When Corin Hardy's The Nun was released in 2018, it was a shocking win for The Conjuring Universe. The horror franchise had previously released multiple successful films up to that point, but the opening weekend numbers for the prequel were stunning. In fact, the ticket sales were so impressive that no film in the canon has come close to replicating the performance since then... but at the very least it can be said that Michael Chaves' The Nun II has now come closest.
The weekend box office has a new number one title with the horror movie kicking off spooky season 2023, so check out the full Top 10 below, and join me after for analysis.
The Nun II Is The Biggest Win For The Conjuring Universe Since The Nun In 2018
The Nun made $53.8 million in its first three days when it was released almost exactly five years ago, and while there was no expectation that the sequel would equal or best that total, the new release has still done quite well in its opening weekend. The budget for the production hasn't been reported, but no film in The Conjuring Universe has cost more than $40 million (per The Numbers), and if that's the case for The Nun II, then it is already well on its way to big profits after a $32.6 million start domestically.
As alluded to, this is the best opening weekend for a film in the horror franchise since The Nun. Director Michael Chaves two previous contributions to the continuity, 2019's The Curse Of La Llorona and 2021's The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, made $26.3 million and $24.1 million respectively when they premiered, and Gary Dauberman's Annabelle Comes Home made $20.3 million when it was released in summer 2019. It's a solid uptick.
Where things get even rosier is looking at the film's outlook globally. While The Nun was a big hit in the United States and Canada, it was an even bigger winner in foreign markets ($117.5 million vs. $245.9 million), and it's looking like The Nun II is going to perform similarly. To go with the $32.6 million its made domestically, the film has already made $52.7 million abroad, bringing its worldwide total to $85.3 million.
The Nun II is the ninth film to be released as part of The Conjuring Universe, which first launched a full decade ago in July 2013, and its overall success at the box office can be called historic for the horror genre. Albeit without adjusting for inflation, there is an argument to be made that it is the biggest straight horror franchise ever – with the films having collectively earned $2.2 billion globally (for comparison, the 10 Saw movies have made $1 billion with 10 movies dating back to 2004). That legacy is only going to grow following yet another opening weekend win.
The numbers for The Nun II's second weekend probably aren't going to be pretty (this prognostication in part influenced by the 66 percent weekend-to-weekend drop that The Nun saw following its shocking debut), but it has already done enough to be considered another win for the horror genre in 2023 and its well on its way to joining all of the other titles in The Conjuring Universe with global box office numbers above $100 million.
The Equalizer 3 Suffers A Rough Drop After Its Strong Debut
Staying on the subject of significant weekend-to-weekend drops, that brings us to discussion of Antoine Fuqua's The Equalizer 3. As I reported in last Sunday's box office column, the new Denzel Washington action movie performed well in its debut, putting up numbers in line with its series predecessors... but now it has hit a bit of a snag. The film was able to take second place despite a couple new wide releases arriving in cinemas across the country, but it would seem that either there's a dip in interest that didn't similarly effect The Equalizer or The Equalizer 2, or the R-rated The Nun II stole some of the feature's audience.
The Equalizer 3 added $12.1 million to its domestic total this weekend, which marks a 65 percent drop from its premiere. The first Equalizer back in 2014 experienced only a 45 percent difference, and The Equalizer 2 fell off 61 percent. It's not a great sign from a big picture perspective – but then again, it has been all but definitively stated that the new sequel closes out what will be reflected upon as a complete trilogy.
While perhaps not on track to do quite as well as its predecessors, The Equalizer 3 is shaping up to be a sizable hit for fall 2023. It's not exactly rocketing up either the domestic or worldwide charts, but the film has now joined the nine-figure club, having thus far earned $107.6 million globally. The fact that it cost $70 million to make (per Variety) means that we're not quite ready yet to declare it a hit, but it's doing fine.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 Follows The Box Office Trend For Comedies In 2023
Mostly helping The Equalizer 3's image is Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 – which played in over 3,600 theaters this weekend but only nabbed third place and has only made a reported $10 million (ranking 62nd when it comes to wide release debuts in 2023). It's not really all that surprising, both because this is a franchise that has never really demonstrated much in the way of legs, and because comedies not titled "Barbie" continue to have a tough time at the post-pandemic box office.
Joel Zwick's My Big Fat Greek Wedding had its run on the big screen in 2002, it was a sensation that made $374.8 million worldwide... but all of the attempts to further cash in on the hit haven't gone well. In 2003, there was the television series My Big Fat Greek Life, which ran for a grand total of seven episodes on CBS, and 2016 saw the big screen release of Kirk Jones' My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – which only made $17.9 million in its first three days and went on to make just $92.1 million by the end of its worldwide theatrical run. Now, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is off to an even slower start.
To be fair, the numbers here are not shocking. Movies that put funny first are not doing particularly well right now, so it's unsurprising that the numbers for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 fall in line with Gene Stupnitsky's No Hard Feelings ($15 million), Kyle Marvin's 80 For Brady ($12.7 million), and Josh Greenbaum's Strays ($8.2 million). It used to be that an audience communally laughing at a comedy was one of the cinematic experience's greatest highlights, but outside of Greta Gerwig's massive hit from this past summer, we're not seeing a whole lot of appreciation for it right now.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Kenneth Branagh's A Haunting In Venice will be looking to cash in on the horror genre's current heat and it will be interesting to see what kind of effect it has on The Nun II. Be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend next Sunday for our rundown of the box office numbers, and get a look ahead at all of the films set to be released in the months ahead with our 2023 Movie Release Calendar.