Annabelle: Creation yielded enough in ticket sales its preview night in theaters to make it the biggest Thursday night opener in The Conjuring franchise. The tale of the creepy, demonically possessed doll kicked off The Conjuring in 2013 when demonologists Ed and Elizabeth Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) seized the doll and safely encased it in a glass case in their occult museum to prevent it from wreaking any more havoc.
And while the vintage toy only appeared in the film’s opening scenes, it had a big enough impact on moviegoers that Warner Bros. realized the potential of a spinoff film featuring the character, and quickly put into play the spinoff film Annabelle, which was released in 2014. Following the massive box office success of Annabelle globally (it made $256.8 million globally on a $6.5 million budget), the studio got to work on Annabelle: Creation, a prequel that would examine the creation of the doll and how it came to attract demonic spirits.
Set in the 1950s, the film centers on a dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto), and how the tragic loss of their young daughter led to intense prayers for to see her again. And while at first their prayers seem to conjure up sightings of their daughter’s spirit, they come to realize that its an evil spirit that they eventually trap in their late daughter’s room — an entity that’s unleashed when a nun and group of orphaned girls shuttered from their home stay move in with the couple and one of them becomes too curious about what lurks behind a certain door.
According to Deadline, Annabelle: Creation opened with Thursday night previews with $4 million in ticket sales at the domestic box office, putting the film on track to make something in the low $30 million range in 3,502 locations this weekend. The tally for Annabelle: Creation makes it the biggest opener in The Conjuring universe so far, ahead of The Conjuring 2 ($3.4 million), The Conjuring ($3.3 million), and Annabelle ($2.1 million).
Despite topping its predecessors in Thursday night previews, Annabelle: Creation is still expected to be the lowest grossing film in its opening frame in the franchise, behind The Conjuring ($41.2 million), The Conjuring 2 ($40.4 million) and Annabelle ($37.1 million). It’s still expected to top the box office this weekend, though, ahead of Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which is projected to open in second place in the neighborhood of $12 million to $14 million, and Dunkirk, which is expected to finish third with $11 million in domestic ticket sales.
Even in the unlikely scenario that Annabelle: Creation finishes below box office projections, it will hardly be enough to send Warner Bros. into a full-tilt panic. The film has a reported budget of $15 million, which is far below many of its summer movie box office competitors. A $30 million start would obviously double the amount of production costs off the bat, and that’s only from domestic locations. The film reportedly grossed $4 million in its first day in foreign locations as well.
No matter where Annabelle: Creation ends up by the time it ends its theatrical run, it most certainly will be profitable for Warner Bros., and will serve as a valuable example of how big budget movies don’t always guarantee big budget success. The studio is clearly onto something with the old-school scares films like Annabelle: Creation conjure up, and they even have more in store with The Conjuring spinoffs The Nun and Crooked Man, which were introduced to audiences in memorable fashion in The Conjuring 2.
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