Spooky season is most definitely here. While studios will certainly mix things up by releasing films of different genres in the coming weeks, this is the time of year for horror to shine, and it's already properly taken over the box office. Last week, Michael Chaves' The Nun II kicked things off in solid fashion by being another win for The Conjuring Universe, but this time around, we have a close race playing out – with The Nun II doing battle with Kenneth Branagh's latest Hercule Poirot mystery, A Haunting In Venice, to be the #1 title domestically.
The early numbers are in, and the two films are neck-and-neck. Check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.
While Selling Fewer Tickets, The Nun II Has Much Better Second Weekend Than Its Predecessor
Corin Hardy's The Nun had what could be called a box office run with mixed results when it was released in 2018. The film unquestionably had a phenomenal opening, breaking records for The Conjuring Universe by making $53.8 million... but the movie also didn't get an impressive critical response, and it received a "C" grade from CinemaScore surveys. Reflecting this, the movie had a rough second Friday-to-Sunday – its domestic profits plunging 66 percent weekend-to-weekend. The film still ended up being a crazy successful blockbuster, making $363.4 million worldwide, but that was an unignorable part of the story during its box office run.
Five years later, The Nun II finds itself in a better position than its predecessor as far as "image" is concerned. As noted in last week's box office column, the film debuted in theaters making significantly less than The Nun ($32.6 million, to be more specific), but it experienced a far softer weekend-to-weekend drop of 55 percent. According to The Numbers, the sequel has added $14.7 million to its domestic haul, and to date it has made $56.5 million from theaters in the United States and Canada.
According to Deadline, The Nun II was a more expensive movie to make than The Nun, with a pre-marketing/publicity budget of $38.5 million, but the film is already well on its way to being a financial success. It won't end up making $300 million, but globally it has already brought in $158.8 million. After a little more than a full week in theaters, its presently the 30th biggest domestic release of 2023 (only about $1.1 million away from surpassing David F. Sandberg's Shazam! Fury Of The Gods), and worldwide its the 31st place behind Jeff Rowe's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (which mas made $167.2 million to date).
Within The Conjuring Universe, it will have to make quite a bit more money to start climbing up the ranks. It's not presently sitting in last place (that position belongs to Michael Chaves' The Curse Of La Llorona, which ended its 2019 worldwide box office run making $123.1 million), but it will need to make $41.5 million to outgross Chaves' The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It from 2021, which was the seventh film in the franchise to earn over $200 million globally.
One big issue that The Nun II faces as far as long term success is competition. As noted, the movie was in prime position to kick off spooky season by being released in the second weekend of September, but that also means that its core audience will have a number of titles vying for its attention as we get ever closer to Halloween 2023. David Gordon Green's The Exorcist: Believer and Kevin Greutert's Saw X are just two of the high profile titles, not to mention the big wide release that just came out this past Friday, which surely stole at least a small fraction of the Conjuring crowd...
A Haunting In Venice May Have To Settle For Second Place Thanks To Its Tepid Opening Weekend
After Kenneth Branagh's Murder On The Orient Express made over $350 million worldwide in 2017, 20th Century Studios heavily invested in the big screen future of Hercule Poirot... but things haven't quite worked out as well as hoped. Branagh's star-studded Death On The Nile cost $90 million to make, but released at a time when the box office was still being hampered by COVID-19 (February 2022), the film only made $130.3 million by the time its theatrical run ended. Financially, more restraint was shown in the making of the latest sequel, A Haunting In Venice – which had a $60 million budget (per Variety) – but the movie still isn't exactly off to what could be called a hot start.
After its first three days, A Haunting In Venice has made $14.5 million domestically, which is better than the $12.9 million debut for Death On The Nile, but it looks like it won't be enough for the film to wear the weekend's box office crown. The film has received a relatively strong critical reception (Mike Reyes' CinemaBlend review calls it "both riveting and disturbing"), but pre-release buzz hasn't translated to significantly stronger debut numbers.
Factoring in money from overseas, A Haunting In Venice has made $37.2 million worldwide – and like the case with The Nun II, its legs will be interesting to watch. It's unclear at present if Kenneth Branagh has the desire to extend his run as Hercule Poirot beyond the existing trilogy, but ticket sales may end up making the choice for him.
Barbie Passes Avengers: Age Of Ultron On The All Time Worldwide Box Office Rankings
Greta Gerwig's Barbie came out nearly two months ago, but the film just won't stop generating headlines. As you can see from the chart up top, it's still one of the biggest titles playing in theaters domestically – and as the money keeps rolling in, the movie just keeps breaking records and surpassing titles on the all time worldwide chart. Today, we can report that the 2023 hit has now earned more money than Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which made $1.4 billion when it hit theaters in 2015.
Barbie is now the 14th biggest film of all time (unadjusted for inflation), and it will need to make another $50 million to surpass Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck's Frozen II.
Looking ahead to next weekend, we should see some interesting competition at the box office, as the current Top 10 will get a shakeup with the arrival of Scott Waugh's Expend4bles and Bishal Dutta's hyped horror movie It Lives Inside. Head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for our report on the results, and check out our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to discover all of the big titles set to come out between now and the end of the year.