LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Reuters
Box Office: 'The Nun' delivers best opening in 'Conjuring' series with heavenly US$53.5 million

"The Nun" had a divine opening weekend atop the North American box office.

Warner Bros. dominated for the fifth weekend in a row as the latest instalment in the "Conjuring" series launched with US$53.5 million in 3,876 locations. That easily marks the best debut in the series, crushing 2013's "The Conjuring," which previously held the record with US$41.8 million. It's also the second-best September debut behind Warner Bros. "It." Overseas, "The Nun" generated a mighty US$77.5 million for a global start of US$131 million.

Corin Hardy's horror flick - starring Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga - broke a number of franchise records this weekend. It had the largest Thursday showing out of the five movies (US$5.4 million), as well as the biggest opening day (US$22.3 million). Imax screens accounted for US$4.5 million of "The Nun's" debut.

The first four movies in Warner Bros.' "Conjuring" franchise - "The Conjuring," "Annabelle," "The Conjuring 2," and "Annabelle: Creation" - have generated over US$1.1 billion globally.

"We knew heading into the weekend that anticipation for 'The Nun' was extremely high across multiple demos, but these results surpassed all our expectations," Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution, said. "We anticipate strong word of mouth to carry the film well into the fall, and expect more than a few Nuns showing up on doorsteps and at parties this Halloween!"

Warner Bros. is on a hot streak. The studio has topped the domestic box office for five consecutive weekends. It's also held the No. 1 and 2 spots for four straight weeks, the first time a studio has held that distinction in 25 years. The studio maintained No. 2 with "Crazy Rich Asians," which an impressive US$13.5 million in its fourth weekend - a decline of just 13 percent. Jon M. Chu's rom-com has now earned US$136 million in North America.

Cast member Taissa Farmiga

Among newcomers, STX's "Peppermint" opened on par with projections. Jennifer Garner's R-rated action thriller secured third place with US$13.2 million when it debuted in 2,890 locations.

The final new entry of the weekend, faith-based drama "God Bless the Broken Road," bowed with a dismal US$1.5 million on 1,272 screens. The movie is loosely based on the hit Rascal Flatts song and stars "American Idol" alum Jordin Sparks, Robin Givens, Lindsay Pulsipher, and former NFL player LaDainian Tomlinson.

Rounding out the top five with impressive holdovers is Warner Bros. shark thriller "The Meg" and Sony's "Searching." "The Meg" earned another US$6.1 million for a domestic tally of US$131.6 million. Meanwhile, "Searching" brought in US$4.5 million, taking its North American total to US$14.3 million.

At the specialty box office, Magnolia's documentary "Kusama - Infinity" opened in just two locations, where it brought in US$30,400. That translates to an impressive US$15,200 per screen.

The first weekend in September is down from last year by 28.3 percent, according to comScore, but that's to be expected after "It" came along to smash expectations with its massive US$123 million debut. Still, the box office is up a healthy 9.5 percent compared to 2017.

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