Universal’s Us, the second directorial effort from Jordan Peele, pulled off a stunning debut, generating $70 million from 3,741 North American locations.
That haul is enough to land it the second-best opening weekend of the year behind just Disney’s Captain Marvel ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by a band of doppelgangers nearly doubled projections, which estimated a three-day total in the $38 million to $45 million range.
Us now has the largest weekend for original horror movie, surpassing A Quiet Place, as well as the biggest launch for an original R-rated film behind Ted. It also shattered the benchmark set by Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, which launched with $33 million in 2017.
Overseas, Us launched with $16.7 million from 47 international territories for a global start of $86.95 million.
“Put simply, Jordan Peele is a genius,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “He’s managed to tap into something that the domestic box office can’t get enough of. People can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Universal and Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions produced Us for $20 million. Since its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival, Us has built up word of mouth. It has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, rare praise for the horror genre and a testament to Peele’s ability to deliver scares that also encourage audiences to think. It stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a couple forced to fend off blood-thirsty clones while vacationing with their kids.
Though the domestic box office has been struggling to match 2018’s record pace, it’s been a good year for Universal so far. The studio now boasts the second, third, and fourth-best opening weekends of 2019 with Us, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($55 million), and Glass ($40 million), respectively.
With the better-than-expected debut of Us, ticket sales at domestic box office are pacing over 15% ahead of the same frame in 2018, when Pacific Rim Uprising was the No 1 film in North America.
As a whole, revenues are still behind 17% compared to last year, according to Comscore. That margin is shrinking, however, thanks to the success of Captain Marvel and now Us.
While Us catered to moviegoers looking for a good fright, Captain Marvel was doing some terrifying business of its own during the superhero blockbuster’s third weekend of release. The female-fronted tentpole added another $35 million, taking its domestic tally past $320 million.
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