In late May, a glowing Jamie Lee Curtis took to the stage at the Colosseum Theater at Caesas Palace in Las Vegas to applaud theater owners and trumpet the unparalleled experience of seeing a movie in cinemas with other people, an experience she plugged for her upcoming movie, Halloween Ends.
“When you scream, you scream louder when people are near you. When you feel something, you feel deeper when other people are right next to you,” Curtis said. “You don’t get that experience with movies in your living room. You get it in movie theaters.”
Flash-forward to Aug. 23 when Curtis made the surprise announcement that Halloween Ends will open simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock on Oct. 14.
While theater owners were surprised by the decision, according to several sources, most are expected to play the high-profile horror film since Universal will wage a major marketing campaign. Among those is AMC Theatres, the countries largest circuit, according to a source. Also, Universal has engendered goodwill by releasing more movies theatrically than any other studio this year as the industry emerges from the pandemic.
The previous film in the series, 2021’s Halloween Kills, also debuted the same day on Peacock.
Halloween Ends will be available to stream to those who have a paid subscription to Peacock Premium or Premium Plus. The free, ad-supported version will not carry the film.
Day-and-date releases became commonplace during the pandemic, but exhibitors had hoped that studios — many of whom are trying to grow their sister streaming services — would move away from that practice.
In this case, cinemas would be hard-pressed to boycott Halloween Ends, considering that the September and October calendars are notably light of high-profile fare.
Halloween Ends is the third and final installment in a rebooted Halloween franchise starring original actor Curtis and hailing from director David Gordon Green and horror super-producer Jason Blum. Halloween (2018) earned $255 million globally on a $10 million budget, while the sequel, Halloween Kills, earned $131 million. The third chapter picks up four years after Kills.
The film also stars Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Kyle Richards, Omar Dorsey, Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney. Malek Akkad and Bill Block produce alongside Blum.
Cinemark Theatres and Regal Cinemas didn’t respond to a request for comment. Nor would AMC officially confirm its plans.
No one is surprised that theaters aren’t up-in-arms over the decision, even if they don’t like it.
“It may not be a cool move, but we have a tough calendar ahead of us,” says one top exhibition source. “There are no hard and fast rules anymore. One of the most important things is a proper theatrical marketing spend, which Universal will do.”
It isn’t a surprise that Comcast, owner of Universal and Peacock, wants to bolster the streamer. In its latest earnings disclosure on July 28, Comcast said that Peacock had 13 million paid subscribers and 28 million active monthly accounts. The company took a $467 million loss related to Peacock last quarter, up from $363 million in the year-ago quarter.
More to come.