“The Nun” earned $5.4 million in previews on Thursday, making it the highest pre-show earner in the “Conjuring” universe.
In comparison, “Annabelle: Creation” grossed $4 million in previews last year, while “The Conjuring 2” made $3.4 million in 2016. In 2014, “Annabelle” earned $2.1 million, while the first “Conjuring” grossed $3.3 million in 2013.
So far, the highest-grossing opener in the franchise is the first “Conjuring,” which opened to $41.8 million, followed by its sequel, “Conjuring 2,” with $40.4 million.
“The Nun,” directed by Corin Hardy, is expected to open in the high $40 million range this weekend from 3,700 screens, with the most optimistic projections reaching $52 million. WB is projecting a low $40 million start, based on a $22 million budget. If “The Nun” hits the higher end of projections, it will have the second-highest opening for a September release behind “It.” That spot currently belongs to “Hotel Transylvania 2” with $48 million.
Gary Dauberman and James Wan wrote the screenplay, while Wan and Peter Safran produced. “The Nun” is a spin-off based around Valak, the demonic nun that faced off against Ed and Lorraine Warren in “The Conjuring 2.”
Set in Romania in 1952, the film follows a Catholic priest (Demian Bichir) and a young novice named Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) as they are sent by the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at the Carta Monastery. Bonnie Aarons returns to reprise her role as the titular demon.
Jennifer Garner’s “Peppermint” took in $800,000 on Thursday night from 2,340 locations. Expected to open in the $10 million to $15 million range, “Peppermint” also stars John Ortiz, John Gallagher, Jr. and Juan Pablo Raba.
“Taken’s” Pierre Morel directed, while Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright and Eric Reid produced. The film follows a mourning mother who hunts down those who murdered her husband and daughter.
Finally, there’s Entertainment Studios’ faith-based drama “God Bless the Broken Road, the latest film from “God’s Not Dead” director Harold Cronk. Starring Lindsey Pulsipher as a mother who struggles to raise her daughter after her husband is killed in Afghanistan, the film is expected to open outside the top five this weekend with a $2-4 million opening.