Even weak critics reviews for “The Nun” couldn’t keep movie audiences away on a slow weekend at the box office. Box office analysts predicted a possible $36 million in domestic sales, but this latest “Conjuring” franchise addition topped all of them setting a new record.

Early September has become a fertile time for horror movies. Warner released “It” on the same weekend last year, and that movie arrived at $123.4 million in ticket sales, going on to gross more than $700 million worldwide.

The horror movie “The Nun” has topped the domestic box office in its first weekend, scoring a best for the “Conjuring” franchise and another win for Warner Bros.

Studio estimates on Sunday say the Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga-led film brought in $53.5 million from 3,876 North American theaters. Internationally, it banked $77.5 million for a massive $131 million global debut. The movie, a spinoff of a character seen in “The Conjuring 2” and set in 1952 Romania, cost only $22 million to produce.

Before “The Nun,” the largest opening in the “Conjuring” universe, which includes the “Annabelle” films, was “The Conjuring’s” $41.8 million launch.

“The subject in the title ‘The Nun,’ just gets a bigger broader audience,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.′ president of domestic distribution.

Opening weekend audiences were heavily Hispanic (35 percent), according to exit polls, and significantly higher than other films in the series. “The Conjuring,” for instance, attracted a 17 percent Hispanic audience.

This marks the fifth consecutive weekend that a Warner Bros. movie has held first place domestically, following in the successful footsteps of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Meg.” It’s also the fourth that the studio has held the first and second place spots which is the first time this has happened in the industry in over 25 years. The last time was in 1989 when Universal Pictures had “Sea of Love,” ″Uncle Buck” and “Parenthood.”

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“The calendar has 12 months and 52 weeks,” Goldstein said of the industry-leading streak. “We had gotten a fair amount of criticism for what our release schedule looked like in the summer, but I kept on saying it’s not about summer, it’s about the whole year.”

“The Nun” effectively scared “Crazy Rich Asians” into second place for the first time in its four-week run. The rom-com added $13.6 million, bringing its total North American earning to $136.2 million.

Third place went to the R-rated Jennifer Garner mother set on revenge movie “Peppermint,” from STXFilms, which debuted on par with expectations to $13.3 million. It was independently financed for nearly $25 million after taking tax incentives into account.

“‘Peppermint’ was a movie that was meant to give a completely different option to ‘The Nun,’” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore. “‘The Nun’ was just this overwhelming juggernaut.”

And holdovers rounded out the top five with “The Meg” in fourth with $6 million and “Searching” in fifth with $4.5 million.

Despite “The Nun’s” strong performance, the weekend is down nearly 30 percent from last year when “It” scored a record-breaking opening, but the year overall is still up 9.5 percent.

“Look out,” Dergarabedian said. “This could be the biggest box office year ever.”

The rest of the year also looks promising for Warner, which will roll out a hotly anticipated remake of “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga in October, the J.K. Rowling-written “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” in November and “Aquaman” in December.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

conjuring movies

  1. “The Nun,” $53.5 million ($77.5 million international).

2. “Crazy Rich Asians,” $13.6 million ($5.6 million international).

3. “Peppermint,” $13.3 million ($1.4 million international).

4. “The Meg,” $6 million ($11.3 million international).

5. “Searching,” $4.5 million ($7.5 million international).

6. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” $3.8 million ($38.6 million international).

7. “Christopher Robin,” $3.2 million ($2.5 million international).

8. “Operation Finale,” $3 million.

9. “BlacKkKlansman,“$2.6 million ($3.7 million international).

  1. “Alpha,” $2.5 million ($6.3 million international).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

  1. “The Nun,” $77.5 million.
  2. “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” $38.6 million.
  3. “The Meg,” $11.3 million.
  4. “Searching,” $7.5 million.
  5. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” $7 million.
  6. “The Equalizer 2,” $6.5 million.
  7. “Alpha,” $6.3 million.
  8. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” $5.9 million.
  9. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” $5.8 million.
  10. “Incredibles 2,” $5.7 million.

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