New Line Cinema’s sequel to the surprise 2013 horror hit “The Conjuring” is set to dominate the weekend, even as it faces off against Universal’s big-budgeted video game adaptation “Warcraft, which is expected to tank at the domestic box office.
Made on a production budget just above $40 million, “The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist” is expected to make approximately $40 million from 3,300 screens, with distributor Warner Bros. estimates set just higher than $35 million.
Again directed by James Wan (“Furious 7,” “Saw”), the followup film features returning stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as they come to the aid of a single mother in London whose family is haunted by evil spirits.
As of now, the sequel has a barely fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 64 percent, but that could change as more reviews roll in. The first installment garnered 86 percent on the reviews site.
All told, “The Conjuring 2” will likely come in just shy of its predecessor, which debuted with $41.9 million.
Nonetheless, its odds are good compared to those of “Warcraft,” which was made for a whopping $160 million, not counting marketing costs. The video-game movie will take in about $25 million as it opens in North America, both analysts and Universal predict.
That’s also the number that prognosticators are targeting for Lionsgate’s star-studded stage-magic sequel “Now You See Me 2.”
On average, analysts set the movie’s debut at $25 million, with studio estimates in the low 20s. Thus, the sequel is positioned to open lower than the original did when it bowed to $29.4 million in 2013.
Of course, the production budget of “Now You See Me 2” was much higher this time around: Reported at around $90 million, it cost $15 million more than the first film.
Featuring returning cast members Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Morgan Freeman and newcomers Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan and Michael Caine, the film about the continuing adventures of the Four Horsemen has not been well received by critics so far. It has a score of 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is two percentage points off from the marks for its predecessor.
“Warcraft,” set to open in roughly 3,400 locations, is getting it even worse from critics, whose pans amount to a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 13 percent.
The movie is sizing up to be much more of an international play, having already amassed $75 million abroad in 25 markets. It opens in China on Wednesday, during a national holiday, where it’s tracking strongly.
“We can’t just look at it from a North America perspective,” said comScore senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “It’s a fairly new phenomenon that the international component is offsetting negativity from an underwhelming North American debut,” he said, citing “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as a prime example.
Unlike what appears to be the fate of “Warcraft,” the 2014 Paramount blockbuster sequel directed by Michael Bay was considered a success domestically. Still, it made nearly 80 percent of its $1.1 billion from international markets.