'Halloween' Slices Up a Monster $77.5 Million Opening

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Universal Pictures said Sunday that "Halloween" took in an estimated $77.5 million in ticket sales from North American theaters. The flick is a direct sequel to the 1978 classic horror film of the same name in which the original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis returns in her role as Laurie Strode.

Halloween now ranks as the second-highest debut for an October release, set earlier this month by Venom.

"A lot of fans surely came out for the return of the real Michael Myers without any of the prior sequels" baggage and to watch Jamie Lee Curtis as a heavily armed survivor looking to kill her assailant of 40 years ago. 'Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead. 'Biggest Halloween opening ever'.

Heading into the weekend, Halloween had been projected to earn $70 million or more - a strong start for a film that cost about $10 million to make.

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She then wrapped things up with the hashtag #womengetthingsdone. Critics liked it a lot (80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and audiences dug it as well (the B+ Cinemascore is actually very high for a horror film). "A Star Is Born" pocketed another $19.3 million, while "Venom" follows close behind with $18.1 million for solid domestic totals of $126 million and $171 million, respectively. It picked up a solid $7.5 million, taking its total earnings to $10.5 million. A Star is Born continues to have wonderful legs, jumping above Venom and staying in second place with only a 32.2% drop from last weekend. The horror genre is one of the most enduring in Hollywood, even as the box office has become more challenging, with titles regularly breaching expectations.

Elsewhere, Fox Searchlight's "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", starring Melissa McCarthy, generated $150,000 when it opened in five locations, averaging a huge $30,000 per screen. The weekend was up almost 72 percent from the same weekend last October and the year to date is up almost 11 percent.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at USA and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. The picture represents another win for Blumhouse Productions and its distributor, Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures.