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Weekend Box Office: The Conjuring Scares Up Record Opening, R.I.P.D. DOA

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By Chris Kavan - 07/21/13 at 10:58 PM CT

While there were four new movies to choose from this weekend, it was the film with the lowest budget that made the biggest waves. While the box office has been on the upswing, this weekend was off 19% from last year - but that was the weekend The Dark Knight Rises bowed, so a loss is very understandable. Even so, there were a few bright spots to be found (along with a few black marks as well) and the year still looks to be saved by a strong summer finish.

1) THE CONJURING

Put another jewel in the crown of the low-budget, high-return horror genre. After The Purge scored a R-rated original horror opening earlier in the year with $34.1 million, The Conjuring obliterated that mark by taking in $41.5 million in its debut. It has already doubled its initial $20 million budget and, in comparison, it's opening was higher than the mega-budget misfire Pacific Rim, which opened with just $37.28 million. It was also the second-best opening for a supernatural horror film and it earned a rare A- cinemascore and was even popular with critics (who often give withering reviews to horror films - not that it often hurts their box office chances). What this means is The Conjuring could be the rare horror film that doesn't take a 60%-70% second-weekend drop and, if it can retain decent numbers, it will have no trouble reaching the $100 million mark (or even more). With little in the way of competition, it will be interesting to see how far it can climb.

2) DESPICABLE ME 2

Despite direct competition from Turbo (see below) - the animated sequel showed little signs of slowing as it managed to take in a tidy $25 million second-place haul. That elevates its total to $276.1 million and the $300 million mark is within striking distance now. The 43% drop is pretty good for the third weekend out and it moved up to the 8th spot in terms of highest-grossing animated film. It's also the best animated total since Toy Story 3 in 2010. The movie should land in the 6th spot all time and may even be able to catch Shrek the Third (at $322.7 million) if it can retain its audience.

3) TURBO

The super fast racing snail kind of sputtered out of the gate. With just $21.5 million, it represented one of the weakest openings for Dreamworks animation - while it opened a few days early, it's $31.2 million five-day start is lower than the disappointed Rise of the Guardians - which took in $32.3 million during the same time frame. Even though it earned an "A" cinemascore, it's looking as if both scheduling and marketing tactics were off and, with The Smurfs 2 not very far away, the film is going to have a tough time breaking the $100 million mark.

4) GROWN UPS 2

Adam Sandler and co. had a decent second weekend, earning an additional $20 million and bringing the sequel up to $79.5 million (just shy of the $80 million budget). The 52% drop is actually less than what the original film fell and it has also earned more than Grown Ups did through the same period. All in all, although crude, juvenile and crass - the film is still going to pass the $100 million mark and keep Sandler in the movie business for awhile longer.

5) RED 2

Much like The Expendables 2, Red 2 failed to live up to its predecessor by offering too much of the same thing. With $18.5 million, the action film featuring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich failed to live up to the first film's $21.8 million opening. Given the rash of weak action films this year, it's not unsurprising. This is going to be a film that is in and out of theaters and success will depend on foreign and home video markets. If it hits $50 million, I would be surprised.

Outside the top five: R.I.P.D. should have stayed buried, as its seventh-place $12.8 million opening (on a $130 million budget) makes it one of the costliest missteps of the year. Both reviews and audience scores (a lowly C+ average) mean this is going to fall like a rock. Good thing Universal has Fast 6 and Despicable Me 2 to fall back on - because this is going to be lucky to reach a quarter of its budget.

After an impressive limited opening, Fruitvale Station expanded ever so slightly to 34 theaters (and went from 19th to 17th place) and still had the best per-theater average with $21,824. The film has taken in $1.33 million and with numbers continuing to look strong, it should have no problem rolling out to more theaters in the coming weeks.

Also doing well in limited release is The Way, Way Back. In just 304 theaters, the film is approached in the $5 million mark, taking in $2.24 million (13th place) and winding up with $4.6 million. That film should also see a continued wider release window in the coming weeks.

After a busy weekend with only one, true standout success, next week brings us The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman visits Japan and all I got was this lousy claw mark down my spine) while Aubrey Plaza looks to get a bit naughty with The To Do List. We'll see if action or comedy can trump horror.

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