LOS ANGELES, April 21 (Variety.com) – Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters.
“La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as a reliable box office draw. Even so, “La Llorona” and other new releases “Breakthrough” and “Penguins” couldn’t salvage movie theaters from suffering the worst Easter weekend showing in almost 15 years. This weekend’s offerings amassed $112 million in ticket sales, the lowest haul since 2005, according to Comscore. The decline in sales is likely because the rest of Hollywood avoided opening a big movie ahead of Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which is expected to crush records when it debuts on April 26.
“La Llorona” also debuted in 71 international markets, where it collected $30 million for a global start of $56.5 million. The supernatural thriller, set in the “Conjuring” universe, cost $9 million to produce. The film is based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, a figure who lost her children and causes misfortune to those nearby. James Wan, known for his work on “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring,” and “Saw,” served as a producer.
Warner Bros. and New Line claimed the top two spots at the box office as last weekend’s champ “Shazam!” dropped to second place. The comic-book adventure added another $17 million in its third weekend of release, taking ticket sales to $121 million at the domestic market.
“Breakthrough,” a faith-based film about a parent’s unwavering love for their children, debuted at No. 3, generating $11 million over the weekend and $14 million during its first five days of release. That’s a solid start for “Breakthrough,” Disney’s first Fox release since the $71 billion merger, since the film cost $14 million to produce.
“Roxann Dawson, DeVon Franklin, and the Fox 2000 team have delivered a wonderfully crafted, deeply emotional film that we’re thrilled to see resonating with audiences,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of global distribution. “And with excellent reviews and word of mouth, we expect a healthy run ahead.”
Overseas, “Breakthrough” earned $5.9 million for a global start of $20.5 million. “Breakthrough” stars “This Is Us” actress Chrissy Metz as a mother who refuses to give up hope after her adopted son suffers a near-fatal fall through an icy lake. Roxann Dawson directed the movie, which was produced by DeVon Franklin (“Miracles from Heaven,” “Heaven Is for Real,”) and executive produced by NBA star Stephen Curry. Females accounted for 65 percent of the domestic opening weekend crowd for “Breakthrough,” while 70 percent of moviegoers were over the age of 25. Audiences embraced the film, giving it an A CinemaScore.
Disney also released “Penguins,” a documentary narrated by Ed Helms. It debuted below expectations, picking up $2.3 million from 1,815 venues and $3.3 million through its first five days in theaters.
In fourth place, Disney’s “Captain Marvel” pocketed $9 million in its seventh weekend in theaters. That bounty puts the female-fronted superhero movie past the $400 million mark in North America. “Captain Marvel” likely saw a bump in ticket sales in anticipation of “Avengers: Endgame.” “Captain Marvel” has now earned $1.09 billion, making it the eighth biggest superhero movie of all time.
Universal’s “Little” rounded out the top five with $8 million for a domestic tally of $29 million.
At the specialty box office, “Her Smell,” a musical drama starring Elisabeth Moss, continued its platform release. It picked up $68,736 when expanded to 24 theaters ($2,864 per screen), bringing its domestic total to $117,577.
Another musically-infused title, LD Entertainment and Bleecker Street’s “Teen Spirit,” picked up $250,536 when it expanded to 696 theaters, averaging a disappointing $360 per venue. The film, directed by Max Minghella and starring Elle Fanning, has grossed $305,356 to date.