Weekend Report: 'Conjuring' Haunts First With Record Opening
Four new movies opened nationwide this weekend, and the cheapest of the bunch came out on top.

Supernatural horror movie The Conjuring, whose budget was less than one-quarter of any of the other movies, took first place with an excellent $41.9 million. Meanwhile, Turbo and Red 2 underwhelmed, while R.I.P.D. was the latest costly misfire this Summer.

Overall, the Top 12 earned an estimated $181.1 million this weekend. That's off 19 percent from the same period last year, when The Dark Knight Rises single-handedly accounted for over $160 million.

The Conjuring's $41.9 million debut is a new record for an original R-rated horror movie ahead of last month's The Purge ($34.1 million). It's also the second-highest start ever for a supernatural horror movie ahead of Paranormal Activity 2 ($40.7 million). For distributor Warner Bros., it's also higher than Pacific Rim's opening last weekend, which is particularly noteworthy given Pacific Rim's price tag was nearly ten times as high as that of The Conjuring.

On paper, The Conjuring seemed like a slam dunk: supernatural horror is always popular, and the "based on a true story" angle is advantageous as well. And, with The Purge almost completely gone from theaters, there wasn't any competition. What pushed it to the next level, though, was the actual marketing for The Conjuring, which was legitimately terrifying. Warner Bros. made clear that they had a true scary movie on their hands, and crowds turned out in droves. That audience wound up being 53 percent women and 59 percent over the age of 25.

While most horror movies burn out immediately after opening weekend, there's reason to believe The Conjuring could buck this trend. Aside from the strong reviews (85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), it received a fantastic "A-" CinemaScore from audiences, which is nearly unprecedented for the genre. Without any direct competition coming up, there's a chance that the strong word-of-mouth pushes The Conjuring close to $100 million by the end of its run.

In second place, Despicable Me 2 dipped 43 percent to $24.9 million. That was good enough to beat animation newcomer Turbo, which reinforces just how popular the Despicable brand is among family audiences. To date, Despicable Me 2 has earned $276 million, which makes it the eighth-highest-grossing animated movie ever, and the top one since Toy Story 3 in 2010.

DreamWorks Animation's Turbo failed to shift out of first gear this weekend: the snail racing movie took in $21.3 million, which is the lowest start for a DreamWorks movie since 2006's Flushed Away. Including its Wednesday and Thursday grosses, Turbo has earned $31 million, which is a slightly slower start than recent DreamWorks Animation disappointment Rise of the Guardians ($32.3 million in its first five days).

Turbo's poor start can be attributed mostly to very unfavorable scheduling. It opened within a month of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, two heavyweight animated sequels that are on pace to combine for around $600 million. That was a risky move, and the marketing never clicked enough to help it get out of the shadow of those bigger entries. Family audiences only have so much cash to spend, and Turbo seems to have come out on the losing end of this calculation.

Turbo's audience had an even gender split, and also skewed younger (55 percent under the age of 25). The movie received a very good "A" CinemaScore, and should play well over the next few weeks. Still, it faces direct competition from The Smurfs 2 in less than two weeks, and could ultimately have a tough time getting past $100 million.

In its second weekend, Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2 fell 52 percent to $19.9 million. That's actually a slightly softer decline than the first Grown Ups had at this point, and Grown Ups 2 continues to slightly outpace the original as well. To date, it's earned $79.4 million, and will be past $100 million by this time next weekend.

Playing at 3,016 locations, Red 2 debuted in fifth place this weekend with $18.05 million. That's a bit lower than the first movie, which opened to $21.8 million in October 2010. The slight decline lines up with the performance of The Expendables 2, another geriatric action sequel. In both cases, it seems like there wasn't quite enough to differentiate the movie from its well-liked predecessor, which tends to prevent a sequel from matching the original in attendance. As expected, the audience skewed older (67 percent over 35) and male (52 percent).

The first Red wound up being a word-of-mouth hit that played well through the Fall; with a Summer release and less audience enthusiasm (decent "B+" CinemaScore), it's very unlikely that Red 2 holds up as well.

After Pacific Rim slightly disappointed last weekend, there was hope that it would make up some ground in its second weekend. That didn't wind up being the case: the Guillermo Del Toro monsters vs. robots movie plummeted 57 percent to just over $16 million. The drop and the gross lines up nicely with Cowboys & Aliens, which also translated a years-worth of hype in to slightly underwhelming grosses.

