For Warner Bros, the weekend release of The Curse of La Llorona brought good news and bad: the horror film topped all comers in North American theaters, but it did so on the worst weekend overall in years.
Curse, part of the fright-based Conjuring Universe film franchise, took in an estimated US$26.5 million (HK$206.7 million) for the three-day weekend, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said.
Curse stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz and Patricia Velasquez in the story of a mother in 1970s Los Angeles trying to protect her children from a ghost - a story loosely based on the Weeping Woman tale from Mexican folkore.
La Llorona is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as a reliable box office draw. Even so, La Llorona and other new releases Breakthrough and Penguins couldn't salvage movie theaters from suffering the worst Easter weekend showing in almost 15 years.
This weekend's offerings amassed US$112 million in ticket sales, the lowest haul since 2005. The decline in sales is likely because the rest of Hollywood avoided opening a big movie ahead of Disney and Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, which is expected to crush records when it debuts this week.
In second place this weekend was Warner Bros' lighthearted superhero tale Shazam! which took in US$17.3 million after topping the box office for two straight weeks. The comic-book adventure took ticket sales to US$121 million in the domestic market.
It stars Asher Angel as Billy Baston, an unhappy foster kid who becomes a muscular and witty superhero (Zachary Levi) when the secret word is pronounced.
Disney's new Breakthrough took in US$11.1 million, considered a solid start for a faith-based movie. It tells the story of a mother (Chrissy Metz) who refuses to abandon hope after her adopted son (Marcel Ruiz) falls into an icy lake and goes into a coma. NBA star Stephen Curry produced the film, his first such effort.
Disney's Captain Marvel placed fourth at US$9.1 million, up a surprising two spots despite being in its seventh week of release. The blockbuster, now well past the US$1 billion-mark worldwide, stars Brie Larson as a former fighter pilot who gains superpowers and is plunged into a galactic conflict.
And in fifth was Universal's Little, at US$8.5 million. The idea for the comedy - which has a grown-up (Regina Hall) trapped in a 13-year-old version of her own body (Marsai Martin of black-ish fame) - came from young Martin herself, who was inspired at age 10 when she saw the Tom Hanks hit Big, in which a child is trapped in his adult body.
Rounding out the weekend's top 10 were: Dumbo (US$6.8 million), Pet Sematary (US$4.9 million), Missing Link (US$4.4 million), Us (US$4.3 million) and Hellboy (US$3.9 million).