Nun II narrowly outscares Haunting in N America cinemas

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Warner Bros thriller The Nun II kept a narrow lead on a mostly spiritless North American weekend with an estimated take of US$14.7 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

This ninth chapter in The Conjuring series, a gothic tale of spiritual possessions featuring a demonic, red-eyed goat, stars Taissa Farmiga, Belgian actor Jonas Bloquet and Storm Reid.

Twentieth Century's A Haunting in Venice, the latest Kenneth Branagh take on an Agatha Christie mystery, had an estimated US$14.5 million in ticket sales. (Since it trailed Nun by only US$200,000, the ultimate weekend winner may be decided only on Monday.)

With Branagh both directing and making his latest big-moustached role as Belgian flatfoot Hercules Poirot, the movie took in an estimated US$14.5 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.

"This is a lukewarm domestic opening" for the genre, said analyst David A Gross, while adding that with a US$60 million budget, "The movie isn't going to lose money after it finishes playing in the foreign markets."

The film has a sceptical Poirot being lured out of retirement to attend a seance where — not-much-of-a-spoiler alert! — someone is murdered. Tina Fey and Michelle Yeoh also star.

The weekend's third top moneymaker, at US$7.2 million, was Sony's The Equalizer 3 starring Denzel Washington in his latest portrayal of a retired US Marine and drug-enforcement agent taking on an endless stream of bad guys.

In fourth spot was another sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, from Focus Features and Universal Pictures. It earned an estimated US$4.7 million. Nia Vardalos, again playing the central character, directs.

And heroically hanging on in fifth spot in its ninth weekend out was Warner Bros' Barbie. The Greta Gerwig film had ticket sales of US$3.9 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

Jawan (US$2.5 million)

Blue Beetle (US$2.5 million)

Gran Turismo (US$2.4 million)

Oppenheimer (US$2.1 million)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Mutant Mayhem (US$2 million).

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