Some celebrities claim to ignore the business side of the industry – they say they don’t pay attention to how high their song climbs on the radio charts, or how many people watch their TV show, or the ticket sales for the opening weekend of their movie.
Jamie Lee Curtis, however, didn’t even pretend to play it cool this weekend. On Friday, her highly-anticipated horror sequel, “Halloween,” earned $33.3 million at the box office – the highest October opening day ever. That edged out superhero flick “Venom,” which broke the record two weeks ago with a $32.5 million Friday haul. Curtis was thrilled, thanking fans who saw the film the first night.
“Well I guess the (horse) race is on & my competitive streak has kicked into gear,” tweeted Curtis, who reprised her starring role as Laurie Strode, facing off against psycho killer Michael Myers. Suddenly, the film was on track to beat the “Venom” record of an $80 million opening weekend, the most ever for an October film. “Let’s leave VAPID VENOM in the dust!”
As it turned out, Curtis just missed beating the “Venom” October record. But “Halloween” still crushed the box office, taking home an impressive $77.5 million over three days. On Sunday, Curtis allowed herself one “boast post” on Twitter, as she ticked off a few of the movie’s accomplishments that made history:
“Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead. Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55. Second biggest October movie opening ever. Biggest Halloween opening ever,” Curtis tweeted, adding the hashtag #WomenGetThingsDone.
As the post was retweeted more than 14,000 times and even got a response from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Wow!! ... Raising the bar!!”), Curtis could have boasted a few more times – but she left it at that, even as the first two facts she listed are particularly significant.
After all, it’s no secret that there’s a major gender imbalance in movies. In a 2018 study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which extensively researches diversity in Hollywood, the authors looked at 1,100 popular films from 2007 through 2017. Across those movies, approximately only 30 percent of characters on-screen were female, and only 23 percent of female characters were age 40 or older.
And in 2017, the study found, 31 movies featured a male lead or co-lead who was age 45 or older. How many movies had a female lead or co-lead age 45 or older? Just five.
Curtis didn’t even mention that “Halloween,” which marked the 40th anniversary and 11th installment of the popular franchise, is also now the second-biggest opening ever for an R-rated horror movie. Box Office Mojo reports that it lagged behind last year’s “It,” which raked in $123 million its first weekend, though it beat out “The Nun,” which kicked off with $53.8 million last month.
So not only does “Halloween” continue Hollywood’s streak of very successful horror movies, but it proves yet again that (pay attention, executives!) audiences will pay lots of money to see female-led films.
And it’s still a timely lesson. Just last week, “Halloween” producer Jason Blum had to apologize after an interview, in which he said there are few female horror movie directors because “there are not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror.”
“Thank you everyone for calling me out on my dumb comments in that interview. I made a stupid mistake,” he later tweeted, adding, “Some of our most successful franchises are anchored by women, including the one opening tomorrow/today, led by the biggest female legend in this genre.”