Just as was the case with the upcoming Hunger Games prequel Five Nights at Freddy’s was not on my radar until very recently, and I had even less idea as to what to make of it than I did Hunger Games — this being an original film rather than part of a franchise, and the box office dynamics of horror films less familiar to me than those of big action movies, while even by horror film standards Freddy’s was atypical. (In contrast with the blood-soaked horror films that usually make a splash, this one kept it PG-13 in what was seen as a risky move.)
Still, the trajectory of the commercial expectations surrounding the film has been more than usually interesting. Just four weeks before Freddy’s opened Boxoffice Pro projected an opening weekend of $33-$42 million and the film’s finishing in the $60-$90 million range. All things considered this was respectable, but then each of their three subsequent forecasts had the movie edging upward — by 25 percent the immediately following week, 13 percent the week after that, and an amazing 43 percent more after that, on the way up to their right before the opening weekend giving the likely range as $65-$85 million — the kind of numbers conventionally associated not with even successful horror films, but blockbusters.
In the event the movie had a $78 million opening — closer to the high end of the range than the low, a figure which put its debut well ahead of the latest Fast and Furious, Transformers, DCEU, Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible films this past summer (all of which opened in the $54-$67 million range). That debut, moreover, would seem consistent with even a front-loaded run having the film cross the $150 million mark domestically, while it is supplementing its domestic gross with significant international revenues (equaling about two-thirds the North American take), suggesting a global gross well north of $200 million for the $20 million movie.
An undeniable commercial success, it seems worth remarking Freddy’s as affirming two developments seen this year. One is the way that while the familiar franchises flop movies that look less promising by the usual standard are not just finding audiences but overperforming significantly — so that one can identify Freddy’s with the same pattern of success as , Taylor Swift’s concert film The Era’s Tour (the #2 movie at the box office this weekend, after two weeks at #1), and The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
The other is that, just like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Freddy’s, if no Mario for name recognition, is based on a popular video game series — and so (likewise, in spite of critical sneers) delivered another big box office success for that long-mocked category of film, the video game-to-feature film adaptation.
In a pop cultural moment in which people are reading LitRPG novels, and producers look for less exploited types of material to back, these two films could be just the beginning of a whole wave of hit films of the kind.