Box Office: ‘Nope’ Makes Contact With Projected $44.5 Million Opening

Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is successfully sending a message to moviegoers: get out… and go to theater.

The Universal release is expected to net a $44.5 million opening this weekend from 3,785 theaters, marking Peele’s third consecutive film to debut at the top slot of the domestic box office.

The first indication that “Nope” might just be a summer box office hit came from its Thursday previews, which brought in a strong $6.4 million. Early projections saw the sci-fi horror film making $45 million to $60 million by the end of its opening weekend. The film is coming in a hair under those estimates.

“Nope” is projecting a debut a notch above Peele’s debut, 2017’s “Get Out,” which opened to $33.7 million, but a good deal lower than Peele’s previous film, 2019’s “Us,” which opened to $71.1 million. Both films wound up totaling about $255 million worldwide. To match that milestone, “Nope” will have to rely on solid word-of-mouth in the weeks ahead.

“Nope” carries a production budget of $68 million, a good deal higher than the $4.5 million and $20 million figures that “Get Out” and “Us” respectively possessed.

Even with the larger financial burden, “Nope” looks to make a decent profit. How the film’s word-of-mouth stands will be better inferred after its second weekend performance, though it isn’t all sunshine and lollipops. Research firm Cinema Score assigned a “B” grade to “Nope,” indicating a not entirely enthusiastic reaction from general moviegoers. Even so, a more middling Cinema Score grade isn’t uncommon for the horror genre.

Beyond that “Nope” remains a rather buzzy title, buoyed by strong support from critics. Peele’s film currently holds an 84% approval rating from top critics on the aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman was so-so on the film, writing that “Nope” “is a tantalizingly creepy mixed bag of a sci-fi thriller” in which “anticipation works better than the payoff.”

From Oscar-winning writer-director Peele, “Nope” stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in a story of horse-wrangler siblings who make an unsettling, out-of-this-world discovery.

Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” is falling to second on domestic charts. The superhero entry earned $6.12 million on Friday, marking a 56% drop from last week.

As is typical for Marvel Studios, “Love and Thunder” has been a box office force, grossing $260 million in North America so far. The film currently stands as the sixth-highest grossing domestic release of the year, still trending above the series’ previous entry, “Thor: Ragnarok,” which had earned $235 million by the same point in its theatrical run.

More to come…