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Continuing Warner Bros.’ winning streak and kicking off the fall box office in high style, the supernatural horror pic The Nun opened to a heavenly $53.8 million from 3,876 theaters to score the second-biggest September debut of all time in North America, not adjusted for inflation.
The R-rated spinoff also boasted the biggest opening of any title in the Conjuring franchise. The fifth installment, from New Line, Atomic Monster and the Safran Company, also delivered big numbers overseas, earning a divine $79.3 million from 60 markets for a global start of $133.2 million.
In North America, last year’s It ($123.4 million) remains the record-holdover for top September launch.
Directed by Corin Hardy, The Nun, set in 1952, tells the story of a novice nun (Taissa Farmiga) and a Catholic priest (Demian Bichir) who are dispatched to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at a monastery in Romania. The film drew lukewarm reviews, and an even worse C CinemaScore, but it didn’t seem to matter.
“We knew going into the weekend that The Nun was looking very good, but we couldn’t have predicted this level of success,” says Jeff Goldstein, distribution chief for Warners.
The Nun is a spinoff of The Conjuring 2, which starred Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (the older sister of Taissa) as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 2013, The Conjuring debuted to $41.9 million domestically, followed by $40.4 million for the 2016 sequel. Conjuring spinoff Annabelle debuted to $37.1 million in 2014, while Annabelle: Creation launched to $35.1 million in fall 2017.
The Nun easily won the weekend ahead of fellow Warners film Crazy Rich Asians, which has topped the domestic chart for three consecutive weekends.
Crazy Rich Asians was hardly a slouch in its fourth outing, earning $13.2 million and finishing the weekend with a domestic total of $135.8 million through Sunday. Internationally, Jon M. Chu’s rom-com grossed $5.6 million from 23 markets for a foreign tally of $28.6 million and $164.4 million globally.
On Sunday, estimates showed Crazy Rich Asians beating STXfilms’ Peppermint, a new R-rated action-thriller starring Jennifer Garner and directed by Pierre Morel (Taken), but the order was reversed when final number came in Monday, with Peppermint resting at No. 2 with $13.4 million from 2,980 theaters.
STX insiders say it has no exposure on the film, which was produced by Lakeshore and cost in the mid-$20 million range to produce after incentives.
Peppermint‘s Rotten Tomatoes score is a lowly 16 percent. Audiences like Peppermint better, giving it a B+ CinemaScore.
The story centers on a once-happy suburban wife and mother (Garner) whose life is upended when her husband and daughter are murdered by a powerful local drug cartel. A decade later, she seeks revenge against any and all involved in the crime, including the lawyers, cops and dirty judges who helped the killers go free. John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Jeff Hephner and Pell James co-star.
Screen Gems’ Searching, a missing-child thriller about a Korean-American family living in the Bay Area, held well in its second weekend, rounding out the top five with $4.5 million — a decline of just 26 percent — for a 10-day domestic tally of $14.3 million. The pic also impressed overseas, where it has grossed $7.5 million for an early foreign total of $17.7 million, including $12.9 million from South Korea.
Paramount and Skydance’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout placed No. 6 domestically as it cleared the $700 million mark globally and became the top-grossing title in the Tom Cruise action-pic franchise, besting the $694.7 million grossed by Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol in 2011, not adjusted for inflation. Fallout finished Sunday with $726.6 million, including an impressive 10-day tally of $37.7 million in China.
Elsewhere in North America, Freestyle’s new faith-based movie God Bless the Broken Road faltered with $1.4 million from 1,235 cinemas to place outside the top 10.
From God’s Not Dead director Harold Cronk, the film is loosely based on the Rascal Flatts song “Bless the Broken Road” and follows a widowed mother (Lindsay Pulsipher) whose faith is tested after her husband is killed in Afghanistan. Two years later, she meets a NASCAR driver (Andrew W. Walker) relegated to community service after a reckless crash.
Sept. 9, 9:30 a.m. Updated with foreign numbers.
Sept. 10, 4 p.m. Updated with final weekend numbers for The Nun, Peppermint and Crazy Rich Asians.
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