The New Line/Warner Bros. prequel to Annabelle and spinoff of The Conjuring will carry summer to its final pop with an industry projected opening of $30M-plus at 3,502 theaters, which is 19% off from its previous installment, 2014’s Annabelle. 

Why is Annabelle: Creation summer’s final crest? Because there’s nothing left on the calendar that’s expected to top the opening of the New Line horror title by Labor Day weekend. After giving us the summer’s highest grossing movie Wonder Woman, the sleeper Dunkirkand this weekend’s Annabelle: Creation, Warner Bros. will literally be responsible for juicing the box office again on Sept. 8 with New Line’s Stephen King feature adaptation It. Many rivals are already expecting that pic to clear at least $50M. Even if Annabelle: Creation opens to $25M, it will still be a solid debut as New Line Cinema only spent $15M before P&A on this doll-goes-bad movie. Previews start Thursday at 7PM. Already Fandango is seeing brisk advance ticket sales for Annabelle: Creation that’s outstripping that of Annabelle and last summer’s Don’t Breathe ($26.4M)

The first Annabelle was an enormous cash cow with a shoestring production cost of $6.5M and a total global haul of $256.9M, roughly 33% of that coming from U.S./Canada. Annabelle: Creation should ultimately send the Conjuring franchise, currently numbering three pics at $895M, past the $1 billion mark. Annabelle: Creation arrives to cinemas with the Good Housekeeping sign of approval for horror fans –James Wan’s producer credit– and that goes a long way at the B.O. David F. Sandberg, who directed last summer’s profitable horror hit Lights Out ($149M global B.O., $4.5M production cost), is in the helmer’s chair here for Annabelle: Creation. Further proof that Annabelle 2 is really beautiful and not some ugly piece of plastic: She has a great Rotten Tomatoes score of 82% fresh. New Line previewed the prequel to crowds at the Los Angeles Film Festival back in June and showed it off in San Diego on Comic-Con’s Wednesday preview night last month.

The R-rated Annabelle: Creation takes place in the 1950s. A dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife, following the death of their daughter, invite in a Nun and a bunch of orphans. Except the guests can’t stay out of the doll’s locked room, and of course that’s when everything goes sideways.

Warner Bros. will also relish third place with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk which in week 4 is estimated to decline a mere 35% for a No. 3 take of $11.1M. Over the last two days, the British World War II movie has topped the weekday box office and has a running total stateside through 19 days of $138.6M, which is 15% ahead of Nolan’s last movie Interstellar. That pic finaled at $188M stateside.

In second place will be Open Road’s sequel The Nutjob 2: Nutty by Nature which will pull in between $12M-$14M at 4,003 venues.  For an independent animated feature, the first film, which Open Road also handled, posted a $19.4M opening in January 2014 and legged out a 3.3x to $64.2M domestic. That’s very good.  Open Road picked up stateside rights to the sequel. Similar to the first movie, Nutjob 2 cost around $40M with Red Rover, Toonbox Entertainment, Gulfstream Pictures, Shanghai Hoongman serving as producers. Cal Brunker (Escape From Planet Earth) directs with a voice cast that includes  Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Katherine Heigl, Jackie Chan, Isabela Moner, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Moynihan, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Stormare, and Jeff Dunham. Previews start at 5PM tomorrow.

Analysts foresee Sony/Media Rights Capital’s fantasy genre-mashup The Dark Tower tumbling by at least 60% in weekend 2 for $7.6M. In its first five days, the Stephen King adaptation has made $23.6M.

Lionsgate

Lionsgate has its adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ New York Times bestselling memoir The Glass Castle which will be platformed through the month, starting off in roughly 1,400 venues, in order to build buzz among adults. The hope here is for a $5M start with a $3k-$4K per theater average. Walls, portrayed by Room Oscar winner Brie Larson, grew up with deeply dysfunctional, yet uniquely vibrant parents, as she journeyed toward acceptance and fulfillment. Her father Rex (Harrelson) was an alcoholic, and her mother Rose Mary (Watts) was a painter. In her memoir, Walls details her calamities which included her father siphoning away the mother’s paycheck to the point where the family starved. Larson is directed here by her Short Term 12 helmer Destin Daniel Cretton.

Weinstein Co./Voltage’s Wind River from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Taylor Sheridan is also expanding this weekend after a great per screen start last weekend at four New York and Los Angeles runs with $40,3K. Wind River flows into 45 locations with an eye on $11K-$12K per screen.

Bedeviled
Kirk Roos

Brian Brooks will have the specialty report this week which includes Freestyle/Voltage/Conduit’s horror title Bedeviled from the Vang Brothers, A24’s Good TimeIFC’s The Trip to SpainNeon’s Ingrid Goes West and Roadside Attractions’ The Only Living Boy in New York