Fortunately for Pacific Rim, its overseas results will be much, much better than Cowboys & Aliens. Through 10 days, Pacific Rim has earned $68.3 million at the domestic box office, and could still wind up earning just over $100 million by the end of its run.

All the way down in seventh place, R.I.P.D. bombed with $12.7 million at 2,852 locations. That opening is identical to last Summer's sci-fi action comedy The Watch, which debuted to $12.8 million (and was one of the biggest disappointments of Summer 2012). It's also easily the lowest debut so far this year for a movie that cost over $100 million. The movie's audience was 53 percent male and 57 percent over the age of 25, and they awarded it a weak "C+" CinemaScore (which lines up nicely with its 11 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

Based on the awful reviews and the poor word-of-mouth, R.I.P.D. will likely disappear quickly from theaters. Don't fret for distributor Universal Pictures, though: Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 will combine for around $1.5 billion worldwide, which surely goes a long way to offset R.I.P.D.'s failure.

Speaking of Universal: as of this weekend, the studio has earned over $1 billion at the domestic box office. That's a new record for them ahead of last year, when they reached the mark in the first week of August.

In limited release, The Way, Way Back earned a very good $2.2 million from 304 locations. To date, the Sundance hit has earned $4.6 million, and will expand in to at least 650 locations next weekend.

In its second weekend, Fruitvale Station grossed $739,484 from just 34 locations, which translates to an excellent $21,750 per-theater average. With strong reviews and great word-of-mouth, Fruitvale should be able to expand nationwide over the next month or so.

Opening at 353 locations, Girl Most Likely took in a weak $736,000. That's disappointing considering star Kristen Wiig's previous success, and considering distributor Roadside Attractions has consistently been able to get these moderate releases to over $1 million in their opening. It's likely that the movie's awful reviews had something to do with this: it's currently sitting at 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is only slightly better than R.I.P.D. (and is also more important for limited releases like this).

Finally, Only God Forgives—which reteams Ryan Gosling with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn—took in $313,958 from 78 theaters. That's not a very good start, though it's off-set to some extent by its day-and-date VOD release.

Around-the-World Roundup

Despicable Me 2 held on to first place at the overseas box office with $35.4 million this weekend. It's now earned $308.4 million, which is ahead of the original movie's $293 million final total. Despicable Me 2 is quickly approaching $600 million worldwide, and will blow past $700 million before the end of its run.

Pacific Rim was a close second this weekend with $34.8 million from 48 territories. It opened in first place in France with $3.8 million, and debuted to $2 million in Germany. To date, it's earned $110.3 million, and still has openings in China, Spain, Brazil and Japan on the way.

Coinciding with its domestic debut, DreamWorks Animation's Turbo took in $22.6 million from 28 markets (representing around 25 percent of the international marketplace). That's a very good start for an original movie about car racing—Cars, for example, topped out at $217.9 million, which is a figure that Turbo should be able to match. The movie had a great $8.4 million start in Russia, and was also solid in Mexico ($3.4 million) and Brazil ($1.85 million).

Monsters University added $20.7 million this weekend for a new total of $283.9 million. It's now the seventh-straight Pixar movie to pass $500 million worldwide, which is a remarkable accomplishment for the animation studio. Monsters still has Italy and China on the way, and should ultimately wind up above $600 million.

World War Z earned $12 million from 61 markets this weekend. To date, the Brad Pitt zombie flick has taken in $269.5 million overseas, and still has released in Spain and Japan coming up. On a worldwide basis, World War Z is at $456.4 million, which is remarkably higher than fellow Paramount release Star Trek Into Darkness ($448.6 million).

Red 2 opened to $7.6 million this weekend, most of which came from South Korea ($5.2 million). Meanwhile, R.I.P.D. debuted to $6.8 million, almost all of which was from a strong debut in Russia ($6.4 million).

Finally, Edgar Wright's The World's End opened to $3.3 million in the U.K. this weekend. The movie expands in to other foreign markets throughout the next few weeks before reaching the U.S. on August 23rd.

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'Conjuring' Should Scare Off 'Turbo,' 'Red 2,' 'R.I.P.D.'

This Weekend in Past Years:

• 2011 - 'Harry' Makes History

• 2010 -
'Inception' Incites Intense Interest

• 2009 - 'Harry Potter' Has Hot-Blooded Premiere

• 2008 - 'Dark Knight' Begins Smashingly

• 2007 - 'Chuck & Larry' Can't Stop 'Hairspray' Sheen

• 2006 - 'Pirates' Pilfer More Records

• 2005 - 'Charlie,' 'Crashers' Draw Golden Box Office Ticket

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