Horror spin-off prequel Annabelle: Creation scared its way to the top of the box office this weekend, revitalizing a slumping summer with a big opening consistent with the rest of the films in The Conjuring universe.
It's been a weak summer for horror films, with a lack of major releases in the genre and those that were released underwhelming at the box office (Alien: Covenant, Wish Upon). There hasn't been a major hit in horror since the pleasant surprise of February's Get Out, but Annabelle: Creation helped turn the fortunes of the genre in its opening this weekend ahead of a possibly profitable period of time for the genre that includes releases like IT and Jigsaw.
According to multiple sources, including Variety, the fourth entry in The Conjuring universe opened to an estimated $35 million in its first three days from roughly 3,500 theaters (including $4 million from Thursday night screenings). That would put the film remarkably in line with the rest of the franchise openings, just shy of the $37.1 million of 2014's Annabelle, the $40 million of 2016's The Conjuring 2, and the $41 million of 2013's original Conjuring. The film only cost $15 million, a model of financial flexibility and a leaning on practical horror effects that help make this new crop of nostalgic retro horror films successful. The film was a bit front-loaded, earning $15 million on Friday alone, but that's typical for the horror genre and sequels.
Unlike its predecessor, Creation easily topped the weekend thanks to no other big opener - the original was defeated in a photo finish by Gone Girl. That lack of competition is best personified by animated sequel The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, which opened to a lackluster $8.9 million from an astonishing and baffling 4,000 locations. The original film, released in January 2014, capitalized and cannibalized on a weak market that hadn't seen a successful kids movie since November 2013's Frozen to open to $19 million, but the magic wasn't there this time for the poorly received Will Arnett-led cartoon.
Elsewhere, Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been playing the "slow and steady" game over the past couple of weeks, climbing its way past $150 million domestically and towards the top 10 of 2017. It currently sits at #13 of the year after earning an additional $11.4 million, a bright spot in a summer filled with underperforming big blockbusters at the box office. Best-seller adaptation The Glass Castle, starring Woody Harrelson and Brie Larson, began its escalating roll-out with a decent $4.9 from 1,500 theaters. The film should play relatively well with senior citizens and book enthusiasts over the next couple of weeks. Spider-Man: Homecoming webbed another $6 million for Sony and Marvel, moving up to $306 million.
It'll be interesting to see what kind of drop Annabelle: Creation takes next weekend - with good legs it could potentially make it to $100 million. The original topped out at $84 million, but the sequel has good word-of-mouth and reviews going for it. New competition for Annabelle: Creation next weekend includes Ryan Reynolds-Samuel L. Jackson action comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard and Channing Tatum-Daniel Craig heist comedy Logan Lucky.
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