First Among Sequels: ‘The Nun II’ Leads a Franchise-Dominated Top 10

Lesson reinforced: If you release the ninth film in a series, make sure there’s a smaller number in the title.

“The Nun II” (Warner Bros.) is the ninth film in the studio’s long-running “Conjuring” series. The decade-old franchise was created by James Wan. All films had low-end budgets and usually were profitable.

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With a $32.6 million domestic opening, this one will follow suit. Beyond its studio, the film is a real win for theaters. With last week’s $34 million debut for “The Equalizer 3” (Sony), that gives September two openings over $30 million in a month that often has none. (In 2019 there were three, so it’s not a record.)

New Line Cinema, which produced “The Nun II,” has a track record for horror movies released in early September. These include “It” (2017) and “It Chapter Two” (2019) as well as “The Nun”(2017), all of which opened to over $50 million. Initial foreign dates for “The Nun II” came to nearly $53 million, so it’s unlikely to meet or beat the “The Nun.” That 2018 film grossed $365.6 million worldwide.

September weekend totals over $100 million are rare. This weekend will get to close to $90 million; so did last weekend, which had the benefit of the Labor Day holiday. For now, that extends year-to-date improvement over 2022 to 26 percent. For September, it’s nearly double of last year ($225 million to $115 million). This trend won’t continue through the fall for most weeks, but it builds fortification for meeting the goal of $9 billion for the year (up from $7.4 billion in 2022).

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3"
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3”Focus Features

The weekend was bolstered by two other niche openings. Focus’ “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” this time with star and creator Nia Vardalos directing, grossed $10 million for #3 — somewhat better than projected. Its audience was 71 percent female, 83 percent over 25 (atypical for most movies). It improved slightly Saturday from its preview/Friday gross, with an above-average Sunday hold anticipated. “Nun” dropped 11 percent Friday to Saturday.

Indian action-thriller”Jawan” (Yash Raj) took fourth place, with $6.2 million ($7.5 million with Thursday opening added) in 827 theaters. Simultaneous worldwide release in over 10,000 theaters grossed $48 million by Saturday.

BOTTOMS, from left: Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri, 2023. © United Artists / courtesy Everett Collection
“Bottoms” ©United Artists/Courtesy Everett Collection

Only one holdover dropped less than 40 percent. Emma Seligman’s comedy “Bottoms” (MGM) dropped 33 percent after gaining 550 theaters and made just over $2 million for the weekend. It’s now at $7.6 million, a good outcome for this low-budget comedy with specialized roots.

The biggest drop was “The Equalizer 3,” which dropped 65 percent in its second weekend but placed #2. This is the first time in eight weeks that neither “Barbie” (WB) nor “Oppenheimer” (Universal) is in the top four. Greta Gerwig’s film is #5, off 42 percent (decent post-holiday), with a $620 million domestic gross to date. Christopher Nolan’s biopic dropped 48 percent to #8. Its total is $315 million.

aOf note among openers this weekend is “Amerikatsi” (Variance), which took in $59,000 in three theaters dominated by the AMC Americana Theater in Glendale, California. The Los Angeles suburb is located in the heart of the country’s Armenian community, making it the natural exclusive run in the area. The comedy-drama is about an American who returns to his native country in 1948, only to be imprisoned. Michael Goorjian, the director/writer/star appeared at Americana showings Thursday and Friday, boosting already strong interest. Two dates in New York added a small amount to the total. Variance also is the enterprising company handling “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” for AMC Theaters nationwide.

The Top 10

1. The Nun II (WB) NEW – Cinemascore: C+; Metacritic: 34 ; Est. budget: $35 million

$32,600,000 in 3,728 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $8,745; Cumulative: $32,600,000

2. The Equalizer 3 (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$12,100,000 (-65%) in 3,965 (no change) theaters; PTA: $3,052; Cumulative: $61,900,000

3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Focus) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 48

$10,000,000 in 3,650 theaters; PTA: $2,739; Cumulative: $10,000,000

4. Jawan (Yash Raj) NEW – Est. budget: $38 million

$6,192,000 in 827 theaters; PTA: $7,616; Cumulative: $7,556,000

5. Barbie (Warner Bros.) Week 8; Last weekend #2

$5,900,000 (-42%) in 3,281 (-305) theaters; PTA: $1,798; Cumulative: $620,477,000

6. Blue Beetle (Warner Bros.) Week 4; Last week #3

$3,775,000 (-47%) in 2,786 (-530) theaters; PTA: $1,355; Cumulative: $63,704,000

7. Gran Turismo (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$3,375,000 (-49%) in 2,765 (-1,089) theaters; PTA: $1,221; Cumulative: $35,700,000

8. Oppenheimer (Universal) Week 8; Last weekend #5

$3,000,000 (-48%) in 2,091 (-452) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $315,137,000

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #6; also on PVOD

$2,600,000 (-44%) in 2,500 2,955 (-455) theaters; PTA: $1,040; Cumulative: $111,327,000

10. Bottoms (MGM) Week 3; Last weekend #7

$2,050,000 (-33%) in 1,265 715 (+550) theaters; PTA: $1,622; Cumulative: $7,600,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed.

Amerikatsi (Variance) NEW – Metacritic: 55; Festivals include: Woodstock 2022

$59,189 in 3 theaters; PTA: $119,730

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Blue Fox) NEW – Metacritic: 70; Festivals include: Toronto 2022

$240,214 in 525 theaters; PTA: $

Golda (Bleecker Street) Week 3

$292,276 in 331 (-460) theaters; PTA: $884; Cumulative: $4,115,000

Fremont (Music Box) Week 3

$34,391 in 23 (+14) theaters; Cumulative: $127,797

Piaffe (Oscilloscope) Week 3

$2,120 in 2 (-1) theaters; Cumulative: $12,279

Oldboy (Neon) REISSUE Week 4

$30,000 in 33 (-38) theaters; Cumulative: $2,921,000 (adjusted)

Birth/Rebirth (IFC) Week 4

$11,485 in 9 (-9) theaters; Cumulative: $131,812

Jules (Bleecker Street) Week 5

$18,099 in 54 (-7) theaters; Cumulative: $1,866,000

CatVideo Fest 2023 (Oscilloscope) Week 6

$64,150 in 67 theaters; Cumulative: $468,432

Theater Camp (Searchlight) Week 9

$43,000 in 70 (-30) theaters; Cumulative: $3,894,000

The Miracle Club (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 9

$34,302 in 59 (-57) theaters; Cumulative: $2,278,000

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