Box Office Report: Horror Comes Home As 'Annabelle: Creation' Gives Warner Bros. Another Win

Box Office Report: Horror Comes Home As 'Annabelle: Creation' Gives Warner Bros. Another Win

Aug 14, 2017

Annabelle: CreationHere's your estimated 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Annabelle: Creation - $35.0 million ($35.0 million total)

2. Dunkirk - $11.4 million ($153.7 million total)

3. The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature - $8.9 million ($8.9 million total)

4. The Dark Tower - $7.8 million ($34.3 million total)

5. The Emoji Movie - $6.58 million ($63.5 million total)

6. Girls Trip - $6.52 million ($97.1 million total)

7. Spider-Man: Homecoming - $6.1 million ($306.4 million total)

8. Kidnap - $5.2 million ($19.3 million total)

9. The Glass Castle - $4.8 million ($4.8 million total)

10. Atomic Blonde - $4.5 million ($42.8 million total)

 

The Big Stories

All summer we’ve been wondering when the horror shoe was going to drop. Forget about Alien: Covenant and The Mummy, both of which contained horror elements but were also big-budget tentpole films that moviegoers clearly had enough of. 47 Meters Down is an unusual success story in its own right but it only modestly played to the hardcore horror fans that have helped turn low-cost films from Blumhouse into huge financial boons. Apparently there is another dark universe that the base (and more) are ready and willing to embrace and it is that of the now-dubbed Conjuring Universe.

 

Creepy Dolls Play

Though Warner Bros. played games with critics in certain major markets this week over who they wanted to see Annabelle: Creation – no doubt hedging their bets over a high Rotten Tomatoes score that came after early screenings at Comic-Con – the film still arrives in theaters with a 68% fresh rating. And for good reason – 'cause it’s good. The Conjuring Universe is only four films deep (with a fifth on the way in 2018 with The Nun) but they have had a remarkable consistency on opening weekend. The Conjuring and its sequel opened to $41.8 and $40.4 million, respectively. In 2014, Annabelle opened to $37.1 million and now the prequel to a prequel to a prologue has started with $35 million.

But there is a difference.

The Conjuring received an 86% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and the result was a 3.28 multiple over its opening weekend. Annabelle arrived with just 29% support from written critical reviews and its ultimate multiple was a mere 2.26. Sure, one can point to The Conjuring 2 receiving an 80% and only finishing with a 2.53 multiple – but that can be expected of sequels. The Conjuring films were also both summer releases, while Annabelle was an October release, where it has the 12th best opening ever in that month.

Of those top 12 openings, half of them couldn’t reach a 2.5 multiple and only four (Gravity, Gone Girl, The Martian, Shark Tale) got over 3.0. On just a $15 million budget and an additional $36.7 million in overseas sales, Annabelle: Creation is already in profit for Warner Bros. The question now is if audience’s word-of-mouth is more like Freddy vs. Jason ($36.4 million opening / 41% RT / 2.26 multiple) and The Final Destination ($27.4 / 29% / 2.42) or something closer to last year’s Don’t Breathe ($26.4 / 87% / 3.37.) Either way, a first estimate of $81 million wouldn’t surpass the gross of the first film but profit-wise it would make for a worthy edition to WB and James Wan’s Conjuring Universe.

 

The Open Road Less Traveled

The highest-grossing film that Open Road Films has ever put out, domestically and worldwide, was The Nut Job. It grossed $64.2 million at home and a total of over $110 million worldwide. It’s the only film they have had to gross over $100 million total – and they have an Oscar-winning Best Picture under their label in Spotlight. Tom McCarthy’s film was also the highest-rated film they have put out (96%), followed closely by Nightcrawler (95%). Dan Gilroy’s film is also notable because it is the last film they distributed to open to more than $10 million.

Between September 2011 and July 2014, the studio had five films open to higher than that (out of 17.) They have had 15 films open wide since Nightcrawler and the best opening they’ve had was Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day with $8.36 million. The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature was supposed to end that streak. It didn’t.

The animated sequel did make history, though, by having the lowest opening ever for a film launched into over 4,000 theaters. Of the 92 previous films to do that, the two lowest openings were actually released this year in The Emoji Movie ($24.5 million / 8% RT) and The Mummy ($31.6 million / 16% RT). 

Opening to just $8.9 million this weekend, The Nut Job 2 also managed the same Rotten Tomatoes score that Open Road’s release of Spark: A Space Tail (remember that one?) did with 11%. That is actually slightly better than the first film which stands at just 10%. Perhaps that’s one of Open Road’s biggest problems. Of the 38 films they have now put out (wide or limited), only 12 of them have come up “fresh” with critics (Spotlight, Nightcrawler, Gleason, Dope, Chef, Side Effects, End of Watch, The Grey, Rosewater, Bleed for This, Before I Fall, Snowden). Even more shocking, 14 of those 38 have had a score of 20% or less (including a 0% for Max Steel – with just 20 reviews), now 15 with The Nut Job 2.

The best Open Road could possibly hope for at this point is for this to be their highest-grossing film since Mother’s Day. But it would take a 3.64 multiple for it to even surpass its $32.4 million – which is just a little better than half of what The Nut Job made back in 2013. Open Road’s future may now be dependent on Reese Witherspoon when Home Again opens in September.

 

Tales of the Top Ten

We’ve been using Interstellar as a measure for whether or not Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk could reach $200 million. Thanks to a fourth weekend where his sci-fi epic actually outgrossed its third weekend, his WWII epic is now just $5+ million ahead of the pace. That would give Dunkirk somewhere between $193-194 million domestic. (It’s over $517 million worldwide and, like Annabelle: Creation, in profit for WB.) Do not be surprised if Dunkirk has one of those increased weekends between now and Labor Day. Since 1999, 42 films with a Rotten Tomatoes score over 90% have grossed over $200 million domestic. Dunkirk hopes to be #43 with a 93% rating.

Interstellar star Matthew McConaughey saw his villainous turn in The Dark Tower go from #1 last week to a 59% drop this week. The critically-derided Stephen King adaptation (18% RT) now finds itself $4 million off the pace of Spawn, which finished with $54 million and only about a million ahead of Final Destination 5’s $42.5 million. As of right now, it is Sony’s biggest loser since last year’s Ghostbusters. Their 8%-rated The Emoji Movie still needs roughly $74 million more before it hits profit as well. Thankfully, Spider-Man Homecoming passed $300 million domestic this week and is over $702 million worldwide. An even greater victory has come for Edgar Wright and Baby Driver which just passed $100 million in the U.S. That is more than his previous four acclaimed films combined. Congratulations!

Lionsgate’s The Glass Castle never had much of a chance with a limited launch of 1,461 theaters, especially with a split vote of 50% with critics. Its opening of $4.8 million is similar to last year’s not-good-enough-for-awards-season late summer launch of The Light Between Oceans into 1,500 theaters with a $4.76 million start. It finished with just $12.5 million. Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit (84% RT) will also have its award chances questioned after it dropped out of the Top Ten in just its second week of wide release. It has made $13.4 million to date. Universal’s Girls Trip (88% RT), on the other hand, will be hitting $100 million by next Friday.


Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

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