New York CNN Business  — 

Even Spider-Man isn’t safe from Ghostface.

Paramount’s “Scream” — the fifth installment in the long running slasher franchise — notched an estimated $30.6 million at the North American box office this weekend, according to the studio. That number exceeded industry expectations, which had projected the film to make closer to $25 million in its weekend debut.

“Scream” also took the No. 1 spot, dethroning “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has been the top box office draw for roughly a month.

Paramount said the film is projected to make $35 million over the four day holiday weekend. The latest film in the franchise also brought in more than the opening of the last installment, “Scream 4,” which opened to $18 million in 2011, according to Comscore (SCOR).

The debut for the horror film — which brought back actors from the original including Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox — was a solid one for theater owners who are trying to kick off 2022 on the right note.

So why did the fifth installment of the series exceed expectations in the middle of January — historically one of the worst months for movie going — and did so during an ongoing pandemic?

For starters, horror is one of Hollywood’s most reliable genres and “Scream” is one of its most popular franchises. This goes back to the 1996 original, which in many ways changed horror by having characters in the film who had actually seen scary movies.

The other reason “Scream” succeeded is that it nabbed good reviews from critics. The film currently has a 75% score on review site, Rotten Tomatoes.

It also helped that there wasn’t much competition at the ticket booth this weekend.

All in all, “Scream” didn’t break any records, but it kicks off an important year for theaters with a solid performance.

Last year saw theaters reopen after a year that shuttered cineplexes and delayed blockbusters. However, 2022 — with its big slate of potential blockbusters on the docket -— could be a year that shows if movie theaters can thrive as they’ve done in the past.