‘Annabelle: Creation’ Conjures Surprise $35 Million at Box Office

New movie in horror franchise beats expectations by nearly topping debut of first “Annabelle”

Horror movies continued their trend of strong performances this weekend, as Warner Bros./New Line’s “Annabelle: Creation” won the No. 1 spot handily with a $35 million opening. Trackers had pegged the film for an opening of $27-30 million. Instead, “Creation” has nearly matched the opening results of the first “Annabelle,” which made $37.1 million in 2014.

While critics mostly panned the first “Annabelle” with a 29 percent rating, critics who saw “Creation” at the Los Angeles Film Festival and San Diego Comic-Con were much kinder, giving this prequel a 69 percent RT score. Audiences gave the film a B on CinemaScore, same as its predecessor.

Taking second is another WB film, “Dunkirk,” which earned $11.4 million in its fourth weekend. That result puts “Dunkirk” past the $150 million domestic mark with $153 million.

In third is Open Road’s “The Nut Job 2,” which is performing well below tracker projections with $8.5 million against studio and tracker pre-weekend projections in the mid-teens. Anything less than an A- for an animated film on CinemaScore is considered poor reception, as strong results from underage audiences tend to bump up the grade. But “Nut Job 2” only received a B+ on CinemaScore, while receiving an abysmal 11 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

In fourth is Columbia/MRC’s “The Dark Tower,” which took a 60 percent hit from its $19.5 million opening to make $7.8 million in its second weekend. Fighting for the last spot in the top five are two holdover titles: “Girls Trip” and “The Emoji Movie,” which are both estimated to make around $6.5 million this weekend. It’s a particularly good result for “Girls Trip,” as this week it will become the first comedy to gross $100 million domestically. Also crossing the $100 million mark this week is TriStar/MRC’s “Baby Driver” after seven weekends in theaters, becoming the first film from director Edgar Wright to do so.

Finishing outside the top 5 in ninth is Lionsgate’s “The Glass Castle,” which had a targeted release of 1,400 screens and made an estimated $4.87 million. Pre-weekend projection put the adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ memoirs at $5-7 million. The film has a 50 percent RT score. Meanwhile, Annapurna’s “Detroit” fell 59 percent to $2.9 million, bringing its cume to just $13.3 million after ten days in wide release.