Box Office Shocker: Low-Budget 'The Conjuring' Strides Past 'The Lone Ranger'

3:28 PM PST 07/30/2013 by Pamela McClintock
Warner Bros. Pictures
"The Conjuring"

The $20 million horror pic is also scaring up more business in North America than Legendary Pictures' "Pacific Rim," underscoring Hollywood's summer of discontent for big-budget offerings.

Director James Wan's The Conjuring reached $86.8 million domestic ticket sales on Monday, surpassing high-priced tentpoles The Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim.

The movie's surprisingly strong showing is one of the biggest success stories of the summer -- a victory for Toby Emmerich's New Line and parent company Warner Bros. Its stellar performance upends the traditional notion that tentpoles are the primary profit generators in the summer months.

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This season has seen a number of big-budget duds, including Disney's The Lone Ranger, which cost $250 million to make and has grossed $85.5 million domestically and $164.1 million worldwide to date. The Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer western, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, will result in a substantial write-down for Disney.

Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim, from Legendary Pictures and WB, is also a disappointment, although it has taken in more than The Lone Ranger, earning $85.2 million to date in North America and $225.2 million worldwide.

The Conjuring, the top-grossing horror pic of 2013 so far, has also done far more business domestically than White House Down ($70.8 million) and After Earth ($60 million).

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Based on a real story, the film stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators who help a family who has been haunted by a dark force. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor also star.

It's one of the few horror titles to receive an A- CinemaScore; generally speaking, horror scores lower.

The Conjuring, still early in its foreign run, has grossed $12 million to date overseas for a worldwide total of $98.9 million. It should cross the $100 million mark sometime on Tuesday.

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