Los Angeles — The horror movie The Nun has topped the domestic box office in its first weekend, scoring a best for the Conjuring franchise and another win for Warner Bros.
Studio estimates on Sunday say the Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga-led film brought in $53.5m from 3 876 North American theatres. Internationally, it banked $77.5m for a massive $131m global debut. The movie, a spinoff of a character seen in The Conjuring 2 and set in 1952 Romania, cost only $22m to produce.
Before The Nun, the largest opening in the Conjuring universe, which includes the Annabelle films, was The Conjuring's $41.8m launch.
"The subject in the title The Nun, just gets a bigger broader audience," said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.' president of domestic distribution.
Opening weekend audiences were heavily Hispanic (35 percent), according to exit polls, and significantly higher than other films in the series. The Conjuring, for instance, attracted a 17 percent Hispanic audience.
This marks the fifth consecutive weekend that a Warner Bros. movie has held first place domestically, following in the successful footsteps of Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg. It's also the fourth that the studio has held the first and second place spots which is the first time this has happened in the industry in over 25 years. The last time was in 1989 when Universal Pictures had Sea of Love, Uncle Buck and Parenthood.
"The calendar has 12 months and 52 weeks," Goldstein said of the industry-leading streak. "We had gotten a fair amount of criticism for what our release schedule looked like in the summer, but I kept on saying it's not about summer, it's about the whole year."
The Nun effectively scared Crazy Rich Asians into second place for the first time in its four-week run. The rom-com added $13.6m, bringing its total North American earning to $136.2m.
Third place went to the R-rated Jennifer Garner revenge movie Peppermint, from STXFilms, which debuted on par with expectations to $13.3 million.
"Peppermint was a movie that was meant to give a completely different option to The Nun," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore. "The Nun was just this overwhelming juggernaut."
And holdovers rounded out the top five with The Meg in fourth with $6m and Searching in fifth with $4.5m.
Despite The Nun's strong performance, the weekend is down nearly 30 percent from last year when It scored a record-breaking opening, but the year overall is still up 9.5 percent.
"Look out," Dergarabedian said. "This could be the biggest box office year ever."