Box Office: ‘Scary Stories’ Scares up $2.3 Million on Thursday Night

Lionsgate’s thriller “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” has opened with a solid $2.3 million at more than 2,500 North American locations in Thursday night previews.

Paramount’s family adventure “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” took in $1.3 million in previews, while Disney-Fox’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain” fetched $450,000 at preview screenings. Warner Bros.’ crime drama “The Kitchen,” starring Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy, is also debuting this weekend after abstaining from previews.

Universal’s second weekend of “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” and Disney’s forth frame of “The Lion King” are expected to battle for first place in the $20 million to $25 million range. “Scary Stories” and “Dora” will likely follow with somewhere between $15 million and $19 million in what should be one of the summer’s closest races.

“Scary Stories,” based on the children’s book series of horror tales, is launching at 3,315 locations. Producer Guillermo del Toro selected “Trollhunter” director André Øvredal to direct the adaptation, and shares story credit with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, with a screenplay by Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman.

The PG-13 film is set in 1968 America in the small town of Mill Valley, where a book of stories written by troubled young girl from the 1800s becomes real for a group of teens. “Scary Stories,” which was co-produced and co-financed by CBS Films and Entertainment One, has scored well with critics and carries an 82% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Dora the Explorer’s big-screen debut stars Isabela Moner as Dora, who’s starting high school and dealing with her parents (portrayed by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) going missing — leading to Dora trying to solve the mystery of a lost Inca civilization. “Dora” is launching at 3,735 venues amid mostly positive reviews with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

“Hobbs & Shaw,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, has generated $79 million at the domestic box office in its first six days along with $119 million internationally. The movie carries a muscular $200 million production budget.

The Lion King” is launching its fourth frame with $449 million domestically in its first 20 days. The photo-realistic remake of the 1994 animated classic has already topped $1.2 billion worldwide.

The weekend arrives with year-to-date box office at $7.13 billion — down 6.5% as of Aug. 7, according to Comscore. Summer is even at $3.65 billion.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said it’s a typical scenario. “August has a well-earned reputation as a dumping ground for films trying to get in on the summer box-office action before the official end of the season, but the good news is that historically some very interesting and notable films have also been released during this final month of the summer,” he added.

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