New Line’s horror sequel is expected to win the weekend box office handily with more than $35 million at 3,343 sites, coming in ahead of Universal’s “Warcraft” at 3,400 venues and Lionsgate’s “Now You See Me 2” at 3,232 locations. The Thursday night number for “The Conjuring 2” came in slightly above the $3.3 million preview gross for 2013’s “The Conjuring,” which went on to open with $41.9 million.
“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 became a surprise hit with $320 million worldwide. The duo deals with an 11-year-old, played by Madison Wolfe, who shows signs of demonic possession, in a story set in 1977 London.
“The Conjuring 2” and “Now You See Me 2” are coming into a sequel-heavy market that’s recently seen disappointing performances from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
“Warcraft,” Legendary and Universal’s video game adaptation, carries a pricey $160 million budget, but has performed impressively overseas with $90 million in its first two days in China and another $80 million from the rest of the international market.
“Now You See Me 2,” which carries a $90 million budget, is bringing back Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo, and adding Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan to the mix. The original caper thriller performed above expectations with $350 million worldwide in 2013.
The original “Now You See Me” grossed $1.5 million in previews on its way to a $29.4 million domestic opening weekend and finished with $117 million
Salvation should arrive next weekend when “Finding Dory,” Disney-Pixar’s follow-up to 2003’s smash “Finding Nemo,” is projected to rack up more than $115 million.