20th Century Studios’ new entry A Haunting in Venice — the third installment in Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie-inspired movie series — is in a close race with New Line Cinema’s holdover The Nun II for the box office weekend crown.
Based on Friday business, both films are looking at a gross in the $13.5 million to $14.5 million range. Most rival studios show A Haunting prevailing.
While A Haunting in Venice is opening in line with expectations, it’s still a muted start for the movie and isn’t far ahead of the last film in the series, Death on the Nile, which opened to $12.8 million in February 2022, when the box office was still in recovery mode. The sequel was among the many films delayed because of COVID-19; it also had to contend with negative publicity surrounding star Armie Hammer (he doesn’t appear in the new film). That film’s ensemble cast also included Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright. Death on the Nile topped out at a subdued $137.3 million globally.
20th Century, a division of Disney, kept the budget of A Haunting at $60 million to $70 million for the last one.
In 2017, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express turned into a sleeper hit after opening to $28.6 million domestically on its way to earning more than $350 million worldwide. (The first film’s ensemble cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp.) All three received a B CinemaScore, although A Haunting has notably better reviews.
In addition to directing, Branagh reprises his role as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot in A Haunting in Venice. The ensemble cast also includes Camille Cottin, Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Kyle Allen and Riccardo Scamarcio. Similar to other recent movies, Branagh’s film had to make its final publicity push without the help of its cast because of the ongoing actors strike.
Elsewhere, Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, about the 2021 GameStop stock phenomenon fueled by individual investors driven by social media, opens in six locations this weekend. Sony had intended to roll out the film nationwide on Sept. 22 but decided to go more slowly because of the strike and the inability of actors to promote the film.
Dumb Money stars Paul Dano and Pete Davidson. America Ferrera, Seth Rogen, Shailene Woodley and Anthony Ramos co-star in the film, which made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s on course for an opening per location screen average of $28,806.
Overall, moviegoing is slowing down after the summer rush. One fun tidbit: Greta Gewrig’s Barbie remains in the top 5 as it approaches the $630 mark domestically.
And Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is set to finish the weekend with a global total of $912 million to become the top-grossing biopic ever at the box office ahead of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Numbers will be updated Sunday morning.