Box Office: Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ Scares Up $44M Opening

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Acclaimed filmmaker Jordan Peele’s newest film, Nope, easily topped the domestic box office in its opening with an estimated $44 million from 3,785 theaters, according to Universal’s weekend estimates.

While that is certainly a solid start, the sci-fi horror adventure pic came in well behind the huge $71 million bow of Peele’s Us in spring 2019. Either way, Nope still scored the biggest launch for an original studio screenplay since Us after besting the $41 million debut Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which was released in late July 2019.

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Nope had been tracking for a domestic debut in the $50 million range heading into the weekend. It pulled in an estimated $19.3 million on Friday alone, including a strong $6.4 million in Thursday previews, and continues the rebound at the 2022 box office.

In 2017, Peele and Universal redefined the horror genre with Get Out, followed by Us two years later. This time out, the innovative filmmaker interjects sci-fi into the mix, as well as continuing to explore themes of race and culture. Sci-fi, however, can be a difficult genre.

Nope reunites Peele with Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya, who stars alongside Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun as the residents of a remote town outside of Los Angeles who attempt to document a mysterious event involving an unidentified flying object. There’s also a showbiz angle: Palmer and Kaluuya play siblings who run a Hollywood horse ranch they inherited from their father (black Westerns are referenced throughout the film).

Along with directing, Peele wrote and co-produced the Universal movie via his Monkeypaw Productions. He used Imax cameras to shoot parts of Nope, which is getting a major push from the large-format exhibitor (nine of the top 10 runs on Friday were Imax locations). And for the weekend, Imax and other large-format premium locations accounted for at least 34 percent of the overall gross. Younger adults made up the adult of the audience, with almost 70 percent of all ticket buyers between the ages of 18 and 34 (the overall gender split was 55 males and 45 female).

Like his previous films, Nope is benefiting from an ethnically diverse audience, with Black audiences in particular over-indexing. An estimated 35 percent of ticket buyers on opening weekend were White, followed by Black (33 percent), Latino (20 percent) and Asian (8 percent), according to Universal.

Get Out, Peele’s directorial debut, launched to $33 million in 2017 on its way to becoming a water-cooler sensation and grossing north of $255 million globally against a miniscule $4.5 million budget.

Us ultimately made $255 million-plus at the worldwide box office, scoring another win for the studio and the filmmaker. The trio of movies directed by Peele have all opened at No. 1 domestically, and are all rated R.

In terms of reception, Nope has a lower critics’ score than Us and Get Out, which sits at a stellar 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Nope currently rests at 82 percent, while Us boasts a score of 93 percent.

Nope earned a B CinemaScore from audiences, the same grade as Us. Get Out earned an A-.

Not surprisingly, Peele’s films are getting more expensive to make as he widens his scope, although they are still modestly budgeted for a Hollywood studio event film. Us cost just under $20 million to produce; Nope cost $68 million.

Marvel and Disney’s superhero pic Thor: Love and Thunder held at No. 3 domestically with $22.1 million from 4,370 theaters as it all but crossed the $600 million mark globally in its third weekend.

Internationally, Thor pulled in another $31.8 million to stay at No. 1 in a myriad of markets. Through Sunday, the tentpole has grossed $276.2 million at the domestic box office and $322 million overseas.

Universal and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru continued to provide a boost for the family market in its fourth outing. The pic came in third domestically with $17.7 million from 3,806 locations for a domestic cume of $297.9 million and more than $640 million globally.

Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing fell to No. 4 in its sophomore outing with $10.3 million from 3,650 theaters for a solid 10-day domestic total of $38.3 million.

Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, rounding out the top five, remained unstoppable. The Tom Cruise movie finished Sunday with a domestic tally of $635.6 million and $1.28 billion worldwide.

Also from Paramount, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank tumbled to No. 7 in its second weekend with $3.9 million from 3,481 cinemas for a domestic total of $13.8 million.

Focus Features’ specialty offering Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris came in No. 10 in its second weekend with $847,000 from 1,001 locations for a domestic total of $2.9 million.

This story was first published July 22, 2022 at 7:38 a.m.

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