As the rest of Hollywood ponders what makes a profitable movie, the brain trust behind The Conjuring franchise seems to have it all figured out.
Case in point: The Nun, the fifth installment in what Warner Bros. calls its Conjuring Universe. Made for a relatively paltry $22 million, The Nun scared up $53.5 million in North America this weekend (estimated, of course) and made a truly terrifying $77.5 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $131 million. Those are franchise-best figures, according to Box Office Mojo. The supernatural horror movie’s domestic take also gives The Nun the second-biggest September debut in history, as well as the second-largest R-rated horror-film opening ever (trailing only last year’s IT).
It just goes to show that scares sell. And the fact that horror movies don’t cost much to produce makes them even more attractive to studios. Consider The Conjuring Universe as a whole: Excluding The Nun, the first four flicks in the franchise cost a total of about $81.5 million to make. The lowest earner among them—Annabelle—collected $257 million worldwide. All told, those four movies have grossed (and I do mean grossed) more than $1.2 billion theatrically, and the early success of The Nun suggests we’ll see more Conjuring flicks in the future. Warner Bros. might make it a … habit.
Three-time box-office champ Crazy Rich Asians slid to second place, banking another $13.6 million. That brought its crazy-rich total to $136.2 million. Another newcomer, Jennifer Garner’s action flick Peppermint, debuted in third place with $13.3 million.
The Meg continues to gobble up box-office chum, swallowing another $6 million to bring its grand total to nearly $131.6 million. Nothing fishy about those numbers.
Searching, meanwhile, found pay dirt yet again. Adding another 800 theaters, the thriller collected another $4.5 million to close out the top five.
Finally this week, God Bless the Broken Road, the latest Christian movie to land in theaters, collected $1.6 million in its debut to finish a disappointing 11th.