Box Office: ‘Scream VI’ Scares Up Franchise-Best $44 Million Debut

“Scream VI” collected $44.5 million in its opening weekend, a scary-good start for Paramount and Spyglass Media’s long-running slasher series.

Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts over two newcomers, Sony’s prehistoric sci-fi thriller “65” and the Focus Features heartwarming comedy “Champions,” as well as last weekend’s victor “Creed III.”

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The initial haul for “Scream VI” is frighteningly strong for the sixth installment in a franchise. Not only did it greatly improve upon the start of last year’s hit reboot “Scream,” which scored with $30 million, but it crushed the series’ opening weekend record, previously set by 2000’s “Scream 3” with $34 million. “Scream VI” cost $35 million, so it’ll easily turn a profit in its theatrical run.

“It’s extraordinary to have this type of result after six films,” says Chris Aronson, Paramount’s president of domestic distribution. “We blew away the opening of the last ‘Scream.’ That doesn’t happen.”

The R-rated “Scream VI” added another $22.6 million from 53 international markets, bringing its global tally to $67.1 million.

“Reviews and audience scores are very good, and international business should be solid,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “27 years after launching in 1996, the franchise is healthier than ever.”

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, “Scream VI” follows survivors of Ghostface’s murders as they leave Woodsboro behind for a fresh start in New York City. (Good luck with that…) Courteney Cox, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega and Hayden Panettiere return for the film, which is the first installment without Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott. The actor departed the film because she felt “the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise.” Opening weekend audience members skewed slightly male (51%), while 71% were between the ages of 18-24.

The latest “Scream” continues a solid March at the box office, which looks to continue with “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” (March 17), “John Wick: Chapter 4” (March 24) and “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” (March 31).

“Moviegoing begets moviegoing,” says Aronson. “We’re seeing that right now.”

In second place, “Creed III” scored $27.1 million from 4,007 North American theaters, a 53% decline from last weekend’s stellar $59 million debut. After just two weekends on the big screen, the sports drama — directed by and starring Michael B. Jordan — has crossed the coveted $100 million mark. Based on current estimates, “Creed III” looks to end its theatrical run with approximately $150 million in North America, which is significantly ahead of the first film ($109 million) and the second ($115 million).

Internationally, “Creed III” has amassed $78 million, bringing its global total to $179 million.

“65” landed at No. 3 with $12.3 million from 3,405 cinemas, a start that’s above initial seven-digit expectations, but still rocky for a $45 million-budgeted film. Adam Driver stars in “65” as a pilot who crash-lands on a mysterious planet that happens to be Earth… 65 million years ago.

Negative reviews (a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes) and poor audience scores (it holds a weak “C+” Cinemascore) may not help in terms of word-of-mouth beyond opening weekend. Bron and TSG co-financed the film, which will help mitigate potential losses in its theatrical run.

“This is a soft opening for an original sci-fi action film,” says Gross. He adds, “These movies do well overseas and ’65’ can make up some ground abroad. […] But ’65’ is unlikely to be profitable after counting all related costs.”

“Champions” debuted in sixth place with a mediocre $5.1 million from 3,030 locations. Directed by Bobby Farrelly, “Champions” follows Woody Harrelson as a temperamental minor-league basketball coach who ends up mentoring a team of players with intellectual disabilities to fulfill a community service requirement. Lucky for the studio, ticket buyers — 56% were female and 83% were 25 or older — seemed to like the film (which scored an “A” Cinemascore) compared to critics (it has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes).

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Cocaine Bear” rounded out the top five on domestic box office charts.

Marvel’s third superhero adventure to spotlight the tiniest Avenger has added $7 million from 3,105 theaters in its fourth weekend of release. So far, “Quantumania” has generated $198 million in North America, outpacing the original “Ant-Man” ($180 million) and just trailing the 2018 sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($216 million).

But at the global box office, “Ant-Man 3” has grossed $447.6 million and may end its run as the lowest-grossing “Ant-Man” installment, trailing the first movie’s $519 million haul and the follow-up’s $622 million bounty.

Universal’s horror-comedy “Cocaine Bear” took fifth place with $6.2 million from 3,204 venues in its third weekend in theaters. The blood-splattered animal adventure, directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring a bear on (you guessed it) cocaine, has generated a solid $51.6 million domestically and $65 million worldwide to date.

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