Box office: Jordan Peele’s “Nope” debuts at No. 1

Jordan Peele’s UFO thriller Nope topped the North American charts in its first theatrical weekend with estimated box office sales of $44 million, Universal Pictures said Sunday. While it doesn’t come close to the $71 million debut of “Us,” it’s still very impressive for an R-rated original film — and the biggest of the pandemic for an original screenplay.

Nope, which opened in 3,785 theaters across the US and Canada, is the most expensive film Peele has made to date, with a reported production budget of $68 million, not counting marketing and advertising costs. Us cost around $20 million to produce, while Get Out cost just $4.5 million. Both films ultimately grossed over $255 million worldwide.

Critics were largely positive about Nope, which stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun and pays homage to UFO films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs, and is currently 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes lies .

“That’s a great number,” said Jim Orr, president of domestic sales at Universal. “It’s amazing how wide it plays.”

“Jordan Peele created an incredible film,” added Orr. “And it’s absolutely something to see on the big screen.”

The film got off to a strong start with $6.4 million from Thursday’s previews. By the end of Friday, it had grossed $19.3 million. About 68 percent of viewers on opening weekend were between the ages of 18 and 34, which is the “sweet spot” for a horror film. The audience, too, was quite diverse, according to Exit polls, consisting of 35 percent Caucasian, 33 percent Black, 20 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent Asian.

And many chose to catch “Nope” at IMAX, which accounted for about $5.2 million of its first weekend earnings.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to see a visionary like Jordan Peele, who represents a new generation of filmmakers, leverage our technology in groundbreaking ways and create an experience to be seen at IMAX,” said Rich Gelfond, CEO of IMAX.

Word of mouth will be vital in the coming weeks for Nope, which begins its international rollout on August 12th.

“An opening weekend for a Jordan Peele film is not the right yardstick. We’ll have to see where it is in a month,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore’s senior media analyst. “‘Nope’ could have solid long-term playability if word gets around. You only have to watch ‘Elvis’ to see that a film doesn’t have to start out big to be a big hit.”

“Nope” edged out “Thor: Love and Thunder” to second place on its third weekend. The Disney and Marvel blockbuster starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman added $22.1 million, bringing its total to $598.2 million.

Universal’s Minions: The Rise of Gru came in third in its fourth weekend with $17.7 million. The animated image has grossed $640.3 million worldwide.

The Sony-released adaptation of best-selling Where the Crawdads Sing, meanwhile, enjoys a modest dip for its second weekend. Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, the film added an estimated $10.3 million from 3,650 locations. It has now grossed $38.3 million domestically.

Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick completed the top five in its ninth weekend with an additional $10 million. Earlier this week, it overtook The Avengers to become the ninth-biggest domestic release of all time, now grossing $635.6 million.

As a limited release, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” continued to expand, grossing $846,950 in 590 theaters.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday in US and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. The final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1. “No,” $44 million.

2. “Thor: Love and Thunder”, 22.1 million.

3. “Minions: The Rise of Gru”, $17.7 million.

4. “Where the Crawdads Sing”, $10.3 million.

5. “Top Gun: Maverick”, $10 million.

6. “Elvis”, $6.3 million.

7. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, $3.9 million.

8. “The Black Telephone”, $3.5 million.

9. “Jurassic World Dominion”, $3 million.

10. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”, $1.4 million.

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