The case remains unsolved for now.
Kenneth Branagh’s new entry A Haunting in Venice — the third installment in his Agatha Christie-inspired movie series — had hoped to top the domestic box office chart in its debut but instead has found itself in a virtual tie for No. 1 with holdover The Nun II.
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Sunday estimates from New Line/Warner Bros. show the Nun sequel narrowly coming in ahead with $14.7 million, while 20th Century Studios/Disney have Haunting in Venice earning $14.5 million. When Sunday projections are this close — only $200,000 separate the two films — the industry generally considers it a tie until the final numbers come in Monday.
This time out, Disney’s marketing team made the decision to highlight the movie’s horror elements, versus only the murder mystery themes.
“Sunday estimates are estimates for a reason, and whenever two films are in this close of proximity, it becomes more a matter of semantics as to whether to call it a tie or a tight race,” says Comscore chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Either way, the horror genre has become de rigueur with studios and, hopefully, that trend will continue with audiences as still many more scary movies are set to arrive on the big screen in the coming weeks.”
Horror offering The Nun II, which fell 55 percent in its second outing, has grossed an estimated $56.5 million domestically in its first 10 days. Overseas, it earned another $30.1 million from 72 markets to jump the $100 million mark internationally for a global total of $158.8 million. In like-for-like foreign markets, the movie is pacing ahead of all other titles in the The Conjuring universe behind The Nun.
While A Haunting in Venice opened in line with expectations, it’s still a muted start for the film, which will need strong legs to come out ahead. Similar to other recent movies with a buzzy cast, the threequel had to make its final publicity push without the help of its stars because of the ongoing actors strike. One plus: plenty of younger adults — who are the most avid moviegoers — made up the majority of the audience. The big negative: older moviegoers, the franchise’s traditional target demo, didn’t show up in the hoped-for numbers.
Overseas — from where the franchise draws much of its strength — Haunting in Venice opened to $22.7 million in its first 51 markets for a global start of $37.2 million.
In addition to directing, Branagh reprises his role as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot in A Haunting in Venice opposite Camille Cottin, Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Kyle Allen and Riccardo Scamarcio.
Haunting isn’t opening far ahead of the last film in the series, Death on the Nile, which started off with $12.8 million in February 2022, when the box office was still in recovery mode. The sequel was among the many films delayed because of COVID-19; it also had to contend with negative publicity surrounding star Armie Hammer (he doesn’t appear in the new film). That film’s ensemble cast also included Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright. Death on the Nile topped out at a subdued $137.3 million globally.
20th Century, a division of Disney, kept the budget of A Haunting at $60 million compared to at least $90 million for the last one.
In 2017, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express turned into a sleeper hit after opening to $28.6 million domestically on its way to earning more than $350 million worldwide. (The first film’s ensemble cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp.) All three received a B CinemaScore, although A Haunting has notably better reviews.
Elsewhere in the top 10, Sony’s The Equalizer 3 came in third with $7.1 million for a domestic tally of $73.7 through its third Sunday and $132.4 million worldwide.
Focus Features’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 continued to lag, falling 53 percent in its second weekend to $4.7 million for a domestic total of $18.6 million.
Overall, moviegoing is slowing down after the summer rush. One fun tidbit: Greta Gerwig’s record-smashing July blockbuster Barbie remained in the top 5 domestically with $3.4 million in its ninth weekend. Globally, it has now earned a staggering $1.41 billion.
And Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer celebrated another milestone in becoming the top-grossing biopic ever at the global box office after passing up Bohemian Rhapsody this weekend. The Universal movie’s estimated worldwide haul through Sunday is $912.7 million.
Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, about the 2021 GameStop stock phenomenon fueled by individual investors driven by social media, opened in six locations this weekend. Sony had intended to roll out the film nationwide Sept. 22 but decided to go more slowly because of the strike and the inability of actors to promote the film.
Dumb Money stars Paul Dano and Pete Davidson. America Ferrera, Seth Rogen, Shailene Woodley and Anthony Ramos co-star in the film, which made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Its estimated opening weekend location average is $27,080.
This story was originally published Sept. 16 at 8:37 a.m.
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