Low-budget horror sequel ‘The Conjuring 2’ breezed past expectations to score a $40.35 million opening weekend, scoring especially strongly with older female audiences. This haul was just 4% lower than the first ‘Conjuring’ in 2013. But considering that ‘The Conjuring’ opened with $41.9M, the highest opening weekend for a horror movie EVER, that’s still pretty impressive. ‘The Conjuring 2’ also falls behind 2009’s ‘Friday the 13th’ which debuted to $40.6M, but hey, the third highest horror opening of all time is still pretty impressive, especially considering the film’s $40M budget. It’s already broken even, not counting advertising.
Audiences seem enticed by the fact that this movie is based on true events and a large portion of the audience was also drawn in by stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real-life ghostbusters The Warrens. With this combination of factors, ‘The Conjuring 2’ seems to have expanded its appeal beyond the core horror fanbase, which some are comparing to ‘The Exorcist’. Not too shabby!
It’s actually kind of refreshing to see a low-budget, niche flick like this score big in a sea of multi-million dollar tentpoles bumping up against one another.
Overall, this was was a low-key weekend in general, with no other major premiers.
I’m going to skip down to #3, which belongs to Lionsgate’s ‘Now You See Me 2’. Its $23M bow is 22% shy of the first film, which also came out in 2013, but that’s actually not too bad compared to some of the other under-performing sequels that have come out this year. The first film did well at the box office but much better on home video, so the same could happen with the sequel. Some say that the addition of Daniel Radcliffe, in a totally different type of magic movie, helped as he retains a large number of devoted fans from his Harry Potter flicks.
Both ‘The Conjuring 2’ and ‘Now You See Me 2’ are scoring well with audiences, with A- CinemaScore rankings.
That leaves the third new release this week, Universal’s ‘Warcraft’, which I will delve into a bit more after the numbers:
- The Conjuring 2 (Warner Brothers) – $40.35M
- Warcraft (Universal) – $24.35M
- Now You See Me 2 (Lionsgate) – $23M
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount) – $14.8M
- X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox) – $10M
‘Warcraft’ is an unusual entry, in that it doesn’t appear that Universal expected it to do well in the first place. Universal acquired the film rights ages ago when the game’s popularity was at its peak, but the adaptation languished in development hell for years. At one point, Sam Raimi was attached to direct, and the movie was slated to arrive in 2009. Universal even began publicizing the film at various conventions. But Raimi eventually walked away from the project, while ‘World of Warcraft’ hit its peak in 2010, with the number of subscribers decreasing since.
But ‘WoW’ is huge in China, where 5.6M people are subscribers to the game. And Universal is heavily courting movie goers in that nation, going so far as to send the cast over for a press junket. And the film has already raked in an impressive $145M there. (‘Warcraft”s budget is believed to be between $160-$200M.) Universal predicts that ‘Warcraft’ will wind up making about $200-$250M in China alone.
It also needs to be pointed out that ‘Warcraft’ has already been out in several foreign markets for over a week now. Once again, this is because Universal know it would tank in the U.S., so they opened the film early abroad to lure in those viewers before American audiences and critics could sink it. Had it bombed here first, that likely would have doomed it abroad.
Barring some unforeseen cataclysm, next weekend will belong to ‘Finding Dory’.
Also opening is ‘Central Intelligence’ starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, but honestly comedies have NOT been faring well this summer. It seems that with so many options, theater-goers are opting for the bigger tentpole action movies over lighter fare. But we shall see!
Check back to see how things pan out.