Jordan Peele’s “Nope” grossed a solid $6.4 million in Thursday previews as it looks to be the rare blockbuster with a brain to succeed at the summer box office. The plot of the science-fiction horror film has been shrouded in mystery, but reviewers have likened “Nope’s” supernatural elements to Steven Spielberg classics such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The Universal release is expected to top the domestic box office, but estimates vary about what it will ultimately rack up, ranging from predictions of a debut of $45 million to something in the $60 million neighborhood. Based on the Thursday results, “Nope’s” final tally should be on the higher end of expectations.
“Nope” offers Peele, an Oscar-winner for “Get Out,” a chance to work on a broader canvas. The film cost $68 million, a significant increase from the $4.5 million it cost to bring “Get Out” to the screen or the $20 million it took to make “Us,” the director’s 2019 follow-up. “Get Out” earned $1.8 million in previews, ultimately grossing $33.4 million in its inaugural weekend. “Us” picked up $7.4 million in previews, going on to net $71.1 million at the box office in its first weekend.
“Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in the story of siblings who live on a gulch in California, where they make a chilling discovery. Most critics like what Peele is conjuring up with his third feature, handing the film an 81% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman was more mixed on the film than the critical consensus, writing that in “Nope” “…the anticipation works better than the payoff.”
Theater owners need “Nope” to be embraced by the general public. The summer movie season is starting to wind down and there are only a few potential blockbusters such as Brad Pitt’s “Bullet Train” and “DC League of Super-Pets” left to premiere in the coming weeks. After that it’s an awfully long slog until “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” debuts in theaters in November.