Up until the last few years, September has not historically been a big month at the box office. It’s the bridge between the summer box-office season and Oscar season, when students go back to school and studios release older-skewing films like Johnny Depp’s Black Mass or Scully or Ben Affleck’s The Town or Flightplan or even action pics aimed at older audiences, like the R-Rated The Kingsman: Golden Circle. However, that changed completely last year when — on this same September weekend — New Line Cinema dropped a little film called It, which commanded a $123 million opening weekend, shattering the September opening weekend box office record previously held by Hotel Transylvania‘s $48 million opening in 2015.
New Line Cinema returned again this weekend with The Nun, the fifth film in The Conjuring series and, unbelievably, the one with the biggest opening weekend. It easily bested The Conjuring ($40 million) and The Conjuring 2 ($41 million), which both opened during the summer.
These films are also proving to be fairly critic-proof. While the first two Conjuring films were well received, right along with the second Annabelle film, Creation, The Nun (28 percent) scored slightly lower than Annabelle (29 percent). However, both films put up solid numbers, although The Nun‘s massive $54 million opening is considerably better than the $37 million opening of Annabelle. More interesting still is that not even audiences really cared for The Nun, giving it a C Cinemascore, which is low even for a horror flick. Apparently, it matters not. Once September rolls around, audiences are clearly starving for scares, and this one succeeded almost exclusively on its great marketing campaign (even if it did upset some people), more than doubling its production budget ($22 million) on its opening weekend.