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The Conjuring hits $41.5 million in US as R.I.P.D is DOA

The Conjuring

Story by Jack Foley

LOW budget horror film The Conjuring has hit the US jackpot by opening to massive business at the box office.

The James Wan directed chiller, which cost $20 million to make, hit $41.5 million in its opening weekend, easily beating much bigger tentpole releases in the process.

Of those, Ryan Reynolds/Jeff Bridges supernatural actioner R.I.P.D bombed, limping to seventh place with $12.8 million despite costing at least $130 million to produce.

Two further bigger budget releases also struggled. Animated family adventure Turbo (which also features Ryan Reynolds) and Red 2 also under-performed.

Turbogrossed $21.5 million for the weekend to come in third (it has taken $31.2 million since opening on Wednesday), one place behind Despicable Me 2, which held onto second spot with $25.1 million for a domestic total of $276.1 million.

But while Despicable Me 2 remains an animated juggernaut and a big, big crowd-pleaser, the biggest victor of the weekend was undoubtedly The Conjuring.

The film, based on a true story, stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators who help a family terrorized by a dark force.

Commenting on its success, Warner Bros executive vice president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said: “It show that fresh material attracts audiences in a big way. The real-life aspect makes it look cool and the movie scares the stuffing out of you.”

At the other end of the scale, R.I.P.D‘s failure had been anticipated long before its opening weekend, prompting Universal to scale back its marketing spend. Coupled with the fact that the distributor has enjoyed a lucrative summer up to this point, with Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6, it can withstand the loss.

The film, directed by Robert Schwentke, finds Reynolds and Bridges playing deceased police officers who must protect the living from evil spirits who refuse to move on. It is described as a mix between Men in Black and Ghostbusters.

Turbo‘s under-performance is a little more undeserved. The film is great fun. But it opened in a crowded marketplace for animation and isn’t based on an existing franchise.

It marks one of the lowest domestic openings for a DreamWorks Animation title and came in just behind the $32.3 million earned by box office miss Rise of the Guardians in its five-day debut last November.

Red 2, meanwhile, opened in fifth spot with $18.4, which was not enough to match the $21.7 million opening of its predecessor in 2010. Its distributor, Summit had taken what was perceived as a major gamble in moving the sequel to the summer, having launched the first Red in October. And it now seems the battle is on for the film to recoup its $84 million production budget.

Red 2 features the continued adventures of a group of ageing spies, whose impressive cast includes Bruce Willis, Dame Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Elsewhere at the US box office the news was little better for holdover titles that have already struggled. The Lone Ranger continued to struggle, as did last week’s disappointment, Pacific Rim which fell by over 50% to hit $16 million and a domestic total of $68.2 million.

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