August 11, 2017
Comic book superheroes, sci-fi adventures and...an elderly couple’s personal collection of ghost stories?
When it comes to film franchises that third one seems out of place, but don’t tell that to the horror aficionados who’ve turned the tales of Ed and Lorraine Warren into their own kind of modestly-budgeted cinematic universe.
Back in the summer of 2013 Warner Brothers’ $20 million horror flick “The Conjuring” shocked Hollywood with a $41 million opening weekend. The 1970’s period piece eventually legged it out to $137 million domestically and $318 million worldwide.
Given that success, WB fast-tracked a spin-off “Annabelle” which hit theaters the next year. Carrying just a $6.5 million budget, the film scored $37 million in its first weekend. It ended up with a $84M/$256M domestic/worldwide split. In 2016, the inevitable sequel “The Conjuring 2” made back its $40 million production cost in the first three days. This installment finished with $102M domestic and $320M worldwide.
This weekend’s biggest release, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a prequel that appears to tick off all the boxes for fans of the horror genre. Made for just $15 million, the movie is also sitting at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes whereas the first “Annabelle” received a rancid 29%.
Tracking has the picture opening in the $30 million range.
Such a result would be a major victory for James Wan, the man who first got the ball rolling back in 2013 and continues to oversee all subsequent projects. Wan’s big break was the “Saw” films, making him responsible for perhaps the two most popular horror franchises of the 21st century (he also fit in the mega-blockbuster “Furious 7” too.)
In fact, Warner Bros. has so much faith in Wan that they gave him their coveted “Aquaman” solo film. If that 2018 release performs well enough the director/producer could become a made man over at WB, a studio that gives carte blanche to filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Clint Eastwood, who’ve proven their worth.
Prediction: $33 Million
That animated adventure remains the highest-grossing movie for the production company, co-owned by the nation’s two largest theatre chains (AMC and Regal), out-earning the likes of Liam Neeson vehicle “The Grey” and even Best Picture Oscar Winner “Spotlight.” As a result, a cartoon revolving around stealing nuts that featured a cameo from the Gangnam Style guy is now getting a sequel.
“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” has yet to be seen by critics although it’s on pace for a $15 million total this weekend. Even though the poorly-received “Emoji Movie” is the only competition for kids, I feel like parents would rather pass on the cinema this time.
Prediction: $10 Million