Box Office: ‘Nope’ Makes Contact With Projected $44.5 Million Opening

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Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is successfully sending a message to moviegoers: get out… and go to a theater.

The Universal release is expected to net a $44.5 million opening this weekend from 3,785 theaters, marking Peele’s third consecutive film to debut at the top of the domestic box office.

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The first indication that “Nope” might just be a summer box office hit came from its Thursday previews, which brought in a strong $6.4 million. Early projections saw the sci-fi horror film making $45 million to $60 million by the end of its opening weekend. The film is coming in a hair under those estimates.

“Nope” is projecting a debut a notch above Peele’s first film, 2017’s “Get Out,” which opened to $33.7 million, but a good deal lower than Peele’s sophomore effort, 2019’s “Us,” which opened to $71.1 million. Both films wound up totaling about $255 million worldwide. To match that milestone, “Nope” will have to rely on solid word-of-mouth in the weeks ahead.

“Nope” carries a production budget of $68 million, a good deal higher than the $4.5 million and $20 million figures that “Get Out” and “Us” respectively possessed.

Even with the larger financial burden, “Nope” looks to make a decent profit. How the film’s word-of-mouth stands will be better inferred after its second weekend performance, though it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Research firm Cinema Score assigned a “B” grade to “Nope,” indicating a not entirely enthusiastic reaction from general moviegoers. Even so, a more middling Cinema Score grade isn’t uncommon for the horror genre.

Beyond that “Nope” remains a rather buzzy title, buoyed by strong support from critics. Peele’s film currently holds an 84% approval rating from top critics on the aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman was so-so on the film, writing that “Nope” “is a tantalizingly creepy mixed bag of a sci-fi thriller” in which “anticipation works better than the payoff.”

From Oscar-winning writer-director Peele, “Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in a story of horse-wrangler siblings who make an unsettling, out-of-this-world discovery.

Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” is falling to second on domestic charts. The superhero entry earned $6.12 million on Friday, marking a 56% drop from last week.

As is typical for Marvel Studios, “Love and Thunder” has been a box office force, grossing $260 million in North America so far. The film currently stands as the sixth-highest grossing domestic release of the year, still trending above the series’ previous entry, “Thor: Ragnarok,” which had earned $235 million by the same point in its theatrical run.

Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” looks to take third, projecting a slim 37% drop in its fourth weekend of release. The animated prequel is expected to net $16.8 million this weekend and should push its domestic haul beyond $300 million in the coming week.

“The Rise of Gru” stands as the fifth-highest grossing domestic release of the year. The film’s 2015 predecessor, “Minions,” ended its North American run with $336 million in the bank.

Sony’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” is shooting for fourth or fifth place, projecting a $9.75 million haul in its second weekend. That would mark a modest 43% fall from the adaptation’s opening last weekend, demonstrating that word-of-mouth around the Daisy Edgar-Jones starrer is in a solid place.

Rounding out the top five of domestic charts, Paramount and Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” refuses to back down. In its ninth weekend of release, the Tom Cruise sequel is projected to drop a slim 23%, adding $9.45 million to its domestic haul.

“Maverick” surpassed “The Avengers” earlier this week to become the ninth-highest grossing domestic release of all time. With $628 million in the bank, the Paramount release would have a ways to go to reach the eighth place slot, held by “Jurassic World” at $652 million. Then again, “Maverick” has done nothing but exceed expectations so far.

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