'Vampires' draws b.o. blood
Halloween weekend a treat for Carpenter, trick for rivals
By Cathy Dunkley and Zorianna Kit
Sony's JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES staked out the top spot this Halloween weekend. The horror film grossed an estimated $9.2 million.
As the lone wide release, VAMPIRES' debut sunk it's teeth into the biggest opening ever for a Halloween weekend, as the previous high was Universal's HALLOWEEN 2, which grossed $7.44 million in 1981. Last year, Sony's I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER took in $9.4 million for the Halloween frame, but that was on its third weekend. It also marks the biggest opening for a Carpenter-helmed film, surpassing Paramount's ESCAPE FROM L.A., which debuted with $8.9 million in August 1996.
When Halloween falls on a weekend, it has not been particularly kind to the boxoffice, and this year proved no exception. Many potential moviegoers are occupied with parties, trick or treating or both. Most of the top films took drops of more than 40% compared with last weekend. New Line's PLEASANTVILLE was the chief exception with a low 25% decrease, taking the second spot with an estimated $6.6 million.
"Halloween usually hurts moviegoing, but it turned out to be a good opportunity for us," said Jeff Blake, president of Sony Pictures Releasing, regarding the opening of the James Woods starrer. Sony picked up VAMPIRES from Largo Entertainment and is distributing the film in the United States and some international locations.
In taking the bite out of the top spot, VAMPIRES averaged $5,131 from 1,793 nests.