Box Office Guru Wrapup: The Conjuring Scares Up Biggest Horror Debut of 2013

Plus, Turbo takes third, and R.I.P.D. lurches into seventh.

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This weekend, following four consecutive frames of animated sequels ruling the North American box office, horror fans returned with a vengeance powering the new supernatural thriller The Conjuring to a number one opening over a crowded weekend that saw four new releases debut in wide release. The R-rated spookfest grossed a sensational $41.5M from 2,903 locations for a sizzling $14,306 average.

The marketing campaign was chilling, reviews were very positive, and social media buzz was red hot going into the weekend, making it a must-see for fright fans who have had almost nothing scary all summer to rally behind. Studio research showed that females led the way with 53% of the audience while 59% were over 25. The CinemaScore grade was an A- which was exceptionally good for a fright flick. The Conjuring scored the biggest opening of 2013 for a pure horror film. Most R-rated films of this genre that open to over $40M are sequels or remakes.

Following its two-week rule of the mid-summer box office, toon giant Despicable Me 2 dropped to the runner-up spot but still held up well despite the entry of a new animated pic. The Universal smash fell 43% to an estimated $25.1M raising the cume to a sensational $276.2M to date. The overseas tally shot up to $308.4M putting the global haul at $584.6M.

Premiering in third place was the DreamWorks toon Turbo with an estimated $21.5M over the weekend and $31.2M over the five days since its Wednesday launch. The Fox release averaged $5,649 from 3,806 theaters across the Friday-to-Sunday period which was decent but not big. Competition from Gru and his Minions certainly took its toll. In fact audiences have spent a gargantuan $525M on the toon sequels Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University over the last month so the original snail tale Turbo found it hard to stand out.

Adam Sandler's comedy sequel Grown Ups 2 dropped 52% in its second weekend to an estimated $20M giving Sony $79.5M in ten days. A final gross in the neighborhood of $130M is likely for Sony, another solid hit for the funnyman.

Opening in fifth place was the Bruce Willis-led spy sequel Red 2 with an estimated $18.5M from 3,016 locations for a decent $6,134 average. That was a few notches below the $21.8M bow of the first Red from the weaker October 2010 play period. The summer slot is more high-profile, but it also features more competition and mature adults have had plenty of compelling action options over the past three months. Reviews for Red 2 were not too strong and the CinemaScore was a respectable B+. The Summit release played older with 67% being over 35 so it may have better legs than the typical summer action sequel. The gender split was close to even with 52% of the crowd being male.

Falling 57% in its second weekend was the sci-fi actioner Pacific Rim with an estimated $16M. The decline for the expensive pic was normal for this genre and the domestic cume of $68.2M should be able to rise to $100-110M by the end of the run for Warner Bros.

The summer's latest big-budget reject R.I.P.D. stumbled into seventh place with a weak opening of an estimated $12.8M and has no future ahead of it. The PG-13 actioner starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds averaged $4,475 from 2,852 locations and was given a thumbs down from critics and paying audiences alike. Reviews were awful and the CinemaScore was a troubling C+ which indicates poor buzz ahead.

Universal reported that R.I.P.D. cost $130M to produce, but the true cost was probably higher than that. The opening came in at less than half of the levels of the summer's other mega-priced action duds After Earth and The Lone Ranger which had debut weekends in the $27-30M range. Studio research showed an audience that was 53% male and 57% over 25. The sci-fi cop comedy never took off with moviegoers and consumer interest was always low since the promotional push first began.

Off only 33% was the hit cop comedy The Heat with an estimated $9.3M, down just 33%, for a $129.3M cume for Fox. Brad Pitt's World War Z followed with an estimated $5.2M, off 44%, for a $186.9M total to date. Two-time chart-topper Monsters University dropped 53% to an estimated $5M giving Disney a sizable $249M to date and $532.9M worldwide.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $174.9M which was down 21% from last year when The Dark Knight Rises opened at number one with $160.9M; and off 2% from 2011 when Captain America bowed to $65.1M.

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