Paramount/Spyglass' "Scream" will take the No. 1 spot on the box office charts from "Spider-Man: No Way Home" as it meets pre-release projections with a $30.6 million 3-day/$35 million 4-day opening from 3,664 theaters on Martin Luther King weekend.
The fifth installment in the meta horror series is the first not to be directed by the late Wes Craven, but has received solid audience and critical reception with a B+ on CinemaScore to go with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 75% critics and 85% audience.
For comparison to other horror/thriller films released on MLK weekend, "Scream" is set to top the $32.6 million of Andy Muschietti's "Mama" in 2013 while settling below the $46.5 million opening of M. Night Shyamalan's "Glass" in 2019. Like other recent horror releases such as "Halloween Kills" and Paramount's own "A Quiet Place - Part II," "Scream" has been able to get a foothold with younger audiences while also getting some support from nostalgic Gen Xers who saw the original "Scream" in 1996.
Also worth noting is that "Scream" has one of the lowest production budgets for any film to hit No. 1 this past year. While "Quiet Place II" had a budget of $61 million, "Scream" was made on just $24 million, meaning it will have a much higher return on investment than many hit films from 2021. Paramount will keep "Scream" in theaters for 45 days before releasing it on Paramount+.
Meanwhile, Sony/Marvel's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" will settle for second with $25 million over the extended period. But that will be enough to make it only the fifth film in box office history to gross over $700 million in North America and to pass "Black Panther" for No. 4 on the all-time box office charts with a running total of $704 million.
Universal/Illumination's "Sing 2" is in third with a $8.2 3-day/$11 million 4-day total, which will push the animated sequel to a domestic total of $122 million after four weekends. On the flip side, Universal's spy thriller "The 355" continues to struggle with just an estimated $2.8 million extended weekend total, bringing its domestic cume to a poor $8.9 million. "The 355" is in a narrow tie for No. 4 on the charts with 20th Century's "The King's Man," which is estimated for a $3 million 4-day weekend to bring its total to $28.7 million domestic and $92.5 million worldwide.
Outside the Top 5 is GKIDS' "Belle," the latest anime film from Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu. Released in 1,326 theaters, the film is estimated to earn just over $2 million over the 4-day weekend. Reception has been strong for the film with a 95% critics and audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Scream 2" has helped bump up dropping theatrical business, but the estimated 4-day overall total for the weekend of $90-92 million will be well-short of the $205 million earned on MLK weekend in 2020 just before the pandemic began. Additional help won't be coming over the next two weekends either, as major studios are largely keeping clear of the late January release slate with Paramount's "Jackass Forever" and Lionsgate's "Moonfall" coming on Feb. 4.