Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slowest Easter Weekend in Years

The Curse of La Llorona-Publicity Still 8-H 2019
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Hollywood studios are holding back releasing their big titles because of 'Avengers: Endgame,' which begins its assault next Friday.

From the same team behind the Conjuring franchise, The Curse of La Llorona is opening ahead of expectations at the box office, scaring up $11.8 million from 3,372 theaters on Friday for a projected debut of $24 million to $26 million.

The bad news: The R-rated horror pic can't rescue the box office from its slowest Easter weekend in more than a decade as Hollywood studios hold back releasing their bigger event pics because of Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, which hits theaters next Friday. No one wants only a week of play before the juggernaut unfurls.

Made by New Line for a modest $9 million and produced by James Wan, Curse of La Llorona is based on a spooky Latin-American supernatural tale about a vengeful ghost who tries to steal kids. Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz and Patricia Velasquez star in the pic, which was helmed by Michael Chaves in his feature directorial debut.

New Line says La Llorona isn't an official installment in the Conjuring universe, despite the film's 1970s setting and the appearance of the character Father Perez (Tony Amendola), who also showed up in Annabelle.

Hispanics made up nearly 50 percent of Friday ticket buyers, while audiences gave the pic a B- CinemaScore.

It's a good weekend for New Line and parent company Warner Bros., which can also claim the No. 2 spot with holdover Shazam!, which grossed $6.2 million on Friday from 4,183 locations for a projected $16 million-$17 million weekend. The kid-friendly supehero pic will finish its third frame with nearly $120 million domestically and north of $300 million globally.

The faith-based film Breakthrough, the first Fox title released by new owner Disney, came in third on Friday with $3.8 million from 2,764 locations for a three-day tally of $7.3 million after opening on Wednesday. The Fox 2000 pic is pacing to earn $11 million for the weekend proper, putting its five-day debut at $14 million to $15 million against a $14 million production budget.

Based on the book of the same name, Breakthrough recounts the inspirational true story of a mother's faith and love when her 14-year-old son falls through the ice into the freezing waters of a Missouri lake. As he lies lifeless in the hospital, her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for her child's recovery, even in the face of case history and scientific predictions.

Roxann Dawson directed the movie, with NBA star Stephen Curry executive producing alongside producer Devon Franklin (Miracles From Heaven). The cast includes Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, Topher Grace and Dennis Haysbert.

Disney is also opening the nature documentary Penguins in celebration of Earth Day 2019 (April 22). The Ed Helms-narrated film waddled to $901,000 from 1,815 theaters on Friday for a five-day launch of roughly $3.5 million.

Penguins opened Wednesday alongside Breakthrough. Both nabbed an A CinemaScore.