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‘The Nun’ Heading for Franchise-Best $44 Million Box Office Opening

The Nun” is heading for a franchise-best $44 million opening weekend at 3,876 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday.

Jennifer Garner’s action-thriller “Peppermint” is performing in line with expectations and will probably wind up the weekend with $12 million at 2,980 sites for STX and Lakeshore. It’s battling for second place with Warner Bros.’ fourth frame of “Crazy Rich Asians.”

The Nun,” the fifth installment in Warner Bros.’ successful “The Conjuring” horror series, had been pegged to dominate the domestic box office with forecasts in the $36 million to $45 million range. “The Conjuring” had the best North American opening with $41.9 million in 2013 on its way to a $137 million domestic total.

“The Nun” is a spinoff of “The Conjuring 2.” Set in Romania in 1952, it stars Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga as a Catholic priest and a novice who are sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun. Gary Dauberman, who previously wrote “Annabelle,” “Annabelle: Creation,” and “It,” penned the script for the movie, which was directed by Corin Hardy.

This will mark the fifth weekend in a row that Warner Bros. has dominated multiplexes. “The Meg,” the studio’s big-budget shark thriller, launched with $45.4 million on Aug. 10-12 to secure the crown, while acclaimed romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” has maintained its reign at No. 1 over the past three weekends. “Crazy Rich Asians” has grossed more than $125 million domestically in its first three weeks, while “The Meg” has pulled in $122 million in four frames.

If the opening for “The Nun” can surpass “The Meg,” it will be the largest box office winner since “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” debuted with $61 million at the end of July.

“The Nun,” which carries a $22 million production budget, is also opening in 60 foreign markets this weekend. It took in $12.1 million from overseas showings on Wednesday and Thursday. Critics have been unimpressed, with a current 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Peppermint” had been pegged to generate between $10 million and $15 million. Garner plays a vigilante mother who sets out for revenge against the cartel that killed her husband and daughter five years earlier. Critics have panned the film, which carries a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Faith-based drama “God Bless the Broken Road,” inspired by the hit Rascal Flatts song, is aiming for less than $2 million at 1,235 venues for Freestyle Releasing. The cast includes “American Idol” alum Jordin Sparks, Robin Givens, Lindsay Pulsipher, and former NFL player LaDainian Tomlinson.

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