'Annabelle' scares up $35M, jolting sleepy box office

This image released by Open Road Films shows a scene from "The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature." (Open Road Films via AP)
This image released by Warner Bros Pictures shows Lulu Wilson in "Annabelle: Creation." (Warner Brothers Pictures via AP)

NEW YORK — The "Conjuring" spinoff "Annabelle: Creation" scared up an estimated $35 million in North American theaters over the weekend, making it easily the top film and giving the lagging August box office a shot in the arm.

The opening came close to matching the film's predecessor, "Annabelle," which opened with $37.1 million in October 2014. Warner Bros. could celebrate not only the month's biggest debut but also having the week's top two films. Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" followed in second with $11.4 million in its fourth weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Even amid an especially weak August, the well-reviewed horror sequel and modestly budgeted "Annabelle: Creation" found eager audiences.

"That we were able to do $35 million in what is a very sluggish marketplace was very impressive," said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.' distribution chief. "We all know that moviegoing begets moviegoing and right now it's a dip in the content overall."

The film, the third to spiral out of 2013's "The Conjuring," cost only about $15 million to make. More sequels and spinoffs are being developed in what has become for Warner Bros. a steadily profitable horror franchise bent on old-school frights. The "Annabelle" offshoot centers on a possessed doll.

Last week's top film, the poorly received Stephen King adaptation "The Dark Tower," slid dramatically. The Sony Pictures release, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, toppled nearly 60 percent on its second weekend with an estimated $7.9 million.

The week's other new entry, the Open Road animated release "Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature," edged just above "The Dark Tower" with $8.9 million. That was well below the 2014 debut of the original, "The Nut Job," which opened with $19.4 million.

But the solid returns for "Annabelle: Creation" did little to counter the box-office slide. The box office was down 31.6 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Suicide Squad" was No. 1 despite brutal reviews and Seth Rogen's "Sausage Party" opened. The summer altogether is down 12.4 percent from last year, according to comScore.

"This is a great weekend to be a really scary doll and Warner Bros., but for everyone else, it's just plain scary," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "It proves the horror genre is alive and well."

Some of July's bright spots, however, have continued into August. The summer's top comedy, "Girls Trip," will soon surpass $100 million domestically. The movie, starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, took in $6.5 million in its fourth week to bring its cumulative total to $97.2 million. It may end up doubling the gross of its closest summer comedy competition: the starrier and pricey "Baywatch" ($58.1 million in its entire run).

In limited release, the A24 crime thriller "Good Time," starring Robert Pattinson, debuted with a robust $34,000 per-screen average on four screens. That was bettered, though, by the $47,000 screen-average of Neon's "Ingrid Goes West," with Aubrey Plaza, on three screens. Both films expand in coming weeks.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Annabelle: Creation," $35 million ($35 million international).

2. "Dunkirk," $11.4 million ($14.5 million international).

3. "Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature," $8.9 million.

4. "The Dark Tower," $7.9 million ($7.9 million international).

5. "The Emoji Movie," $6.6 million ($14.1 million international).

6. "Girls Trip," $6.5 million ($1.4 million international).

7. "Spider-Man: Homecoming," $6.1 million ($12.4 million international).

8. "Kidnap," $5.2 million.

9. "Glass Castle," $4.9 million.

10. "Atomic Blonde," $4.6 million ($5.2 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore

1. "Wolf Warrior 2," $83.6 million.

2. "Annabelle Creation," $35 million.

3. "Guilty of Mind," $23.6 million.

4. "The Adventures," $22.3 million.

5. "War for the Planet of the Apes," $17.1 million.

6. "A Taxi Driver," $15.3 million.

7. "Despicable Me 3," $15 million.

8. "Dunkirk," $14.5 million.

9. "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," $14.4 million.

10. "The Emoji Movie," $14.1 million.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Must Read

Undersea surprise: Big-eyed squid looks more toy than animal

Aug 18, 2016

A team of scientists and technicians scanning the rocky ocean floor off Southern California...

Image of Asia: Protesting killings of civilians in Kashmir

Aug 22, 2016

Image of Asia: Neighbors and relatives of a man killed by a tear gas shell shout anti-India slogans...

Scams & waste loom as charity millions donated after Orlando

Aug 28, 2016

The more than 430 fundraisers posted on the GoFundMe website after the mass shooting at an Orlando...

Liz Weston: 5 money myths you probably believe

Aug 29, 2016

Don't let widely held myths pull the rug out from under your finances

Ask Brianna: Should I ask for more money at my first job?

Aug 30, 2016

Negotiating a higher salary is expected and encouraged, even at your first full-time job, and...

People also read these

UN to provide 'material assistance' to Haiti cholera victims

Aug 19, 2016

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the United Nations has "a moral responsibility" to the victims...

Italy, German, French eye beefed up EU defense after attacks

Aug 22, 2016

The leaders of Italy, France and Germany vowed Monday to improve European-wide security efforts in...

Image of Asia: Developing football skills in Pyongyang

Aug 24, 2016

Image of Asia: Youths play with a ball during a break at Pyongyang International Football School in...

Mylan boosts EpiPen patient programs, doesn't budge on price

Aug 25, 2016

Mylan, now in the crosshairs over severe price hikes for its EpiPen, says that it going to expand...

Scams & waste loom as charity millions donated after Orlando

Aug 28, 2016

The more than 430 fundraisers posted on the GoFundMe website after the mass shooting at an Orlando...

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH