Like many horrors before it, bad reviews didn't scare off moviegoers from buying tickets for " The Nun II." The sequel to the 2018 hit, released in 3,728 theaters by Warner Bros., topped the box office in its first weekend in North American theaters earning an estimated $32.6 million, the studio said Sunday.
AP's Mark Kennedy wrote in his one-star review that it's "a movie that seems destined to pound a nail into this franchise's undead coffin" and audiences gave it a C+ CinemaScore. But it hardly matters: Horror is perhaps the most reliably critic-proof genre, at least when it comes to opening weekend.
The Michael Graves-directed sequel starring Taissa Farmiga and Storm Reid fell far short of the debut for the first film ($53.8 million), but it's still a solid launch. "The Nun" movies are part of the so-called Conjuring universe, which now has nine films, and $2.1 billion in box office, to its name. The sequel also played well internationally, picking up $52.7 million from 69 markets (Mexico being the strongest with $8.9 million) and boosting its global debut to $85.3 million.
"To have a horror universe is really powerful in terms of the revenue generating potential," said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. "It's a great bet that Warners made on the horror moviegoing experience never waning."
And there are many more scary movies on the calendar through the fall including "A Death in Venice," which opens next week, "Saw X" on Sept. 29 and "The Exorcist: Believer" on Oct. 6.
"The Nun II" bumped Denzel Washington's " Equalizer 3 " to second place in its second weekend. The Columbia Pictures release added $12.1 million, bringing its domestic grosses to $61.9 million and its worldwide earnings to $107.7 million.
Third place went to another new movie: The third installment of Nia Vardalos's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which arrives 21 years after the first film became a massive sleeper hit earning some $369 million against a $5 million production budget. Released by Focus Features in 3,650 theaters, the third film earned an estimated $10 million, overwhelmingly driven by female audiences (71%) who were 25 or older (83%).
Vardalos wrote, directed and stars in "Greek Wedding 3," which brings back John Corbett and takes the gang to Greece. AP's Jocelyn Noveck wrote in her review that the movie, which has gotten mostly poor marks, is "like a thrice-warmed piece of baklava."
The Indian revenge thriller, "Jawan," starring Shah Rukh Khan, opened in fourth place with $6.2 million from only 813 locations. It was released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Khan, a Bollywood superstar, also led another box office sensation this year, "Pathaan," which has made $130 million worldwide.
"Barbie," which comes to VOD on Tuesday, dropped to No. 5 after 8 triumphant weeks with $5.9 million from 3,281 locations. The Warner Bros. film has now made $620.5 million domestically.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Nun II," $32.6 million.
2. "The Equalizer 3," $12.1 million.
3. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3," $10 million.
4. "Jawan," $6.2 million.
5. "Barbie," $5.9 million.
6. "Blue Beetle," $3.8 million.
7. "Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story," $3.4 million.
8. "Oppenheimer," $3 million.
9. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," $2.6 million.