Box Office: ‘No’ raking in $44.5 million on opening weekend

Jordan Peele’s “Nope” successfully sends a message to moviegoers: Get out…and go to the movies.

Universal’s release is expected to earn a $44.5 million opening this weekend in 3,785 theaters, marking Peele’s third straight film to debut atop the domestic box office.

The first indication that “No” might just be a summer box office hit came from its Thursday previews, which grossed $6.4 million. Early screenings saw the sci-fi horror flick earn between $45 million and $60 million by the end of its opening weekend. The movie comes in a hair under those estimates.

“Nope” projects a debut a notch above Peele’s debut film, 2017’s “Get Out,” which opened to $33.7 million, but far below Peele’s second effort, 2019’s “Us,” which opened at $71.1 million. Both films have grossed around $255 million worldwide. To achieve this milestone, “No” will need to rely on strong word-of-mouth in the coming weeks.

“Nope” carries a production budget of $68 million, well above the $4.5 million and $20 million figures that “Get Out” and “Us” possessed respectively.

Even with the greater financial burden, “No” seeks to make a decent profit. The film’s word-of-mouth will be best deduced after its second weekend performance, though it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. Research firm Cinema Score gave “No” a “B” grade, indicating a not-quite-enthusiastic reaction from moviegoers in general. Even so, a more average Cinema Score is not uncommon for the horror genre.

Beyond that, “Nope” remains a rather buzzy title, driven by strong critical support. Peele’s film currently holds an 84% approval rating from top critics on global site Rotten Tomatoes. VarietyOwen Gleiberman was so over the film, writing that “No” “is a terrifically chilling mixed bag of a sci-fi thriller” in which “anticipation works better than payoff.”

From Oscar-winning writer-director Peele, “Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in a story of horse siblings who make a disturbing, out-of-this-world discovery.

Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” drops to second place on the national charts. The superhero entry grossed $6.12 million on Friday, marking a 56% drop from last week.

As is typical for Marvel Studios, “Love and Thunder” has been a box office force, grossing $260 million in North America so far. The film is currently the sixth-highest-grossing domestic release of the year, still above the series’ previous entry, “Thor: Ragnarok,” which grossed $235 million at the same time of its theatrical release.

Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” appears to take third place, projecting a slim 37% drop in its fourth weekend of release. The animated prequel is set to gross $16.8 million this weekend and is expected to push its domestic haul past $300 million over the coming week.

“The Rise of Gru” is the fifth highest-grossing domestic release of the year. The film’s 2015 predecessor, “Minions,” ended its North American run with $336 million in the bank.

Sony’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” shoots for either fourth or fifth place, projecting a haul of $9.75 million in its second weekend. That would mark a modest 43% drop from when the adaptation opened last weekend, showing that word of mouth around the Daisy Edgar-Jones star is in place.

Rounding out the top five on the national charts, Paramount and Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick” refuses to back down. In its ninth weekend of release, the Tom Cruise sequel is expected to drop 23%, adding $9.45 million to its domestic haul.

“Maverick” overtook “The Avengers” earlier this week to become the ninth highest-grossing domestic release of all time. With $628 million in the bank, Paramount’s release would have a ways to go to reach No. 8, held by ‘Jurassic World’ at $652 million. Then again, “Maverick” has only exceeded expectations so far.

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