For the fifth weekend in a row Warner Bros. will rule the top of the box office, this time with New Line’s Conjuring spinoff The Nun which is expected to bring the Burbank, CA studio moola from heaven with an estimated $36M-$45M start at an estimated 3,700-plus locations. Two out of three tracking services have The Nun north of $40M, and there’s a very good chance that the Corin Hardy-directed pic will rep a record debut for The Conjuring universe, besting the first 2013 installment’s debut of $41.8M. Total awareness, first choice, and unaided awareness on The Nun is best with females under 25. Already we’re hearing that advance ticket sales are ahead of Annabelle: Creation and The Conjuring 2.
Warner Bros. pulled off something amazing last year with the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s It which blew away all September and horror box office records with a $123.4M opening, final of $327.4M. Similar to how Marvel created a new blockbuster destination on the calendar in the first weekend of May, so has Warner Bros. for mass-appealing horror fare in the former listless post-Labor Day frame. Next year Warner Bros. has It: Chapter Two in this post-holiday period; the pic recently finished shooting today. Originally, Warners had The Nun on July 13 against Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper and Sony Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3. The studio brilliantly figured it was best to give The Nun more air this weekend, not to mention, had the Conjuring spinoff stayed in its old spot, it would have been in the second weekend wake of Universal/Blumhouse/Platinum Dunes’ The First Purge.
Note Rotten Tomatoes reviews haven’t registered yet for The Nun. The Hollywood premiere is Wednesday. While RT scores can impact a horror pic’s ticket sales greatly, 2014’s Annabelle skated by on a 29% Rotten score which delivered it a $37.1M opening, ahead of the $35M made by its prequel last August Annabelle: Creation which was working off a 70% fresh score.
While Hotel Transylvania 2 reps the second best domestic opening for September with $48.4M, Film District’s Insidious Chapter 2 is the second best for horror with a mid-month start of $40.2M. We hear that The Nun will also be making a big play overseas versus other Conjuring titles which have had staggered releases. More info on that later. Last year, and again this isn’t really a comp to The Nun, It posted an enormous global start of $189.7M. The Nun cost a reported low $22M before P&A which is standard for a New Line genre pic.
Conjuring producers James Wan and Peter Safran are also behind The Nun with It and Annabelle franchise screenwriter Gary Dauberman on script. The demonic nun first appeared in Conjuring 2. The pic tells the story of a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania who takes her own life. A priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate and uncover the order’s unholy secret. Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga star. Even though The Nun stars the younger sister of Conjuring star Vera Farmiga we’re informed that their respective characters of Sister Irene and investigator Lorraine Warren aren’t related in the horror universe. We’ll see.
Also opening this weekend is STX’s Peppermint which marks a return to action for Alias star Jennifer Garner. The pic directed by Pierre Morel about a mother who takes revenge is estimated to open between $10M-$13M per industry forecasts at 2,850-plus theaters. STX’s previous action pic Mile 22 opened at $13.7M and currently total awareness and first choice on Peppermint are best among women over 25.
Freestyle Releasing has the faith-based drama God Bless the Broken Road which follows a young mother who loses her husband in Afghanistan and struggles to raise their young daughter. Pic was directed by God’s Not Dead filmmaker Harold Cronk with a script by Cronk and Jennifer Dornbush. The movie is only expected to make between $2M-$4M.