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Halloween Kills scores best debut for a horror film during the pandemic

Michael Myers is killing it at the box office. 

Halloween Kills, the new installment in the long-running slasher franchise, took in $50.4 million at the domestic box office this weekend, Variety reports. That came in below the $76 million, pre-pandemic debut of the film's 2018 predecessor. But it was still considered a strong start for the horror sequel, especially given it's also available to stream on Peacock at no additional charge to subscribers. 

This was the latest 2021 release that drove audiences out to theaters even though there was the option to watch the movie at home, with others including Godzilla vs. Kong and Black Widow. It was also the latest horror film to perform well at the box office in 2021, and Deadline notes Halloween Kills had the best three-day domestic debut of any horror movie released during the pandemic. That record was previously held by A Quiet Place Part II, which opened to $47.5 million over three days in May. Halloween Kills also scored the best pandemic opening for an R-rated movie, above the DC film The Suicide Squad

Though it's the 12th film in the Halloween series, Halloween Kills serves as the second chapter in a revived version of the franchise, which picks up 40 years after the original 1978 movie but ignores all prior sequels. Reviews for Kills were more lukewarm than for the 2018 installment, and some fans expressed disappointment that Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode has a smaller role this time, as the movie shifts focus to returning characters from the 1978 classic. But Curtis is set to return for a third film that will apparently conclude this era of the series, Halloween Ends, and hits theaters in October 2022. 

After Halloween Kills, another test of how a simultaneous streaming release can affect a film's box office potential will come next weekend, when the sci-fi epic Dune hits both theaters and HBO Max.