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You can look at tracking, pre-sales and comparable film openings to give you an idea of how well a movie will open, and those are valuable tools, but ultimately that’s all just speculation and educated guesswork. It’s only once a film is actually open that you get a real sense of just how well it will do. And after Jordan Peele’s Us broke records when it opened in theaters on Thursday night, it is looking like the horror flick will do pretty well.
Us earned a stellar $7.4 million in preview screenings Thursday night. That’s phenomenal for an R-rated movie and puts Us behind only Paranormal Activity 3, It and last year’s Halloween for biggest Thursday preview gross for an R-rated filmm according to Forbes. Those other three titles ahead of it are obviously established horror brands. That means that Us now has the record for Thursday preview performance for R-rated films that aren’t sequels or based on some existing property.
More than just being great for an R-rated film, Us looks like it may have the biggest Thursday preview gross for a wholly original movie, surpassing The Secret Life of Pets’ $5.3 million. This is quite the jump for Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort, blowing well past the $1.8 million Get Out opened to in 2017. So now that the first receipts have come in, how high does it look like Us will go this weekend?
Playing at 3,741 North American locations, Us is now projected to slay the competition and murder expectations with a $68 million opening weekend, according to Deadline. This comes after a Friday box office of an estimated $28+ million. This positions Us to maybe double Get Out’s $33.4 million opening weekend. It will also blow away the earlier tracking on Us, which ranged anywhere from as low as $35 million to as high as $48-$50 million.
It is looking good that Us will even beat last year’s A Quiet Place, which also surpassed expectations with a noisy $50.2 million. If that happens, it would give Us the best opening ever for an original horror movie. If Us goes past Ted’s $54.4 million, it would have the best opening ever for an original R-rated movie. Us is also looking like it will snag the biggest original live-action March opening, in addition to being the biggest opening of the year after Captain Marvel.
It will be interesting to see where Us ultimately lands and how the box office fluctuates over the weekend. Jordan Peele’s film entered the weekend with a lot going for it, including excellent reviews, a great Rotten Tomatoes score, and the ability to say "From the director who brought you Get Out." Yet, Us might not be quite the crowd-pleaser as Peele’s debut, with a "B" CinemaScore versus Get Out’s “A-.”
That isn’t bad by any stretch, and it’s a far cry from Hereditary’s “D+” but it could indicate some dissatisfaction with the ending. So we’ll have to see if that has any effect on word of mouth. I suppose a polarizing ending could drive more people to see the film to be part of the conversation, or as Winston Duke has recommended, repeat viewings.
If nothing else, hopefully the performance of Us reiterates that original movies from bold filmmakers have a place in the marketplace and can perform.