‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ Drops 76 Percent as Indies Like ‘Priscilla’ and ‘Radical’ Show Promise

On a weekend when “Five Weeks at Freddy’s” (Universal) dropped 76 percent and overall grosses were $65 million on a traditionally prime release date, it could have been worse. With limited studio alternatives, there were some good holds among longer-run films, and solid expansions for “Priscilla” (A24) and “The Holdovers” (Focus). “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” (AMC) showed particular strength with a 13 percent drop in its fourth weekend.

“Freddy’s” added $19.4 million after its unexpectedly massive opening. It’s also a massive fall — one of the biggest ever for its level of initial gross, and more so for a film with an A- Cinemascore. Still, let’s be honest: A month ago, a prediction of “Freddy’s” grossing nearly $20 million its second weekend would be considered delusional.

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The Blumhouse videogame adaptation is now at $113 million domestic, $217 million total worldwide off a film budgeted at $20 million pre-marketing. Already, that’s a massive profit and it doesn’t include the views on Universal’s streamer Peacock, where it debuted simultaneously. Peacock may factor into that big drop, particularly for repeat viewings, and horror films often drop by two thirds in their second weeks. Had this opened to $60 million, it would seem like business as usual.

“Freddy’s” is yet another example of an event film that drew oversized initial crowds, but had a more- limited pull than “Barbie,” “The Eras Tour,” “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and others. None of those of had at-home competition or faced the scathing reviews of “Freddy’s.” The key elemental leading to weak totals was the delay of “Dune: Part 2” (Warner Bros.) until next year because of guild strikes. That left a void. Disney (and despite some criticism, likely from some legitimate reasons, including hoping that the SAG strike would get resolved in-time for last minute promotion) chose to stick with its November 10 date.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - AUGUST 24: EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Taylor Swift performs onstage during the "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Foro Sol on August 24, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)
“Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana

With its minuscule drop, “The Eras Tour” ($13.5 million, $166 million domestic total) now has a shot at $200 million. That wasn’t assured by its $92 million start, but new and repeated viewers keep gravitating to the film, even without its initial crowded-concert feel. That is key data as distributors and performers ponder how to build on this.

“The Eras Tour” is one of seven top 10 titles not produced by major studios. Paramount is distributing #3, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” for Amazon, while six others come from independent companies. “Killers” recovered in its third weekend with only a 25 percent drop for a $52 million total. That suggests both a core interest in seeing it theatrically. Again, information to be considered for the future.

Whether “Priscilla” can sustain a long run (A24 was much more gradual with “The Whale” last year) is still to be determined, but it was a smart move to move into the “Dune 2” void with a 1,359-theater break. Sofia Coppola’s film placed fourth with $5.1 million.

The Sundance premiered “Radical” (Pantelion) starring Eugenio Deberez managed an even more impressive fifth place in only 419 theaters and $2.7 million (over $6,000 per theater). #9 “What Happens Later” (Bleecker Street) with Meg Ryan and David Duchovney managed a little under $1.6 million in 1,492 theaters.

The second weekends of “After Death” (Angel), off 60 percent and “Freelance” (Relativity), down 40 percent, round out the non-studio top 10 titles. “The Exorcist: Believer” (Universal), off 34 percent and “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” (Paramount), falling only 15 percent despite PVOD play, seem notable.

Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully, Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham and Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb in director Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC
“The Holdovers”Seacia Pavao/Focus Features

In an otherwise challenging season for prime specialized and awards titles, Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers” showed significant interest with $600,000 in 64 theaters ($9,373 per theater). That’s a better response than anticipated, based on its decent but hardly sensational platform numbers last week. Its suggests this is getting initially strong response that separates it from other adult-drawing titles this fall. Next week’s expansion to 800 will reveal more, but it looks like a movie that could beat the odds and sustain a multi-month presence going into awards.

“The Marsh King’s Daughter” (Roadside Attractions) with Daisy Ridley could only muster $850,000 in 1,055 theaters. A24’s acclaimed Sundance film “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” did a weak $12,529 in three New York/Los Angeles locations.

More positive is “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon), which grew to 440 theaters with a $600,000 result and just under $2 million so far. That seems good enough to sustain attention and hold key theaters through the holidays.

The Top 10

1. Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #1; also streaming on Peacock

$19,400,000 (-76%) in 3,789 (+114) theaters; PTA (per theater average): $5,120; Cumulative: $113,604,000

2. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) Week 4; Last week #2

$13,500,000 (-13%) in 3,604 (-169) theaters; PTA: $3,746; Cumulative: $166,000,000

3. Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$7,000,000 (-25%) in 3,786 (+154) theaters; PTA: $1,849; Cumulative: $52,333,000

4. Priscilla (A24) Week 2; Last weekend #20

$5,085,000 (+1,355%) in 1,344 (+4) theaters; PTA: $3,741; Cumulative: $5,310,000

5. Radical (Pantelion) NEW – Metacritic: 71

$2,730,000 in 419 theaters; PTA: $6,516; Cumulative: $2,730,000

6. The Exorcist: Believer (Universal) Week 5 – Last week #5; also on PVOD

$2,150,000 (-34%) in 2,420 (-297) theaters; PTA: $888; Cumulative: $63,155,000

7. After Death (Angel) Week 2; Last weekend #4

$ (-%) in 2,730 (+85) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $

8. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Par) Week 6; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$1,975,000 (-15%) in 2,404 (-342) theaters; PTA: $822; Cumulative: $62,039,000

9. What Happens Later (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 66

$1,564,000 in 1,492 theaters; PTA: $1,048; Cumulative: $1,564,000

10. Freelance (Relativity) Week 2; Last weekend #7

$1,249,000 (-40%) in 2,057 (no change) theaters; PTA: $607; Cumulative: $4,204,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and film festivals lists as listed.

The Marsh King’s Daughter (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 45

$850,000 in 1,055 theaters; PTA: $806

All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (A24) NEW – Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Sundance, New York 2023

$12,529 in 3 theaters; PTA: $4,176

The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes (IFC) NEW – Festivals include: Tokyo 2022

$75,000 in 167 theaters; PTA: $449

Subject (Greenwich) NEW – Metacritic: 74; Festivals include: Tribeca 2022

$7,500 in 2 theaters; PTA: $3,750

At the Gates (Picturehouse) NEW – Metacritic:; Festivals include: Deauville 2022

$5,186 in 1 theater; PTA: $5,186

The Holdovers (Focus) Week 2

$600,000 in 64 (+60) theaters; PTA: $9,373; Cumulative: $878,000

The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 3

$178,095 in 480 (+450) theaters; Cumulative: $365,241

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) Week 4

$600,000 in 440 (+170) theaters; Cumulative: $1,973,000

Dicks: The Musical (A24) Week 5

$24,972 in 102 (-533) theaters; Cumulative: $1,380,000

Stop Making Sense (A24) (reissue) Week 7

$31,434 in 32 (-38) theaters; Cumulative: $4,923,000 (reissue only)

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