'The Conjuring' Starts Strong with $41.86M

on July 22, 2013 by Daniel Garris
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Warner's The Conjuring easily led the box office this weekend with an impressive $41.86 million debut. The R-rated horror film exceeded its rising pre-release expectations and performed especially well with its modest price tag in mind. It should also be noted that The Conjuring was far less expensive than each of the weekend's other three wide releases.

The Conjuring opened 23 percent stronger than the recent $34.06 million debut of The Purge. The film's $16.96 million Friday start (which included an estimated $3.3 million from late night shows on Thursday) was in the same neighborhood as the $16.78 million Friday debut of The Purge (which included $3.4 million from late night Thursday shows), but The Conjuring held up far stronger throughout its opening weekend than The Purge did. The opening weekend to Friday ratio for The Conjuring was 2.47 to 1, as opposed to the 2.03 to 1 ratio of The Purge. That is a strong early sign for The Conjuring going forward, as high profile horror films are typically far more front-loaded towards Friday than that during opening weekend.

Strong reviews and early word of mouth are clearly helping The Conjuring and it appears that the film's subject matter and strong marketing campaign are helping it appeal to more causal horror fans to begin with. The Conjuring received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which is especially strong for a horror film. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards female moviegoers (53 percent) and fairly heavily towards moviegoers over 25 years old (59 percent).

As was widely expected, Universal's Despicable Me 2 was able to hold off the weekend's other three wide releases to take second place for the frame. The computer animated blockbuster from Illumination Entertainment fell 43 percent to gross $24.91 million. That represented one of the weekend's better holds among wide releases, which is a sign that the film is now stabilizing by family film standards, especially given the new competition it faced from fellow computer animated film Turbo. Despicable Me 2 has grossed a massive $276.01 million in 19 days, making it the third highest grossing release of 2013 domestically thus far. The film will soon overtake Warner's Man of Steel for second place on the list.

Fox's Turbo opened in third place with $21.31 million. The latest computer animated film from DreamWorks Animation debuted towards the lower end of expectations, which were already relatively low for a DreamWorks Animation release due in large part to the film arriving on the scene so shortly after Despicable Me 2. Since its debut on Wednesday, Turbo has grossed $31.02 million in its first five days of release. That is a slim 4 percent below the $32.34 million five-day start of last November's Rise of the Guardians (which also opened on a Wednesday). Turbo did receive a very promising A rating on CinemaScore, though the film's long term prospects could be limited by upcoming competition from both Sony's The Smurfs 2 and Disney's Planes in the near future.

Opening a bit below Turbo was Lionsgate's Red 2. The Bruce Willis led action sequel debuted in fifth place with $18.05 million. That was slightly below expectations and was 17 percent softer than the $21.76 million start of 2010's Red. Given its nature as sequel, Red 2 is likely to be more front-loaded going forward than Red was, though it could still display strong holding power of its own, especially given just how strong Red held up during its run. Red 2 opened with $6.35 million on Friday (which included $0.80 million from late night Thursdays shows), giving it an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.84 to 1. The film received a B+ rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for Red 2 skewed towards male moviegoers (52 percent) and very heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 35 (67 percent).

Coming as no real surprise, Universal's R.I.P.D. delivered the weekend's poorest start among new wide releases. The big-budget action comedy starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds debuted with a very disappointing seventh place take of $12.69 million. That was 22 percent below the $16.31 million debut of last year's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. R.I.P.D. opened with $4.82 million on Friday (which included $0.77 million from late night Thursday shows), giving it an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.63 to 1. Long term prospects don't look encouraging for the film either, especially given its lackluster C+ CinemaScore rating and that being adapted from a comic book should lead to additional front-loading to begin with. The audience breakdown for R.I.P.D. skewed towards male moviegoers (53 percent) and towards moviegoers 25 and older (57 percent).

In its second weekend of release, Sony's Grown Ups 2 fell two spots and a respectable 52 percent to claim fourth with $19.87 million. In comparison, 2010's Grown Ups fell 53 percent in its second weekend to gross $19.05 million. With a solid ten-day start of $79.39 million, the Adam Sandler led Grown Ups 2 is running 2 percent ahead of the $77.63 million ten-day take of Grown Ups.

Meanwhile, Warner's Pacific Rim fell three spots and 57 percent to land in sixth with $16.00 million. Despite strong reviews and seemingly positive word of mouth among moviegoers, Pacific Rim is having a tough time expanding beyond its initial heavily fan driven audience. The Guillermo del Toro directed sci-fi action film has grossed $68.28 million in ten days, placing it 1 percent ahead of the $67.35 million ten-day start of 2011's Cowboys and Aliens.

On the platform front, Fox Searchlight's The Way, Way Back and The Weinstein Company's Fruitvale Station continued to post strong per-location numbers. The Way, Way Back grossed $2.20 million from 304 locations, giving it a per-location average of $7,239. Fruitvale Station grossed $739,484 from just 34 locations, for a per-location average of $21,750. Respective total grosses stand at $4.59 million for The Way, Way Back in 17 days and at $1.33 million for Fruitvale Station in ten days.

Platform results weren't anywhere near as impressive for Roadside's Girl Most Likely and RADiUS-TWC's Only God Forgives. The Kristen Wiig led Girl Most Likely debuted with $694,477 from 351 locations for a soft per-location average of $1,979. The Ryan Gosling led Only God Forgives grossed an $313,958 from 78 locations for a modest per-location average of $4,025.

Tags: The Conjuring, Despicable Me 2, Turbo, Red 2, R.I.P.D., Grown Ups 2, Pacific Rim
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