-of-her-field conductor dealing with skeletons in her closet and/or chickens coming home to roost, expanded to 940 theaters on weekend three.

The Focus Features release earned $1.02 million (+104%) over the weekend. That gives the Best Actress frontrunner (for now) a mere $938 per-theater average and a $2.5 million 17-day total. Searchlight’s The Banshees of Inishin expanded to 59 theaters for a $540,000 (+193%) weekend and a $9,152 per-theater average. The acclaimed and quite lovely Brendan Gleeson/Colin Farrell melodrama has earned $790,760 in ten days. It’ll expand into 800 theaters next weekend. I highly recommend it.

Focus Features’ Armageddon Time debuted in five theaters yesterday to indifferent results. James Grey’s mostly acclaimed 80’s set melodrama stars Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins and at least tries to be a little less nostalgic than is usual for the sub-genre. I imagine if any (loosely autobiographical) coming-of-age drama breaks out commercially, it will be Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans over Thanksgiving weekend. Armageddon Time earned $72,000 over the weekend for a mere $12,000 per-theatre average.

Nobody is expecting big bucks from films like Triangle of Sadness ($2.28 million in 24 days), Aftersun ($166,030 in ten days) or Decision to Leave ($807,000 after 17 days). Never mind the over/under $70 million cumes of The Woman King or Everything Everywhere All at Once, I am curious which of this season’s awards contenders can at least make as much as David O. Russell’s mega-bomb Amsterdam ($14.6 million) or even Terrifier 2 ($7.6 million and rising).


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