‘Conjuring 3’ tops ‘A Quiet Place 2’ as moviegoing returns

The Conjuring 3
The Conjuring 3 Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The US domestic box office is getting back to normal, with moderate wins and sizable second weekend drops. After its triumphant first weekend, ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ fell 59 per cent at the North American box office leaving room for the third movie in the ‘Conjuring’ franchise to take first place.

Warner Bros.’ ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ earned an estimated $24 million, according to studio estimates Sunday, making it the biggest R-rated opening of the pandemic. Paramount’s ‘A Quiet Place’ sequel meanwhile earned $19.5 million in ticket sales, bringing its US domestic total to $88.6 million.

“You normally don’t see two horror movies at the top of the chart. But it was a solid weekend for both movies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “The movie theatres are coming back and Memorial Day was no flash in the pan … It feels like summer again.”

‘The Conjuring 3’ has Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga returning as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Although there’s a whole extended universe set around these films that have thus far grossed over $1.8 billion, this is the first ‘Conjuring’ since 2016, and the first to be helmed by someone other than James Wan (Michael Graves directed). With an additional $26.8 million from international territories, globally, the R-rated pic has grossed over $57.1 million.

“It’s a terrific result,” said Jeff Goldstein, the head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “We’re continuing to see a ramp up of return to life outside of our homes. It was never going to be a light switch.”

In a pre-pandemic world, ‘The Conjuring 3’ might have been considered a bit disappointing — the previous installments both opened around $40 million. But, as Goldstein noted, the third films in a horror franchise often take a hit. It has another caveat too: The film is also currently streaming free for subscribers on HBO Max. Warner Media did not say how many people watched it on streaming over the weekend or how many new customers signed up for the service.

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L-r, Marcus (Noah Jupe), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.” Image Credit: AP

It has become more normal than not for films to embrace a hybrid day-and-date release strategy, with the major studios using their biggest titles to drive potential subscribers to their streaming services. ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ had the rare distinction of being exclusively in theaters, but even so it will be a shorter stint than usual before it hits Paramount.

The Walt Disney Co.’s ‘Cruella’, which opened in theatres last weekend, was also made available to rent on Disney in the US. The Emma Stone and Emma Thompson pic added $11.2 million from 3,922 theaters this weekend to take third place in the US. Disney also did not say how much it earned from streaming rentals, but the company did note the drop from last weekend was only 48 per cent. Globally, ‘Cruella’ has earned $87.1 million thus far.

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Cruella Image Credit: AP

The animated family film ‘Spirit Untamed’ also opened wide theatrically this weekend in the US in 3,211 theaters to an estimated $6.2 million. The DreamWorks Animation film features the voices of Isabela Merced, Eiza Gonzalez, Julianne Moore, Marsai Martin and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The North American theatrical landscape is still a bit hobbled by the pandemic. Most Canadian theaters remain closed and around 27 per cent of US locations are still shuttered too. Many chains have also said vaccinated customers can now go mask free in theatres.

Vin Diesel and John Cena in F9
Vin Diesel and John Cena in F9 Image Credit: Universal Studios

Hollywood titles have also started performing better than they have been internationally during the pandemic over the past few weekends. In particular, Universal’s latest in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, ‘F9’, continued to pick up speed prior to its US debut on June 25. This weekend ‘F9’, which has already grossed $256 million from eight territories, became one of only 19 US movies to have earned more than $200 million in China.