An original movie opening with $50M at the box office these days? 'Nope.' (NASDAQ:CMCSA)

Those moviegoers who have sequel-and-franchise fatigue from current films have something new to look forward to this weekend at the box office.

Nope (NASDAQ:CMCSA), the third major film from director Jordan Peele, is likely to become the top-drawing original film since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s taking on the two-week Marvel winner in Thor: Love and Thunder (NYSE:DIS), as well as another week of Minions: The Rise of Gru (CMCSA) – but with an R rating and horror/sci-fi bent, it will be pursuing a different type of audience.

Peele, formerly a sketch comedian, made an instant splash as a Hollywood director with his 2017 scarefest Get Out, as well as follow-up Us, which grossed $176M and $175M respectively domestically.

And while the heavy blockbuster release schedule is cooling off from here until the end of the summer, Peele’s Get Out opened to more than $33M, and Us to more than $71M, building hopes for a few more strong weekends ahead with Nope in the fold.

Nope drew a healthy $6.4M in Thursday previews; by comparison, Us hit $7.4M with its preview. So most observers are tabbing Nope for an opening in a range around $50M, depending on how viewers respond to the secretive plot. And while it has a bigger budget, whether it lands in the same narrow $175M total gross range of Peele’s previous films remains to be seen.

Last weekend’s domestic chart was topped by Thor: Love and Thunder with $46.6M in its second weekend; Minions: The Rise of Gru with $26.8M in its third weekend, and an opening of $17.3M for Where the Crawdads Sing (NYSE:SONY). Hanging in at fourth, though, was Top Gun: Maverick (NASDAQ:PARA) (PARAA), drawing a healthy $12.3M in its eighth week of release.

At $625.6M cumulative, Top Gun: Maverick is No. 9 on the all-time domestic gross list, with 2015’s Jurassic World and 1997’s Titanic ahead of it at $653.4M and $659.4M respectively.

As always, counting all the cash registers are movie exhibitors: AMC Entertainment (AMC); Cineworld (OTCPK:CNNWF); Cinemark (CNK); (IMAX); Marcus (MCS); Reading International (RDI); Cineplex (OTCPK:CPXGF); National CineMedia (NCMI).

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By admin