A Quiet Place Part II Battles The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It at the Box Office

In a box office battle of the scares, “A Quiet Place Part II” is facing off against the latest “Conjuring” installment for big-screen dominance.

Heading into the weekend, Paramount’s sequel to “A Quiet Place” appears to have a slight edge over the competition and should remain victorious on U.S. charts. The film, directed by John Krasinski and starring Emily Blunt, debuted ahead of Memorial Day with $48 million, a pandemic-era record, and ended the extended holiday weekend with a robust $58 million. In its second outing, ticket sales for “A Quiet Place Part II” are expected to dip around 50% from the weekend prior for a three-day haul around $21 million to $24 million.

At this pace, “A Quiet Place 2” should have no problem crossing the $100 million mark in U.S. theaters. That wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment in pre-pandemic times, but there hasn’t been a single film to surpass that milestone since the onset of COVID-19. The Warner Bros. and Legendary tentpole “Godzilla vs. Kong” is also primed to hit that benchmark, with domestic ticket sales currently at $98.3 million, but its momentum has slowed considerably.

Meanwhile, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” should pull in roughly $20 million in its initial weekend of release. The supernatural horror film is playing in 3,100 U.S. theaters while premiering simultaneously on HBO Max. A $20 million opening would be on par with its “Conjuring” franchise predecessor, 2018’s “Annabelle Comes Home.” That film, which shares a creepy universe with the Conjuring world, debuted to $20 million and went on to make $74 million in the U.S. and $231 million globally. In the main “Conjuring” series, the most recent sequel was 2016’s “The Conjuring 2,” which kicked off with $40 million and ended its domestic run with $102 million.

As a whole, the seven films in the “Conjuring” universe have been commercially successful because the studio tends to keep production budgets modest. The latest entry carries a price tag around $30 million.

In “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” onscreen exorcism experts Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as paranormal investigators, this time taking on a demonic case that’s based on the 1981 murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson. It’s received decent reviews for a horror movie, though Variety’s chief film critic Owen Gleiberman says the series is starting to wear out its welcome.

“The new film, directed by Michael Chaves, lacks that kinetic haunted-house element,” Gleiberman wrote in his review. “It’s the most somber and meditative and least aggressive of the ‘Conjuring’ films.”

That may not matter to audiences. Good, bad or awful, the horror genre is usually a compelling big-screen draw.

For younger moviegoers, or those who prefer more serene escapist fare, Universal and DreamWorks are releasing “Spirit Untamed,” a sequel to the 2002 film “Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron.” The animated adventure is screening in 3,200 U.S. theaters and looks to generate $5 million through Sunday.

The original movie was released by DreamWorks nearly two decades ago and opened to $17.7 million. Popular among young equestrian lovers, “Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron” ultimately grossed $73 million in the U.S. and $122 million globally. The sequel will likely fall short of its predecessor, though it’ll have a lower threshold to profitability. “Spirit Untamed” cost over $30 million to produce, while the first film cost $80 million.

“Spirit Untamed” centers on Lucky Prescott (voiced by “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” actor Isabela Merced), a headstrong girl who feels out of place in the world until connecting with an enchanting mustang. The voice cast includes Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal.

For the first time in more than a year, the U.S. box office is showing some semblance of normalcy as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic. That should continue throughout the summer, with the release of the musical adaptation “In the Heights” (June 11), “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” starring Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson (June 16) and “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9” (June 25).

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