Will ‘Scream’ Scare ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Off the Box Office Throne?

·4-min read

Amid the Omicron surge, the box office revenue from this Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend will be a fraction of what it was in pre-pandemic years (remember those?). But Paramount will try to find some low-budget horror success with the return of “Scream,” the late Wes Craven’s hit ’90s horror series that deconstructed the tropes of the slasher genre — and that could end the month-long reign of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” atop the box office charts.

Independent tracking has “Scream” earning $30-35 million over the extended four-day holiday weekend, while Paramount is anticipating a more modest opening in the $20 million range. That would put it on target to topple Sony/Marvel’s “Spider-Man,” which earned $33 million over the last three-day weekend — enough for it to pass the domestic total of “Avengers: Infinity War” to join the top five highest grossing films in U.S. history. As of Monday, “No Way Home” has a total of $670 million in U.S. and Canada and $1.53 billion worldwide and is expected to make $16-19 million over the coming four-day weekend.

While “Spider-Man” is trying to become the first movie since “Black Panther” in 2018 to earn five No. 1 weekends, “Scream” seems poised to take over the No. 1 spot — despite being the first major post-holiday film to hit theaters at a time when Omicron has pushed COVID-19 infection rates to record highs.

“The fifth “Scream” film — and the first not directed by Craven, who died in 2015, but by the horror filmmaker duo of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett — is expected to see its biggest appeal from Gen X audiences who saw the 1996 original as teens and college students and who sit between the 18-35 demo that has most reliably bought tickets this past year (as seniors mostly stayed home).

A “Scream” launch in the $30 million range would be comparable to the 2013 debut of “Mama,” another horror film from “It” director Andy Muschietti that earned a $32 million over MLK Day weekend. Even meeting Paramount’s more conservative expectations would put it above the $21 million five-day opening of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix Resurrections,” another revival of a late 90s IP that came out amidst the Omicron surge.

Of course, there are some key differences between “Scream” and “Resurrections,” most notably that while the latter released simultaneously on HBO Max, Paramount is releasing “Scream” in theaters only for 45 days before making it available on Paramount+.

And while the meta, self-reflecting nature of “Matrix Resurrections” polarized critics and audiences, early reviews for “Scream” have been more favorable with an 80% Rotten Tomatoes score. Since hardcore “Scream” fans will come in expecting deconstruction and meta jokes — as well as original series David Arquette, Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell reprising their roles alongside a new generation of teens being hunted by a new Ghostface killer, — they’re more likely to be pleased with the film’s attempts to needle its status as a horror franchise revival and give it stronger word-of-mouth than what “Matrix” had.

Of course, Paramount is releasing “Scream” exclusively in theaters for 45 days before making it available on Paramount+. And while the meta, self-reflecting nature of “Matrix Resurrections” polarized critics and audiences, early reviews for “Scream” have been more favorable with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes score. Since hardcore “Scream” fans will come in expecting deconstruction and meta jokes, they’re more likely to be pleased with the film’s attempts to needle its status as a horror franchise revival and give it stronger word-of-mouth than what “Matrix” had.

Also getting a more limited release this weekend is “Belle,” the latest anime film from Mamoru Hosoda, who directed the Oscar-nominated film “Mirai.” The film follows a shy girl who takes on the identity of a beloved pop star named Belle in a virtual world, and who seeks to discover the identity of a dragon avatar who disrupts one of her concerts. Anime distributor GKIDS will release the film in 1,300 theaters on Friday, nearly double the 780 locations that “Mirai” was released on in the U.S.

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