The verdict is in.
In its second weekend, supernatural horror pic The Nun II narrowly prevailed over Kenneth Branagh’s new entry A Haunting in Venice, the third installment in his Agatha Christie-inspired movie series.
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The Nun sequel took in $14.5 million, compared to $14.3 million for A Haunting in Venice, according to Monday actuals.
The race was too close to call on Sunday, when estimates from New Line/Warner Bros. showed the Nun sequel grossing $14.7 million for the weekend, while 20th Century Studios/Disney had Haunting in Venice earning $14.5 million. When Sunday projections are this close — only $200,000 separate the two films — the industry generally considers it a tie until final numbers are tallied.
A Haunting in Venice had hoped to top the chart in its debut. While the threequel opened in line with expectations, it’s still a muted start for the film, which will need strong legs to come out ahead. Similar to other recent movies with a buzzy cast, the threequel had to make its final publicity push without the help of its stars because of the ongoing actors strike.
In addition to directing, Branagh reprises his role as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot opposite Camille Cottin, Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Kyle Allen and Riccardo Scamarcio.
This time out, Disney’s marketing team made the decision to highlight the movie’s horror elements as part of the campaign, versus only the murder mystery themes, in hopes of expanding the audience. The strategy worked, with younger adults — who are the most avid moviegoers — making up the majority of the audience. Conversely, older moviegoers, the franchise’s traditional target demo, didn’t show up in the hoped-for numbers.
Overseas — from where the franchise draws much of its strength — Haunting in Venice opened to an estimated $22.7 million in its first 51 markets for a global start of north of $37 million.
The threequel didn’t open far ahead of the last film in the series, Death on the Nile, which started off with $12.8 million domestically in February 2022, when the box office was still in recovery mode. The sequel was among the many films delayed because of COVID-19; it also had to contend with negative publicity surrounding star Armie Hammer (he doesn’t appear in the new film). That film’s ensemble cast also included Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright. Death on the Nile topped out at a subdued $137.3 million globally.
20th Century, a division of Disney’s movie empire, capped the threequel’s budget at $60 million compared to at least $90 million for the last one.
In 2017, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express turned into a sleeper hit after opening to $28.6 million domestically on its way to earning more than $350 million worldwide. (The first film’s ensemble cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp.) All three movies received a B CinemaScore, although A Haunting has notably better reviews.
The Nun II enjoyed a strong hold in its sophomore outing in falling 55 percent, a good showing for a horror pic. The movie has amassed $56.3 million in its first 10 days domestically.
Overseas, it earned another $30.1 million from 72 markets over the weekend to jump the $100 million mark internationally for a global total of $158.8 million. In like-for-like foreign markets, the movie is pacing ahead of all other titles in the The Conjuring universe behind The Nun. It is sure to be a profit generator for New Line, having cost $22 million to produce before marketing.
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