Candyman
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Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures

'Candyman' director Nia DaCosta makes sweet box office history as film debuts at No. 1 in theaters

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Aug 29, 2021, 1:08 PM EDT

It seems that Candyman has not lost his ability to conjure up ticket-paying audiences over the last three decades.

Nia DaCosta's modern-day sequel to the 1992 horror classic buzzed to tippy-top of the North American box office this weekend with a bow of $22.37 million. That's among one of the best domestic openings amid the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, which caused a subdued theatergoing experience that has persisted for over a year now. In addition, DaCosta makes box office history (via Deadline) as the first Black female filmmaker to claim the No. 1 financial slot.

Internationally, the film sinked its hooks into just over $4 million for a global opening of nearly $28 million. Reviews for the movie have been overwhelmingly positive, and it currently holds a fresh 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Though superhero films and big-budget franchises enjoy much of the box office glory and appreciation from the industry, it is indeed the horror genre that deserves much credit for being one of the most consistent performers at the multiplex," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "During the pandemic era, horror films have generated nearly $450 million and 18 percent of the overall theatrical revenue since mid-March 2020. The only thing scarier than a good horror film would be to not have a steady stream of them coming to theaters and thankfully, there’s more on the way."

He, of course, is referring to three big-name horror projects slated for coming months: James Wan's Malignant (Sep. 10), David Gordon Green's Halloween Kills (Oct. 15), and Johannes Roberts' Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (Nov. 24).

Co-written by DaCosta and executive producers — Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld — the latest Candyman title follows Anthony McCoy (Watchmen's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a young Chicago artist who finds himself consumed by the titular legend that looms over the now-gentrified neighborhood of Cabrini-Green. Unlike previous films in the franchise, this 21st century reimagining frames Candyman as a tragic victim of racial injustice as opposed to a being of pure evil.

Teyonah Parris (WandaVision), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Doctor Who), and Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead) round out the rest of the principal cast. DaCosta will follow up Candyman with The Marvels, a sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel.

Candyman's $22 million theatrical debut was enough to sting Free Guy — now in its third frame — into second place with close to $14 million. To date, 20th Century Studios and Disney's meta video game comedy has garnered $79.3 million in North America and $179.6 million across the planet (Free Guy hit the Chinese market this weekend with $23.9 million).

Credit: Free Guy | Official Trailer | 20th Century Studios

Disney's Jungle Cruise added another $5 million to its domestic cache, passing the coveted $100 million milestone in North America (a feat accomplished by only a handful of tentpoles released during the pandemic). On a global scale, the ride-to-screen adaptation is closing in on $200 million.

Paramount's Paw Patrol: The Movie and Sony's Don't Breathe 2 also landed among the domestic Top 5 with $6.6 million (for a total of $24 million after two weeks) and $2.85 million (for a total of $24.5 million after three weeks), respectively. Paw Patrol's ability to remain at the top of the box office in its first two weekends may be an indicator that studio hesitancy to release family-friendly movies in the face of the delta variant (which is affecting more and more children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated) is somewhat misplaced.

(Universal Pictures — the studio behind Candyman — & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal)