Halloween Is Slashing Records — & It’s A Big Deal For Women

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
As seasonally appropriate as ever, Halloween is slashing through records.
The direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, led by Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode, opened to $77.5 million this weekend. According to Variety, it is the highest-grossing movie opening with a woman lead over 55 years old. It’s also the second-biggest opening ever for any R-rated horror film or any film released in October, behind last year’s It and this year’s Venom, respectively.
“OK. I’m going to go for one BOAST post,” Curtis wrote on Instagram under a photo of herself and co-stars Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, listing off the film’s box office accomplishments. “Couldn’t be prouder of ALL who made this creative experiment have such a thrilling result!”
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The post was capped off with a list of hashtags, including #WomenGetThingsDone and #TimesUp — a notable shout-out to the national anti-sexual harassment movement. Curtis told Refinery29 that even though Halloween was scripted before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, her performance as Laurie was very much inspired by survivors and their strength. “There’s a movement of women taking back their life narrative from their perpetrators,” she said. “The contributions of those brave women clearly made its way into the script and into the performances.”
Along with making a killing at the box office, Halloween has also been received favorably by critics and audiences alike, earning a healthy 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The numbers and the reviews and the records all tell us what we’ve already known. The idea that women don’t make money at the box office isn’t simply regressive and sexist — it’s also untrue. For example, the three highest-grossing films of 2017 were all led by women (in order: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty And The Beast, and Wonder Woman). In the last few years, high-profile releases like Girls Trip, Blockers, and Finding Dory have all exceeded expectations and broken records of their own — such as Ocean’s 8, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any Ocean’s movie.
Of course, Halloween’s success also underscores issues beyond the inclusion of women alone. It is a reminder of the fact that Hollywood clearly has a problem with writing, casting, and marketing movies with women over a certain age (Curtis herself is 59 years old). It’s also a reminder that there’s still progress to be made when it comes to featuring women of color (Curtis and her co-stars are all white), as well as including women behind the scenes (Halloween was directed by David Gordon Green, produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, and written by Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley).
But for now, this milestone is still a treat, and still worth celebrating — and right on time for Halloween itself.
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