'Annabelle: Creation' scares up a box office win as the summer season winds down

Movie audiences said “hello” to a scary dolly this weekend.

The horror film “Annabelle: Creation” debuted as a winner, bringing in an estimated $35 million in its first weekend in the U.S. and Canada, above studio expectations of $25 million to $30 million and analysts’ expectations of $25 million.

“We’re absolutely thrilled and elated that audiences really embraced Annabelle,” said Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s distribution chief. “She is just one horrible doll.”

Directed by David F. Sandberg, the film, about a possessed doll that terrorizes families, is a prequel to 2014’s “Annabelle” — which opened to $37.1 million and was itself a prequel to 2013’s hit “The Conjuring,” which was based loosely on the stories of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Although the film received mostly positive reviews, it managed only a B rating on CinemaScore. .

Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” now in its fourth week, maintained its No. 2 standing after being dethroned by last week’s debut of “The Dark Tower.” The World War II drama brought in an additional $11.4 million over the weekend, for a cumulative total of $153.7 million domestically. Its 33% decline from last weekend was among the smallest in the top 10.

Newcomer “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” cracked the top three, bringing in $8.9 million, but its debut failed to impress, landing under analysts’ expectations of $12 million to $15 million. Open Road’s PG-rated animated sequel about chattering squirrels featuring the voices of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph performed well under the first “Nut Job,” which opened with $19 million and went on to earn $64 million domestically, making it Open Road’s highest-grossing film.

While Warner Bros. occupied the top two spots over the weekend, Sony held the fourth and fifth spots with “The Dark Tower” and “The Emoji Movie,” respectively.

Last week’s top-ranked “Dark Tower” was bumped to fourth place, bringing in an additional $7.8 million for a cumulative total of $34.3 million domestically. The film experienced a 59% decline from last weekend, the highest among the movies in the top 10. The picture, based on an eight-part Stephen King fantasy series, stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.

The animated comedy “The Emoji Movie” brought in $6.6 million for a cumulative total of $63.6 million. The film, about an app-filled world where emojis wait to be used in humans’ text messages, is now in its third week.

Among smaller releases, Lionsgate’s drama “The Glass Castle” brought in $4.9 million, on par with analysts’ expectations of $5 million, and debuted at No. 9. The film, based on the New York Times bestseller by Jeannette Walls and with an ensemble cast that includes Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts and Max Greenfield, recounts Walls’ upbringing in a nomadic, poverty-stricken family.

The Destin Daniel Cretton-directed film, which opened with a midsize release on about 1,400 screens, received a lackluster response from critics, earning 50% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In limited release, the Aubrey Plaza-led "Ingrid Goes West" brought in a solid $141,216 in three theaters, for a per-theater average of $47,072. The R-rated comedy, directed by Matt Spicer, stars Elizabeth Olsen as an Instagram-famous "influencer" whose perfectly curated lifestyle becomes the titular character's latest obsession.

The R-rated drama "Good Time," distributed by A24, premiered to strong results, earning $137,625 in just four locations for a per-screen average of $34,406. The film chronicles a twisted odyssey through New York City and stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Robert Pattinson.

Annapurna Pictures’ “Detroit,” now in its third week, saw a 58% drop-off from last weekend, and came in at No. 13. The film, which tells the true story of an incident that occurred during the Detroit uprising in 1967, has had trouble finding an audience despite positive reviews.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co.'s "Wind River" added 41 theaters for a total of 45 for its second weekend, earning $642,067 for a cumulative total of $870,825. The murder mystery, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan ("Sicario” and "Hell or High Water") stars Jeremy Renner, Olsen and Graham Greene and takes place on an Indian reservation in Wyoming.

This week’s wide releases are Lionsgate’s action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and “Logan Lucky,” Bleecker Street’s heist comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Channing Tatum and Daniel Craig. And IFC’s Sundance film festival award-winner “Crown Heights,” starring Lakeith Stanfield, opens in limited release.

sonaiya.kelley@latimes.com

follow me on twitter @sonaiyak

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