2019 has seen a number of franchises stumble hard with their sequels and reboots. Yet Warner Bros has one of the sturdiest series in recent memory with the Conjuring Cinematic Universe. Next week brings the third edition of the Annabelle entries and I don’t see fatigue among horror fans happening here.
AnnabelleComesHome marks the directorial debut of Gary Dauberman, who penned both predecessors and last fall’s spin-off TheNun. Mckenna Grace and Madison Iseman star and this time Conjuring leads Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga join the doll party.
As mentioned, this has been a mighty profitable franchise for its studio. After five pictures, the lowest opening belongs to Annabelle: Creation at $35 million two summers ago. However, it legged out better than 2014’s Annabelle ($102 million vs. $84 million). Any thought of the series dwindling was dispelled last fall when TheNun took in $53 million for the best premiere of all.
What might give this Annabelle the lowest debut yet is a matter of logistics. This one opens on Wednesday and that will certainly eat into its traditional weekend haul. I still foresee a high 20s Friday to Sunday gross and high 40s when factoring in the extra two days.
AnnabelleComesHome opening weekend prediction: $27.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $38 million (Wednesday to Sunday)
Next weekend could provide an interesting answer to a question not posed before – how much can a Conjuring series picture gross if a lot of moviegoers may not be aware it’s actually part of the franchise? I give you TheCurseofLaLlorona, the sixth entry in this scary supernatural cinematic universe. The 1970s set ghost tale is directed by Michael Chaves in his feature-length debut (he’s slated to be behind the camera for the third official Conjuring flick next year). Linda Cardellini headlines a cast that includes Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Tony Amendola (reprising his Annabelle role), and Sean Patrick Thomas.
Llorona premiered last month at the South by Southwest Festival. Early reviews are mixed to negative with a current 44% Rotten Tomatoes score. At the time of its unveiling, it was a bit of a surprise that this even existed in the billion dollar worldwide franchise. It’s a legitimate question as to whether the marketing campaign has had enough time to establish that fact.
In my view, that almost certainly means this will experience the lowest debut of the series so far. Horror fans have certainly had options lately with Us and PetSematary. That said, it’s a risky group of films to bet against. Just last fall, TheNun unexpectedly set the franchise opening weekend high mark at $53 million. The lowest start belongs to Annabelle: Creation at a still impressive $35 million. That creepy doll, by the way, is back this June with AnnabelleComesHome.
Tracking currently has this at $20 million and that sounds about right.
TheCurseofLaLlorona opening weekend prediction: $20.1 million
Blogger’s Note (10/12/18): A week before its premiere, I’m revising my estimate up from $67.2 million to $75.4 million
Next weekend, the latest Halloween entry arrives in theaters and this one does so with a twist. While this is the 11th installment in the 40-year-old franchise, it ignores everything that happened in parts 2-10 and serves as a direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter classic. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode with Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers) donning the mask once again. David Gordon Green, known for pics as varied as Pineapple Express and last year’s Boston Marathon drama Stronger, directs and is co-writer along with comedic actor Danny McBride. Blumhouse Productions is behind this and they have proven themselves as masters of making low-budget horror flicks hugely profitable ventures (the price tag is only a reported $10 million). Costars include Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, and Will Patton.
This is actually Curtis’s fifth time playing her iconic character when including Halloween II, 1998’s Halloween: H20, and Halloween: Resurrection. Just pay no mind to anything that happened to her in those follow-ups. The release date timed for the actual holiday and the return of the series best known player has created some serious buzz. So did its screening at the Toronto Film Festival where it premiered to solid reviews (Rotten Tomatoes is currently at 85%).
Add all that up and Halloween appears primed to scare up big business. The current record holder for biggest horror debut of all time belongs to last year’s It at $123 million and that mark seems unattainable. However, this seems poised to top 2018’s The Nun, which premiered with $53 million. I believe a mid 70s gross is where Laurie and Michael will stake their claim, which would give it the second highest October debut behind Venom.
