‘Nope’ Opening Weekend Slip Is Still a Win for Original Films at the Box Office

Jordan Peele’s third No. 1 film is also the highest post-shutdown opening for any film with an original screenplay

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Universal’s “Nope” fell short of pre-release hopes for a $50 million opening, and audience approval has been mild instead of wild, but Jordan Peele’s third No. 1 release is still a victory for original films at the box office.

With a $44 million opening this weekend, “Nope” has earned the best launch for a film with an original screenplay since Peele’s last film, “Us,” earned a $71 million opening in April 2019. That also makes it the best launch for any original film since the pandemic began.

The numbers for “Nope” are truly a half-filled glass outcome. The half-empty perspective would be that “Nope” will not be as profitable as Peele’s past two films. While the modern classic “Get Out” was made with just a $4.5 million budget and “Us” was made for $20 million, the CGI work and more expansive set pieces filmed in the Santa Clarita Valley sent the budget for “Nope” up to $68 million.

“Nope” should be able to make its money back and exceed $100 million domestic, but with a B on CinemaScore and a 79% positive score on PostTrak, it is not showing the signs of a film with the audience buzz needed to leg out the way “Get Out” did five years ago.

But when the scope is expanded beyond Peele’s track record to look at original films — horror or otherwise — “Nope” is a step forward. Last year, when only the strongest franchises were consistently moving the needle for theaters, 20th Century Studios’ “Free Guy” was a rare exception opening to $28.3 million and then using strong buzz to leg out to a $121.6 million domestic run. It grossed another $209 million overseas.

It’s unlikely that “Nope” will match the overseas number of “Free Guy” given its R rating and Peele’s focus on narratives that resonate more with American audiences, but it may be able to come close to that film’s $121 million domestic run given that Sony’s “Bullet Train” will be the only direct competitor to adult audiences in August.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster