By Pamela McClintock
A scene from "The Conjuring"
UPDATED: The low-budget horror pic has a shot at beating "R.I.P.D." and "Red 2" for the weekend; elsewhere on Thursday, "Despicable Me 2" crosses the $500 million mark worldwide and beats "Turbo" for the day.
The Conjuring, from horror maestro James Wan, scared up a stellar $3.3 million as it rolled out in theaters Thursday night.
The New Line and Warner Bros. film only cost $20 million to produce, and stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators who help a family terrorized by a dark force. Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor also star.
The Conjuring has a good shot at grossing north of $20 million for the weekend and beating Universal's troubled Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds action-comedy R.I.P.D., which cost $130 million to produce, and Summit's Red 2, which cost at least $84 million to make. The Conjuring and new animation entry Turbo, which opened Wednesday, could reach $25 million.
R.I.P.D. took in an anemic $773,000 in Thursday night grosses; numbers weren't immediately available for Red 2.
Universal can certainly withstand a box office disappointment, considering its otherwise outstanding summer. Fast & Furious 6 has earned $704.4 million worldwide, while Despicable Me 2 shows no signs of slowing down as it races past the $500 million mark worldwide.
On Thursday, Despicable 2 crossed the $250 million mark domestically as it grossed $5 million, enough to edge out Turbo, from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox. Turbo, on track for one of DWA's lower openings as it battles an overcrowded marketplace for family fare, took in $4.3 million for a two-day cume of $9.9 million.
Fox is counting on Turbo to have strong legs, noting that it received a glowing A CinemaScore and an A+ from moviegoers under age 18.
Turbo, which cost $135 million to produce and was directed by David Soren, is about an ordinary garden snail whose dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500 comes true. Ryan Reynolds voices the title role; Paul Giamatti, Snoop Dogg, Michael Pena, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez and Samuel L. Jackson also lend their voices. DWA is playing up the fact that Turbo is an original story.
Box-office observers believe Turbo could suffer from animation fatigue, considering it opens only two weeks after Despicable 2 and four weeks after Disney and Pixar's Monsters University, both of which have the advantage of being sequels.
Pre-release tracking has been notably soft for R.I.P.D., and it may have a tough time hitting $20 million in its debut. Red 2 should do slightly better.
R.I.P.D., directed by Robert Schwentke and based on the comic book Rest in Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, stars Reynolds and Bridges as deceased police officers who must protect the living from evil spirits who refuse to move on. The movie, drawing comparisons to Men in Black, also stars Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker (who appears in Red 2 as well).
Red 2 opens three years after the original film became a box-office sensation among older adults, who were drawn to the A-list cast that includes Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. They all return, while Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones join the crew of special operatives.
Schwentke directed the 2010 Red, which debuted to $21.8 million domestically on its way to grossing nearly $200 million worldwide; Dean Parisot is in the director's chair this time. Summit took a gamble in opening the sequel in the heart of summer, considering Red debuted in October.