Halloween opening weekend prediction: $75.4 million
The October box office gets underway this weekend with a strong likelihood that the month’s record will be broken as the comic book adaptation Venom and Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga Oscar hopeful and musical drama A Star Is Born open. You can peruse my individual detailed prediction posts on them here:
Both are expected to post impressive debuts. The current October record holder is from five years ago when Gravity made $55.7 million out of the gate. Venom is tracking to open between $60-$70 million. I believe it will match expectations and premiere on the lower end of that range, taking the all-time monthly debut with it.
While Venom could always fail to meet projections, I believe the real wild card here is A Star Is Born. Ever since it screened on the film festival circuit, praise and awards buzz has been loud for Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut and third remake of a tale that began in the 1930s. My initial estimate last week was $37.6 million and it has now risen to $48.6 million. It’s not out of the question that the projection could continue to rise during the week.
The two newcomers will easily take the top spots. As for holdovers, Smallfoot seems destined to experience a smaller drop than current champ Night School. I expect them to place 3rd and 4th, respectively, with The House with a Clock in Its Walls rounding out the top five.
And with that, my top five take on the big record-breaking weekend ahead:
Predicted Gross: $62.5 million
2. A Star Is Born
Predicted Gross: $48.6 million
Predicted Gross: $13.6 million
4. Night School
Predicted Gross: $12.7 million
5. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Predicted Gross: $7 million
Box Office Results (September 28-30)
As expected, the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy NightSchool opened in first place with $27.2 million, a bit under my $31.6 million prediction. While not reaching the heights of some other Hart laughers, it’s still a solid start. I do expect a fairly large drop this weekend.
Warner Bros animated Smallfoot premiered in line with expectations at $23 million. My prediction? $23 million! I foresee a second weekend drop around 35-40 percent.
TheHousewithaClockinItsWalls dropped to third with $12.6 million, falling further than my second weekend estimate of $15.3 million. It’s made $44 million thus far.
ASimpleFavor was fourth with $6.5 million (I said $7 million) for a three-week tally of $43 million.
TheNun rounded out the top five with $5.4 million (I said $5.5 million) for an overall gross of $109 million.
Halloween themed horror pic HellFest yielded unimpressive results in sixth place with $5.1 million, in line with my $5.6 million projection.
Finally, the Pure Flix version of LittleWomen was a total bust this weekend with just $705,000 for 16th place. I was more generous at $1.1 million.
**Blogger’s Note (09/27/18): My estimates for Night School and Smallfoot has risen slightly to $31.6 million and $23 million respectively.
It could be a battle for the #1 spot at the box office as September closes with the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School and the animated Warner Bros family pic Smallfoot debuting. We also have the Halloween theme park set horror flick Hell Fest opening. You can peruse my detailed individual prediction posts on the trio here:
Before we get to the heavy hitters, the Pure Flix version of Little Women is also out Friday on a low 600 or so screens. I didn’t do a separate post for it and I’m not expecting much out of it. I’ll put its premiere at just $1.1 million.
Kevin Hart has shown his potency at the box office repeatedly with several openings north of $30 million. I don’t have Night School reaching quite that high, but my mid to late 20s estimate is enough to project it will top the lower to mid 20s gross of Smallfoot.
Competition for Smallfoot will include the second weekend of The House with a Clock in Its Walls, which performed on the higher end of expectations out of the gate. It should drop to third place with A Simple Favor in fourth.
The five-spot is where I expect Hell Fest to compete. Horror movies always have the capacity to outdo expectations, but I’m not seeing much fanfare for this one. My mid single digits prediction could put it in range with the fourth weekend of The Nun.
And with that, a top 6 take on the weekend ahead:
1. Night School
Predicted Gross: $31.6 million
Predicted Gross: $23 million
3. The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Predicted Gross: $15.3 million
4. A Simple Favor
Predicted Gross: $7 million
5. Hell Fest
Predicted Gross: $5.6 million
6. The Nun
Predicted Gross: $5.5 million
Box Office Results (September 21-23)
As anticipated, The House with a Clock in Its Walls topped the charts with a solid $26.6 million (ahead of my $23.2 million take). The Jack Black family pic, as mentioned, hit the better end of estimates. Considering its reported $40 million budget, this should be a nice hit for Universal.
