Jordan Peele’s UFO thriller “No” topped the North American charts in its opening weekend in theaters with an estimated $44 million in ticket sales, Universal Pictures said Sunday. While it doesn’t come close to the $71 million debut of “Us,” it’s still significantly impressive for an original R-rated film — and the biggest of the original script pandemic.
No, which opened in 3,785 theaters in the US and Canada, is Peele’s most expensive film to date with a budget of $68 million, excluding marketing and promotion costs. “Us” cost about $20 million to produce, while “Get Out” was made for just $4.5 million. Both films ended up making over $255 million worldwide.
Critics have been largely positive about No, which stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Stephen Yeon and pays homage to UFO films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Signs, and currently rests at 83 % by Rotten Tomatoes.
“That’s a great number,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “It’s amazing how widely played it is, too.”
“Jordan Peele has created an incredible film,” Orr added. “And it’s absolutely a must-see on the big screen.”
The film got off to a strong start with $6.4 million from Thursday previews. By the end of Friday, it had raised $19.3 million. About 68% of the opening weekend audience was between the ages of 18 and 34, which is the “sweet spot” for a horror film. The audience was also quite diverse according to exit polls, reporting 35% Caucasian, 33% Black, 20% Hispanic and 8% Asian.
And many chose to experience No in IMAX, which accounted for about $5.2 million in its opening weekend.
“It’s extremely gratifying to see a visionary like Jordan Peele, who represents a new generation of filmmakers, use our technology in pioneering ways and create an experience meant to be seen in IMAX,” said IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond.
Word of mouth will be crucial in the coming weeks for No, which begins its international distribution on August 12.
“Opening weekend for a Jordan Peele movie is not the right metric. We should see where it is in a month,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “’No’ can have solid, long-term play when it gets around. One only has to look at ‘Elvis’ to see that a film doesn’t need to have a huge opening to be a big success.”
“No” pushed “Thor: Love and Thunder” to second place in its third weekend. The Disney-Marvel blockbuster starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman added $22.1 million for a worldwide cume of $598.2 million.
Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” came in third with $17.7 million in its fourth weekend. The animated pic earned $640.3 million worldwide.
Sony’s adaptation of the bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing, meanwhile, enjoyed a modest second-weekend drop. The film, starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, added an estimated $10.3 million from 3,650 locations. It has now grossed $38.3 million domestically.
Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” rounded out the top five in its ninth weekend with an additional $10 million. Earlier this week, it surpassed The Avengers to become the ninth-biggest domestic release of all time, with its total now standing at $635.6 million.
In limited release, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” continued its expansion and made $846,950 from 590 theaters.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore.
1. “No,” $44 million.
2. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” 22.1 million.
3. “Minions: Rise of Gru,” $17.7 million.
4. “Where the Crawdads Sing,” $10.3 million.
5. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $10 million.
6. “Elvis,” $6.3 million.
7. “Claws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” $3.9 million.
8. “The Black Phone,” $3.5 million.
9. “Jurassic World Dominion,” $3 million.
10. “Ms. Harris Goes to Paris,” $1.4 million.