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Box Office: ‘The Nun II’ Narrowly Beats Kenneth Branagh’s ‘A Haunting in Venice’ for No. 1

UPDATED: After a close box office race, “The Nun II” managed to claim victory over newcomer “A Haunting in Venice.”

The two films were competing for No. 1 over the weekend, but the Warner Bros. thriller “The Nun II” ever-so-slightly outpaced the competition with $14.5 million in its second weekend as Disney’s murder mystery “A Haunting in Venice” inched closely behind with a middling $14.3 million debut.

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Regardless of which film finished in first place, this was a downright dreary weekend at the box office. Overall ticket sales topped out at just $62 million, according to Comscore, resulting in the second-worst weekend of the year. “Nothing says ‘normal’ like a post-summer slowdown at the box office, and this year is no exception,” says senior Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“A Haunting in Venice,” the third of director Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptations, collected another $22.7 million at the international box office, bringing its global tally to $37.2 million. In North America, tickets sales were slightly better than its trilogy predecessor, 2022’s “Death on the Nile” ($12.8 million while the box office was recovering from COVID), but down considerably from the first in the series, 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express” ($28.6 million).

Disney and 20th Century spent $60 million on “A Haunting in Venice,” a smaller price tag than the $90 million-budgeted “Death on the Nile.” Branagh, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey and Michelle Yeoh star in the film, adapted from Christie’s 1969 novel “Hallowe’en Party. The story follows a now-retired Hercule Poirot, who must solve the murder of a guest at a séance he attended. Neither critics nor audiences were particularly charmed by “Venice,” which has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and “B” Cinemascore.

David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, predicts “A Haunting in Venice” will make up ground at the international box office. “At a cost of around $60 million, the movie isn’t going to lose money after it finishes playing in the foreign markets,” he says.

In its sophomore outing, “The Nun II” beat expectations with its 55% decline. Horror movies tend to have bigger week-to-week drops; 2018’s “The Nun” slid by 66% in its second weekend. After 10 days on the big screen, the scary sequel has generated $56.3 million domestically and a healthy $102.3 million internationally.

Denzel Washington’s “Equalizer 3” took third place with $7.23 million, bringing its North American total to $73.68 million after three weeks of release. The film has grossed $132.4 million globally, including $58.7 million overseas.

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” landed in fourth place, adding $4.7 million in its second weekend of release. So far, the third romantic comedy about Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) and her extended relatives has generated $18.5 million in North America.

Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster “Barbie” rounded out box office charts with $3.5 million, remaining in the top five for nine (!) consecutive weekends. The Warner Bros. movie has earned $625 million at the domestic box office, outpacing Marvel’s 2012 tentpole “The Avengers” ($623 million) as the 11th-highest grossing release in history.

Elsewhere at the box office, Sony’s GameStop stock frenzy-inspired “Dumb Money” brought in a paltry $217,000 from eight theaters (averaging $27,080 per location) across six markets. The R-rated film, directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and America Ferrera, is slowly expanding next weekend before opening nationwide on Sept. 29. Like “A Haunting in Venice,” a starry movie like “Dumb Money” could have benefitted from its cast on the press circuit. However, the cast of famous faces aren’t allowed to talk about or promote their work during the current SAG strike.

At the Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Dumb Money,” screenwriter Lauren Schuker Blum compared the Hollywood labor strikes to the battle between Reddit investors and Wall Street tycoons over the GameStop stock that’s depicted in the movie. “It’s rigged on Wall Street,” she said. “And it’s rigged in Hollywood.”

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