Weekend Box Office: The Conjuring Scares Up Highest Grossing Opening For R-Rated Horror, R.I.P.D. Bombs


How do you play Hangman?

Death and taxes may be the only assurances in life, but in the world of Hollywood you can be assured that a new family film offering or horror release are guaranteed a big audience its first weekend of release. This weekend saw the release of The Conjuring from director James Wan. He’s the filmmaker that made his debut as a filmmaker back in the mid-’00s with Saw. It’s a film that ushered in a new subgenre of horror known as “torture porn.” As the film’s success created a profitable horror franchise, Wan made a few features that couldn’t meet the box office success of his first feature. But the release of Insidious in 2010 was met with favorable reviews and modest success when considering its miniscule budget.

With an impressive teaser, The Conjuring arrives the same weekend a heatwave dominates most of the United States. What better way to stay cool than inside a chilled box and getting goosebumps as things go bump in the night. A month ago, The Purge opened with an impressive $34 million. And that was for a crappy horror movie. James Wan’s latest had all the makings to make upwards of that total. I just never would have expected it to vault into the $40 million opening arena. With an estimated $41.5 million, The Conjuring is the highest grossing original R-rated horror of all-time. (For the record, second and third place go to The Purge and The Devil Inside, another crappy demon-possession movie).

Typically, horror gets poor critical response and tepid audience reaction from non-horror fans. But The Conjuring bucks the trend with an impressive aggregate critic score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and a rare “A-” CinemaScore from opening night audiences. Factoring this and the lack of horror competition in the coming weeks, this could be one of those films that has better stability from its opening week to the next. Granted, horror movies in general tend to make their budgets back in the opening weekend (sometimes the opening day depending on the budget) and the rest is gravy.

Spots #2 and #3 on the list are occupied by animated fare. After having a stranglehold atop the list for four weeks straight, animated sequels and prequels saw their reign of box office dominance come to an end. But that doesn’t mean Despicable Me 2 is slowing down. The $76 million film added another $25 million this weekend to bring its domestic total to $276 million (worldwide it is $584.5M). DM2’s performance was so good in its third weekend that it was able to outgross the new animated flick, Turbo.

Turbo had its opening last Wednesday as opposed to Friday. It’s arrival couldn’t have come at a worst time. With Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 raking in the dough throughout June and July, this DreamWorks Animated release, touted as being a kids version of Fast & Furious only with snails, amassed $21.5 million. That total puts its in between Rise of the Guardians and Flushed Away as having the 19th-best opening weekend for a DreamWorks Animation movie. A far cry from The Croods $43 million back in March.

Aside from The Conjuring and Turbo there were two other newcomers that placed in the Top 10. Red 2, which finished in fifth, managed to hit slightly lower than the opening numbers of 2010’s Red ($18.5M vs. $21.7M). It wouldn’t be bad if the sequel hadn’t cost approximately $25 million more to make. I don’t see this one having strong legs like the original, this despite being funnier and faster-paced. However, those who do see it will be treated to John Malkovich killing every scene he’s in, plus a pair of Hannibal Lecters sharing a scene together. Now that’s worth nibbling on some liver and fava beans.

The last new release is Universal’s R.I.P.D.. It looks like we have a winner for biggest box office turkey of the year. The $130M feature was D.O.A. with audiences and critics opening at $12.7 million. I guess all of Ryan Reynolds’ fans went to see him play a NOS-enhanced snail in Turbo. For all the people that were eager to pounce on Taylor Kitsch for being box office poison as the headliner for both John Carter and Battleship, I think Hollywood needs to re-evaluate Reynolds as a star. This is the second comic book adaptation for him that has failed to be a certifiable hit. He shared success with already established stars in films like The Proposal (with Sandra Bullock) and Safe House (with Denzel Washington). We shall see how he does when he takes a step back from tentpoles and action vehicles and works with Atom Egoyan (Queen of the Night) and Half Nelson‘s duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck in Mississippi Grind next year.


More James Hong, Less Ryan Reynolds. It’s that simple.

Last week’s Grown Ups 2, thankfully, dropped 52% in viewership but still managed to take in another $20 million. Pacific Rim dropped 57%t for a $15.9M weekend. Those wondering how The Lone Ranger placed in the top 10. Well, it didn’t. That’s right. In theaters for 18 days and already gone from the top 10 talk. I guess Jerry Bruckheimer is wondering if its 2015 yet so he can push Pirates 5 to the moon.

Don’t look now but World War Z has made more than $450 million worldwide. So much for it being a box office dud. Early conversations about there being a sequel to The Heat look all but a given now. The $43 million R-rated comedy finished in #8 with $9.3M to bring its domestic total to $129.2 million.

In the land of limited releases, big winners include holdovers The Way, Way Back and Fruitvale Station, with $2.2M and $742K respectively. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives opened in 78 theaters and brought in $315K. However, the film that had the highest per-screen average of any movie currently playing was Drafthouse Films’ documentary release The Act of Killing. It played on a single screen and finished with $28.1K.

Support smaller movies, boys and girls.

Weekend Box-Office Top Ten for July 19 – July 21, 2013

1. The Conjuring (Warner Bros.) – $41.5 MILLION

2. Despicable Me 2 (Universal Pictures) – $25 MILLION ($276.1m cume)

3. Turbo (DreamWorks Pictures) – $21.5 MILLION ($31.2m cume)

4. Grown Ups 2 (Columbia Pictures) – $20 MILLION ($79.5m cume)

5. Red 2 (Summit Entertainment) – $18.5 MILLION

6. Pacific Rim (Warner Bros.) – $15.9 MILLION ($68.2m cume)

7. R.I.P.D. (Universal Pictures) – $12.7 MILLION

8. The Heat (20th Century Fox) – $9.3 MILLION ($129.2m cume)

9. World War Z (Paramount Pictures) – $5.2 MILLION ($186.9m cume)

10. Monsters University (Walt Disney Pictures) – $5 MILLION ($248.9m cume)

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