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Halloween slashes US box office rivals again

Los Angeles

HALLOWEEN easily remained top of the North American box office in its second weekend as the spooky holiday nears.

Universal and Blumhouse's slasher film starring Jamie Lee Curtis picked up another US$32 million, marking a 58 per cent decline from its impressive debut. Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween crossed the US$100 million mark last Friday. The movie pocketed US$25 million overseas for a total of US$172 million worldwide.

Warner Bros' A Star Is Born landed in second place with US$14 million, dropping just 26 per cent in its fourth outing. Lady Gaga and Bradley's musical drama has earned US$148 million to date. The acclaimed movie hit US$100 million at the international box office for a global total of US$253.2 million.

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Meanwhile, Venom, Sony's dark superhero film with Tom Hardy, came in third with US$10.8 million. That brings its domestic tally to US$187 million for a worldwide cume of US$508.4 million.

Otherwise, studios generally steered clear of the pre-Halloween frame. Lionsgate and Summit's Hunter Killer, a high-stakes thriller starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman, was the only wide release. It wasn't able to beat Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween as Sony's family friendly flick came in fourth place with US$7.5 million. Hunter Killer was, at least, able to round out the top five with US$6.65 million when it opened in 2,720 locations. The audience, which was predominately male and over the age of 25, gave the film an A- CinemaScore. Critics were far less generous with a Rotten Tomatoes average of 36 per cent.

Last weekend's other new offerings failed to stir up much interest. Pure Flix's faith-based war drama Indivisible fell flat, earning just US$1.5 million in 830 theatres. Elsewhere, Universal's Johnny English Strikes Again pocketed a meagre US$1.6 million from 544 screens. An underwhelming performance in the US might not matter considering the movie is virtually engineered for international audiences. The third instalment in the Rowan Atkinson-led British spy series launched earlier this month overseas, where it has already earned US$107 million.

In limited release, Amazon Studios nabbed the highest screen average of the year as Luca Guadagnino's horror remake Suspiria with Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton generated US$179,806 from just two locations, or US$89,903 per venue.

Does the strong pre-holiday showing mean studios should reconsider sitting out the Halloween weekend?

A lot depends on the product, and the Halloween sequel hit all the right elements for success - a timely theme, a beloved property and solid execution.

"It is quite appropriate that a movie called Halloween would deliver a sweet box office treat to the industry that typically suffers a slowdown on this particular weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with comScore. "Universal picked a perfect release date, inspiring nostalgia and excitement among moviegoers looking for the perfect film to complement their Halloween weekend plans." REUTERS