A serious social-media surge suggests “The Conjuring” is about to become the fifth horror movie to win the weekend box office this year, with projections for the creepy thriller now heading north of $25 million.
That would be a nice payday for Warner Bros. and New Line, which are behind the $20 million chiller, directed by James Wan (“Insidious”). Online buzz doesn't always make for blockbuster grosses — “Pacific Rim” can attest — but the relatively low-budget "Conjuring" doesn't need to be a mainstream hit.
The very crowded weekend — there are three other wide openers — looks like a scramble after that. DreamWorks Animation’s “Turbo” opened Wednesday, and Summit’s “Red 2” and Universal’s “R.I.P.D.” also debut nationwide on Friday. Current champ “Despicable Me 2,” “Red 2” and “Turbo” are all expected to wind up in the $20 million range for the three-day period.
What’s giving “The Conjuring” the edge in the eyes of analysts at this point are the social media numbers. From July 9-16, there have been 222,723 mentions of the movie on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs. Ninety-one percent of them are positive.
“That’s not as big as ‘The Purge,’ but it’s still very strong,” said Ben Carlson, of the social-media analytics firm Fizziology. He was referring to the $3 million Universal horror movie that also saw a major social media surge just prior to opening to $34 million last month.
Besides “The Purge,” three other horror movies have opened at No. 1 at the box office this year: Universal’s “Mama” and New Line’s “Chainsaw Massacre” did it in January and Sony TriStar’s “Evil Dead” topped the first week in April.
Carlson said the pre-release numbers for “The Conjuring” numbers are close to those of “Evil Dead,” which debuted to $25 million. “But the positives for ‘Evil Dead’ were much lower at 53 percent and the negatives were much higher at 21 percent," he said.
The production budget for “The Conjuring” isn’t micro like “The Purge,” and some of that went to the cast, which is impressive for a genre film. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as paranormal investigators who come to the assistance of a couple (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) that is experiencing disturbing event at the Rhode Island farm. It’s based on a true story.
"The Conjuring" is rated R and will be in more than 2,600 theaters.
if “Red 2” does indeed come in north of $20 million it will match the debut of the original film, which opened to $21 million in October of 2010. That would be fine by Summit, since “Red” went on to take in nearly $200 million worldwide.
Like the first film, the action comedy targets adults over 30 years of age. Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary Louise Parker reprise their roles from the first film, and Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones join the ensemble cast. This one features Frank Moses (Willis) on the trail of a Cold War-era nuclear weapon secretly spirited into Russia.
Dean Parisot is the director, replacing Robert Schwentke – who is the director of “R.I.P.D.” That's one of three cases of overlap this weekend. Ryan Reynolds voices the lead snail in “Turbo” and stars with Jeff Bridges in “R.I.P.D.,” and Parker co-stars in that film as well as “Red 2.”
“Red 2” is rated PG-13 and will be in roughly 2,900 theaters. “R.I.P.D.” will be in about 2,800 while “Turbo” is playing at 3,552 locations.