‘Annabelle’ scares up $35 mil­lion in open­ing week

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE

NEW YORK | The “Con­jur­ing” spinoff “Annabelle: Cre­ation” scared up an es­ti­mated $35 mil­lion in North Amer­i­can the­aters over the week­end, mak­ing it eas­ily the top film and giv­ing the lag­ging Au­gust box of­fice a shot in the arm.

The open­ing came close to match­ing the film’s pre­de­ces­sor, “Annabelle,” which opened with $37.1 mil­lion in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Warner Bros. could cel­e­brate hav­ing not only the month’s big­gest de­but but also the week’s top two films. Christo­pher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” fol­lowed in se­cond with $11.4 mil­lion in its fourth week­end, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day.

Even amid an es­pe­cially weak Au­gust, the well­re­viewed hor­ror se­quel and mod­estly bud­geted “Annabelle: Cre­ation” found ea­ger au­di­ences.

“That we were able to do $35 mil­lion in what is a very slug­gish mar­ket­place was very im­pres­sive,” said Jeffrey Gold­stein, Warner Bros.’ dis­tri­bu­tion chief. “We all know that moviego­ing begets moviego­ing and right now it’s a dip in the con­tent over­all.”

The film, the third to spi­ral out of 2013’s “The Con­jur­ing,” cost only about $15 mil­lion to make. More se­quels and spinoffs are be­ing de­vel­oped in what has be­come for Warner Bros. a steadily prof­itable hor­ror fran­chise bent on old-school frights. The “Annabelle” off­shoot cen­ters on a pos­sessed doll.

Last week’s top film, the poorly re­ceived Stephen King adap­ta­tion “The Dark Tower,” slid dra­mat­i­cally. The Sony Pic­tures re­lease, star­ring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, top­pled nearly 60 per­cent on its se­cond week­end with an es­ti­mated $7.9 mil­lion.

The week’s other new en­try, the Open Road an­i­mated re­lease “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Na­ture,” edged just above “The Dark Tower” with $8.9 mil­lion. That was well be­low the 2014 de­but of the orig­i­nal, “The Nut Job,” which opened with $19.4 mil­lion.

But the solid re­turns for “Annabelle: Cre­ation” did lit­tle to counter the box-of­fice slide. Ahead of the week­end, the do­mes­tic box of­fice was 11 per­cent from the pace of 2016’s sum­mer. This week­end also was down con­sid­er­ably from the same pe­riod last year, when “Sui­cide Squad” was lead­ing the box of­fice de­spite bru­tal re­views.

Some of July’s bright spots, how­ever, have con­tin­ued into Au­gust. The sum­mer’s top com­edy, “Girls Trip,” will soon sur­pass $100 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally. The movie, star­ring Jada Pin­kett Smith and Queen Lat­i­fah, took in $6.5 mil­lion in its fourth week to bring its cu­mu­la­tive to­tal to $97.2 mil­lion. It may end up dou­bling the gross of its clos­est sum­mer com­edy com­pe­ti­tion: the star­rier and pricey “Bay­watch” ($58.1 mil­lion in its en­tire run).

In lim­ited re­lease, the A24 crime thriller “Good Time,” star­ring Robert Pat­tin­son, de­buted with a ro­bust $34,000 per-screen av­er­age on four screens. That was bet­tered, though, by the $47,000 screen-av­er­age of Neon’s “In­grid Goes West,” with Aubrey Plaza, on three screens. Both films ex­pand in com­ing weeks.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

“Annabelle: Cre­ation” pulled in $35 mil­lion. Stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives are plan­ning se­quels and spinoffs.

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