“Five Nights at Freddy’s,” Universal and Blumhouse’s terrifying adaptation of the popular video game, made a killing in its box office debut with $80 million in North America and $132 million globally.
For a $20 million-budgeted horror film that landed simultaneously on streaming (in this case, the NBCUniversal-owned service Peacock), these ticket sales would have been significant by the end of its theatrical run. In just three days of release, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has already surpassed the entire global haul of 2022’s “Halloween Ends” ($104 million) and will soon overtake 2021’s “Halloween Kills” ($133 million) — which previously ranked as the biggest hybrid releases from Universal and Peacock. And unlike “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” those slasher films were sequels in a time-tested film franchise.
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“Every studio should be taking note. This can be a game-changer, and another clear blueprint, for event-level horror films [and] game adaptations,” says Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice Pro, pointing to the communal appeal of horror films. “‘FNAF’ has become a cult classic over the past decade with a young and passionate fanbase that represents an important segment of the up-and-coming generation of moviegoers.”
Josh Hutcherson stars in the horror film, which follows a nighttime security guard at a family entertainment center called Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. But he finds out the hard way that it’s not exactly Chuck E. Cheese because, well, these animatronic mascots are prone to murder. A movie version of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has been in the works since 2015, but Jason Blum’s company Blumhouse finally cracked the code. Box office analysts believe the PG-13 rating and prime Halloween release date also worked in its favor.
“It’s so fun when it works,” Blum wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Thank you all so much for being patient with us on ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s.” We wanted to get it just right for the fans. That’s all we were focused on.”
Audiences have responded enthusiastically to the film (which landed an A- CinemaScore), unlike unimpressed critics (it has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes). However, that kind of discrepancy usually doesn’t matter for the horror genre. Word of mouth could prevent the second-weekend slump that usually plagues scary movies. But either way, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” is already in the company of “The Nun II” ($85 million), “M3GAN” ($95 million) and “Scream VI” ($108 million) as the highest-grossing horror films of the year.
In addition to its box office riches, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has been the most-watched and biggest subscription driver since on Peacock since it dropped on Oct. 26. However, Peacock has far fewer subscribers than rivals like Disney+ and Netflix, and the streamer didn’t provide metrics to back up these accolades.
Some analysts believe a hybrid release leaves money on the table. “The premium experience of watching a horror film is sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a dark room, jumping, gasping and laughing with a roomful of strangers,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “The audience that watches it at home this weekend will not get that experience, and their ticket sale will be lost.”
With “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” it didn’t appear to stop too many fans from buying tickets. Here are all the box office records set by “Five Nights at Freddy’s” in its opening weekend, according to Universal:
Highest-grossing opening weekend for Blumhouse, surpassing 2018’s “Halloween” ($76.22 million)
19th Blumhouse film to open in first place at the domestic box office
Biggest opening weekend of the year for a horror film, overtaking “Scream VI” ($44 million)
Second-largest debut of all time for a video game adaptation, behind “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” ($146.3 million)
Tied for best opening weekend for a day-and-date streaming release, with Disney’s 2021 Marvel adventure “Black Widow” ($80 million in theaters and $60 million on Disney+)
Biggest opening weekend ever for Universal and Peacock’s hybrid releases, beating the slasher sequels, 2021 “Halloween Kills” ($49 million) and 2022’s “Halloween Ends” ($40 million)
Highest-grossing opening weekend for Halloween weekend release, outperforming 2011’s “Puss in Boots” ($34 million)
Third-biggest debut for any horror film, trailing 2017’s “It” ($123 million) and 2019’s “It: Chapter Two” ($91 million)
Best debut ever for PG-13 horror film, besting 2001’s “The Mummy Returns” ($68 million)
Second-biggest horror opening of the year after “The Nun II” ($52.7 million)
Biggest horror opening of 2023, ahead of “The Nun II” ($88.1 million)
Highest-grossing Blumhouse global opening of all time, ahead of “Halloween” ($91.8 million)
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