A Simple Favor elevated from third place to second place in its sophomore weekend with $10.2 million, in line with my $10.6 million projection. Its total stands at $32 million.
The Nun crossed the $100 million mark placing third with $9.9 million (ahead of my $8.4 million estimate). Only Annabelle of the Conjuring Cinematic Universe didn’t manage to join the century club and The Nun appears poised to be the franchise’s second largest earner behind The Conjuring.
The Predator dipped mightily in weekend #2 to fourth place with a 63% fall and $9.1 million (I said $10 million) for $40 million overall.
Crazy Rich Asians was fifth with $6.3 million (I went with $5.9 million) for $159 million overall.
The newcomers besides Clock all failed to connect with moviegoers. Michael Moore’s doc (despite significant publicity) was a flop. While Fahrenheit 9/11 took in nearly $24 million in its first weekend in the summer of 2004, 11/9 managed a paltry $3 million for 8th place. I predicted $5 million.
Life Itself couldn’t overcome overwhelmingly negative reviews and the drama from “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman was 11th with a putrid $2.1 million. I was a bit higher at $3.8 million.
I didn’t make a prediction on the blog for Assassination Nation (though I said $1.2 million on Fantasy Movie League), but it was another bad opening in 15th place with $1 million.
Set in a Halloween theme park, the horror flick HellFest will attempt to bring in genre fans next weekend. It’s directed by Gregory Plotkin, who’s known more for his work as an editor (GetOut, HappyDeathDay). He did make ParanormalActivity: TheGhostDimension. The cast includes Amy Forsyth, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, and Tony Todd (otherwise known as Candyman from that franchise).
HellFest debuts in the middle of considerably more high-profile fright fests TheNun and Halloween. Opening on approximately 2200 screens, awareness seems rather low. That said, horror fans can sometimes cause larger than expected grosses.
I’m not seeing it here. I’ll project a mid to maybe high single digits premiere.
The family fantasy film The House with a Clock in Its Walls looks to get its hands on the #1 spot at the box office this weekend as it opens alongside the Michael Moore political doc Fahrenheit 11/9 and ensemble drama Life Itself. If you missed my detailed prediction posts on that trio, you can find them here:
My low to mid 20s forecast for Clock should be more than enough for it to top the charts. The rest of the top 5 could be a bit more interesting. The Predator had a so-so debut and I look for it to experience a pretty hefty drop. Same goes for The Nun in its third weekend. A Simple Favor, on the other hand, could experience a solid hold in its sophomore frame.
As for the newcomers, my measly $3.8 million projection for Life Itself leaves it outside the top 5 while Fahrenheit ($5 million estimate) could battle for Crazy Rich Asians for that five-spot. And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:
1. The House with a Clock In Its Walls
Predicted Gross: $23.2 million
2. A Simple Favor
Predicted Gross: $10.6 million
3. The Predator
Predicted Gross: $10 million
4. The Nun
Predicted Gross: $8.4 million
5. Crazy Rich Asians
Predicted Gross: $5.9 million
Box Office Results (September 14-16)
The Predator opening in first place was never really in doubt, but its $24.6 million debut didn’t impress much. It came in a bit under my $27.4 million estimate. Mostly negative reviews didn’t help and I look for this to experience a decline of over 50% this coming weekend.
After posting a franchise best haul for the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, The Nun saw the largest second weekend drop (66%) to $18.2 million (I was a little higher at $19.8 million). The two-week tally stands at $85 million.
Returns were decent for A Simple Favor as it opened in third with $16 million (a bit under my $17.9 million prediction). I see it experiencing the best hold for next weekend and having a real chance at rising to second place (considering the potential dips for The Predator and The Nun).
White Boy Rick premiered in fourth place with an unremarkable $8.8 million, on pace with my $8.7 million estimate. The crime drama also suffered from mixed reviews and it couldn’t manage to get older moviegoers interested.
Crazy Rich Asians rounded out the top five with $8.6 million (I said $8.2 million) to bring its total to $149 million.
Finally, faith-based sequel Unbroken: Path to Redemption gained no traction with audiences earning just $2.2 million for 10th place (I said $2.5 million).