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Horror Sequel ‘Annabelle: Creation’ Scares Up Top Spot at Box Office

Warner Bros. scarer surprises with $35 million in debut, but summer still a horror for Hollywood.

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There were enough movie-goers possessed to see Annabelle: Creation, the fourth installment in the Conjuring horror franchise, to win the weekend box office crown. But Hollywood execs will continue to have nightmares over a hugely disappointing summer.

New Line’s prequel about a possessed doll, which cost just $15 million to make, earned a strong $35 million in its debut weekend. Horror, with its lower production costs, lack of a need of stars in the credits and loyal audiences, tends to be the most cost-effective genre in film.

The win compounded a solid three days for parent studio Warner Bros., which saw its World War II drama, Dunkirk, finish second in its fourth weekend with $11.4 million. The Christopher Nolan-directed war drama crossed the $150 million mark in North America.

But the news wasn’t as good for the rest of the film industry.

“It was a great weekend for horror fans, for Annabelle: Creation and for Warner Bros., but not so much for the industry as a whole,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst at ComScore, told RealClearLife. “The movie’s individual success didn’t stem the tide of the downturn, but at this point, we’ll take any good news we can get.”

That’s because the summer’s box office is down 12.4 percent compared to last year at this time, according to ComScore.

Open Road’s animated sequel, Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, opened in third place with a disappointing $8.9 million.

“We have to be patient and wait for the calvary to save this year,” said Dergarabedian. “Ironically, it may be another horror movie, It, that reverses this downward trend.”

The film adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, another Warner Bros. entry, opens on September 8.