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Box Office: ‘Annabelle: Creation’ to Lead Another Sluggish Summer Weekend

If we are in the midst of the movie business’ summer of hell, one starring a demon-possessed doll might as well top the charts.

That appears to be the case for Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Annabelle: Creation.” The fourth installment in what has become the “Conjuring” extended universe is casting its evil eye on about $25 million this weekend. Some tracking suggests it should earn $30 million. Either way, off a $15 million budget, the horror installment should be quite profitable.

While the horror genre routinely beats out expectations, “Annabelle 2” looks to come in below the first “Annabelle” ($37.1 million); “The Conjuring” ($41.9 million); and “The Conjuring 2” ($40.4 million). David F. Sandberg directed the sequel about a dollmaker whose creation terrorizes a group of orphan girls. For those invested in the “Conjuring” canon, it serves as a prequel to the first “Annabelle.” Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, and Miranda Otto star in the pic that critics have generally given a thumbs up to (it currently has an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes).

The horror sequel should steal the top spot on the domestic charts from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower,” which led last weekend with only $19.2 million. The same could go for Open Road’s animated sequel “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,” which is opening in 4,003 locations. The story of a group of animals who attempt to save their home from being bulldozed and turned into an amusement park, is aiming to make about $15 million. That’s slightly below the first “Nut Job” movie, which opened to $19.4 million before going on to take in $120.9 million worldwide during its run.

That leaves Lionsgate’s “The Glass Castle,” an adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ popular 2005 memoir, which is tracking for a soft opening of $5 million, or at the most in the high single digits. The adult drama brings with it the star power of Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson. Larson reunited with “Short Term 12” director Destin Daniel Cretton for the project, who helmed the project from a script he penned along with Andrew Lanham and Marti Noxon. The film, which has received mixed reviews, tells the story of Walls’ dysfunctional and nomadic family life as a child.

The Weinstein Company’s “Wind River,” which performed well at four locations last weekend, will expand to about 45. It’s met, in limited release, by a number of fresh films including A24’s “Good Time” starring Robert Pattinson, Neon’s “Ingrid Goes West,” and Roadside Attractions’ “The Only Living Boy in New York.”

All this during a weekend that could use a serious boost. Last weekend’s total domestic gross came in below the opening weekend of just a single film — “Suicide Squad” — the year prior. As of Sunday, the summer box office was more than 10% behind last year, and the year was dragging by 3%. All eyes are on a few major releases at the end of the year to see if there’s a possibility that ticket sales might recover.

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