“Warcraft” was heading for a decent $27 million launch at 3,400 venues, edging “Now You See Me 2” with around $21 million to $25 million at 3,232 locations.
Both sequels are coming into a market that’s seeing moviegoers’ appetite for second helpings waning as was the case with “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”
The early range for New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” was particularly wide with estimates from the low 30s to the low 40s with an opening day ranging from $15 million to $18 million. “Warcraft” was heading for an opening day Friday at around $11 million with “Now You See Me 2” taking in $8 million.
Should the $37 million estimate hold for “The Conjuring 2,” it would represent a 12% drop from the launch of “The Conjuring” in 2013. Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” would have declined by 15% from the 2013 opening weekend for the original.
“The Conjuring 2” reunites director James Wan with Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, who return as a husband-wife team of paranormal investigators, three years after the original hauled $320 million worldwide. The duo deals with an 11-year-old, played by Madison Wolfe, who shows signs of demonic possession.
Expectations over U.S. performance have been tamped down in recent weeks for “Warcraft,” Legendary and Universal’s video game adaptation, which carries a hefty $160 million budget. Performance in China has been stellar, by comparison, with a record-setting $90 million in its first two days.
“Now You See Me 2,” which carries a $90 million budget, brings back Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo, and adds Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan. The original caper thriller performed far above expectations with $350 million worldwide in 2013.
The box office should see a major surge next weekend when “Finding Dory,” Disney-Pixar’s follow-up to 2003’s “Finding Nemo,” hits theaters. Projections are as high as $115 million, which would make it the top Pixar release of all time.