“The Nun” has conjured up a franchise-best $5.4 million on Thursday night.
Jennifer Garner’s “Peppermint,” meanwhile, made a moderate $800,000 at 2,340 locations.
“The Nun,” the fifth installment in Warner Bros.’ “The Conjuring” horror franchise, is pegged to dominate the domestic box office with forecasts in the $36 million to $45 million range when it debuts at 3,876 theaters.
It’s by far the best preview number for the five movies in the “Conjuring” franchise — “The Conjuring,” “Annabelle,” “The Conjuring 2,” and “Annabelle: Creation” — which has generated more than $1.1 billion globally. “Annabelle: Creation” took in $4 million in previews last year on its way to a $35 million U.S. opening weekend.
“The Nun” is a spinoff of “The Conjuring 2.” It’s set in Romania in 1952 and 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 film, 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 to secure the crown on Aug. 10-12, 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.
“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.
STX and Lakeshore Entertainment’s R-rated action-thriller “Peppermint” will generate between $10 million and $15 million at 2,980 locations. MGM’s R-rated “Death Wish” took in $650,000 in Thursday previews in March, then opened with a $13 million launch weekend on its way to a $34 million domestic total.
Faith-based drama “God Bless the Broken Road,” inspired by the hit Rascal Flatts song, is aiming for a single-digit debut around $3 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.
Thanks to a solid summer, the overall 2018 domestic box office is up 9.7% over last year at $8.36 billion as of Sept. 5, according to comScore. That gap will probably narrow this weekend since the same frame of 2017 saw Warner’s “It” dominate with a massive $123.4 million opening weekend.