Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters.
“La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, “La Llorona” and other new releases “Breakthrough” and “Penguins” couldn’t salvage movie theaters from suffering the worst Easter weekend showing in almost 15 years. This weekend’s offerings amassed a combined $112 million in ticket sales, the lowest haul since 2005, according to Comscore. The decline in sales is likely because the rest of Hollywood avoided opening a big movie ahead of Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which is expected to crush records when it debuts on April 26.
“The Curse of La Llorona” also launched this weekend in 71 international markets, where it collected $30 million for a global start of $56.5 million. The R-rated supernatural thriller, based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, carries a $9 million production budget. James Wan, known for his work on “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring,” and “Saw,” served as a producer.
Negative reviews didn’t deter moviegoers, who branded “The Curse of La Llorona” with a B- CinemaScore. Hispanics accounted for roughly 50% of opening weekend audiences, and 60% of ticket buyers were over 25 years old.
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“We are thrilled how much it overperformed,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution. “The folklore of the Weeping Woman is so prevalent throughout Latino culture that even with its rating, it transcended expectations.”
Warner Bros. and New Line claimed the top two spots at the box office as last weekend’s champ “Shazam!” dropped to second place. The DC comic-book adventure added another $17 million in its third weekend of release, taking ticket sales to $121 million at the domestic market. Overseas, “Shazam!” crossed the $200 million mark for a worldwide total of $322.8 million.
“Breakthrough,” a faith-based film about a parent’s unwavering love for their children, debuted at No. 3, generating $11 million over the weekend and $14 million during its first five days of release. That’s a solid start for “Breakthrough,” Disney’s first Fox release since the $71 billion merger, considering the film cost $14 million to produce. Roxann Dawson directed the movie, which was produced by DeVon Franklin (“Miracles from Heaven,” “Heaven Is for Real,”) and executive produced by NBA star Stephen Curry.
“Roxann Dawson, DeVon Franklin, and the Fox 2000 team have delivered a wonderfully crafted, deeply emotional film that we’re thrilled to see resonating with audiences,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of global distribution. “And with excellent reviews and word of mouth, we expect a healthy run ahead.”
Overseas, “Breakthrough” earned $5.9 million for a global start of $20.5 million. “Breakthrough” stars “This Is Us” actress Chrissy Metz as a mother who refuses to give up hope after her adopted son suffers a near-fatal fall through an icy lake. Females accounted for 65% of the domestic opening weekend crowd for “Breakthrough,” while 70% of moviegoers were over the age of 25. Audiences embraced the film, giving it an A CinemaScore.
“It’s very encouraging to have such a strong start,” Franklin said. “The response we’ve been getting from people is they are having a cathartic emotional experience. Given the climate of things going on in the world, a film like ‘Breakthrough’ can really provide inspiration.”
Disney also released “Penguins,” a documentary narrated by Ed Helms. It debuted below expectations, picking up $2.3 million from 1,815 venues and $3.3 million through its first five days in theaters.
In fourth place, Disney’s “Captain Marvel” pocketed $9 million in its seventh weekend in theaters. That bounty puts the female-fronted superhero movie past the $400 million mark in North America. “Captain Marvel” likely saw a bump in ticket sales as fans ready for “Avengers: Endgame,” the final chapter to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Captain Marvel” has now earned $1.09 billion, making it the eighth biggest superhero movie of all time.
Universal’s “Little” rounded out the top five with $8 million for a domestic tally of $29 million.
At the specialty box office, “Her Smell,” a musical drama starring Elisabeth Moss, continued its platform release. It picked up $68,736 when expanded to 24 theaters ($2,864 per screen), bringing its domestic total to $117,577.
Another musically-infused title, LD Entertainment and Bleecker Street’s “Teen Spirit,” picked up $250,536 when it expanded to 696 theaters, averaging a disappointing $360 per venue. The film, directed by Max Minghella and starring Elle Fanning, has grossed $305,356 to date.
Elsewhere, “Under the Silver Lake,” A24’s drama with Andrew Garfield, debuted in two locations, grossing $40,157 for a per-screen-average of $20,079.
Magnolia opened director Penny Lane’s Satantic Temple documentary “Hail Satan?” in three venues, where it earned $25,700.
Overall, the domestic box office is pacing nearly 17% behind last year, according to Comscore. Industry prognosticators aren’t worried about the decline in ticket sales — Thanos and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are gearing up to save the day.