BO Report: ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ defies critics to deliver a monster start

'Five Nights at Freddy's'. (Photo: © 2023 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.)

Five Nights at Freddy’s easily boasts the best start for a horror film this year, having generated $6.2 million last weekend.

The Universal video game adaptation, released on 426 screens, comfortably landed at no. 1 at the box office, with its result also marking the best opening for a Blumhouse title in Australia. Overall, it captured a 54 market share, with an M-rating allowing a broader audience than is often available to some horrors in this market.

In North America, where it landed simultaneously on streamer Peacock, Freddy’s drew $US78 million, marking the second best opening weekend for a day-and-date release, behind Disney’s Black Widow ($US80 million in theatres).

Globally, the film – which has a reported production budget of $US20 million – has reached a whopping $US130 million already. While critics have panned it, audiences have clearly responded; it has a 26 per cent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes versus an 88 per cent audience score.

“The results of Five Nights at Freddy’s were amazing; we could see there was a lots of fans ready and waiting for the film, but it still exceeded even our highest expectations,” Village Cinemas head of content Geoff Chard tells IF.

“The WOM among the core fans is really good; a bit of a disconnect to the critics reviews but clearly that is not impacting the box office.”

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF Freddy’s was “an out of the box result”, but not totally unexpected “if you were in the know.”

“[It] accounted for two-thirds of our box office, and was spread right over the weekend as well, not just Sat night,” he says.

Wallis Cinemas head of programming services David Simpson notes it saw the strongest business from early days rather than evenings, with results in line with what it had envisioned.

The weekend’s other major release was Roadshow’s Dumb Money, directed by Australian Craig Gillespie and starring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and Vincent D’Onofrio. It earned $417,280 from 303 screens to come it at no. 4 behind Killers of the Flower Moon and Taylors Swift: The Eras Tour, or $597,341 with previews. That result puts it roughly on par with the US/Canada opening of $US3.5 million earlier this month, where it was considered a flop, hurt by the SAG-AFTRA strike. It has since gone on to earn $US13.8 million Stateside.

Australian animation Scarygirl, created by Nathan Jurevicius and directed by Ricard Cusso and Tania Vincent, bowed at no. 9. Madman released the film on 204 screens for $113,170, or $131,383 with previews.

Chard argues there should be decent weekend business for the local film before Trolls Band Together opens at the end of November.

Numero data puts the top 20 titles last weekend at $10.8 million, up 36 per cent on the previous.

Paramount’s Killers of the Flower Moon held much better in Australia than in the US across its second weekend, dropping just 38 per cent to $1.4 million; Stateside it fell 61 per cent to $US9 million. Chard puts the better hold in Australia down to the larger component of premium screens here. The Martin Scorsese film now stands at $4.3 million overall.

The 3.5 hour epic continues to outpace Trafalgar Releasing’s The Eras Tour, which took $1.3 million in its third frame, advancing to $7.2 million.

In fifth position behind Dumb Money was Paramount’s PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie, which is now at $7.9 million after six outings, having added $222,206 last weekend.

Universal’s The Exorcist: Believer rang up $215,223 in its fourth weekend to move to $3.1 million, while Disney’s The Creator took $173,794 in its fifth to advance to $5.2 million.

Saw X, distributed by Studiocanal, stands at $3.2 million, having added $114,172 in its fifth weekend, while Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is now at $10.2 million after earning $112,256 in its eighth.

Of the other Australian titles in the top 50, Label doco Mutiny in Heaven: The Birthday Party bowed to $20,219 from just seven screens. Directed by Ian White, the film has only opened in Melbourne cinemas so far, with other capital cities and regional towns to follow from this week onwards through November.

Madman’s Shayda earned $12,582 in its fourth weekend, moving to $288,151.

Now in its 14th weekend, Talk to Me is at $4.24 million for Maslow Entertainment, earning an extra $4,810.

Australian box office data is via Numero.