A $28 million opening weekend may not seem like a big achievement at the box office, but for a comedy like Universal’s “Night School,” it’s definitely a win. At a time when only a precious few comedies have found success at the box office, “Night School” has posted the best opening for the genre this year, beating the $20.6 million start for fellow Universal release “Blockers.”
Released on 3,091 screens, the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish film is only a few paces behind the $31 million opening for “Girls Trip,” the previous collaboration between Haddish, director Malcolm D. Lee and producer Will Packer. With a budget of $29 million and a CinemaScore grade of A-, the film is in position to turn a solid profit. Next week it will face steep competition in the form of Sony’s Marvel film “Venom” and Warner Bros.’ awards contender “A Star Is Born.”
Warner Bros.’ animated film “Smallfoot” was in second this weekend, meeting tracker expectations by opening to $23 million from 4,131 locations. This is a slightly higher start than the two previous September releases from Warner Animation Group, “Storks” ($21.3 million) and “The Lego Ninjago Movie” ($20.4 million).
In third is Universal’s “The House With a Clock in Its Walls,” earning $12.5 million in its second weekend for a decent drop-off of 53 percent and a 10-day total of $44.7 million. Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor” is in fourth with $6.5 million in its third weekend, pushing its domestic total to $43 million.
Two horror films are in a narrow race for the last spot in the top five: WB/New Line’s “The Nun” and Lionsgate/CBS Films’ “Hell Fest.” “The Nun” is in the lead with $5.4 million, pushing its total to $109 million after four weekends.
“Hell Fest,” which opens this weekend, has hit the lower end of tracker projections with $5 million, though it has not been received well, with a 33 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and a C on CinemaScore. With the highly anticipated return of Michael Myers and “Halloween” next month, it’s not likely that “Hell Fest” will have much of a footprint this Halloween season, but the studios have already made their money back with a $5.5 million co-financed budget.