‘Conjuring’ tops box office as people return to theaters post-pandemic

It was a scary good weekend for horror sequels at the box office as movie-goers return to theaters while COVID-19 pandemic restrictions subside.

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” took the top spot for the week with a $24 million haul, ousting last week’s leader “A Quiet Place Part II,” which took in $20 million this week and $88.6 million over two weeks, according to Comscore.

Disney’s “Cruella” was third with $11.2 million domestically and “Spirit Untamed” took in $6.2 million for the fourth spot in its opening weekend. “Cruella” has had $43.6 million in total domestically, Comcast said.

“Raya and the Last Dragon,” another Disney film, was fifth for the week with $1.3 million, and $53.5 million since its opening.

The third installment of “The Conjuring” – and the first not directed by James Wan – reportedly had the biggest opening of an R-rated movie in the pandemic era. After a strong Memorial Day weekend and several big name movies being released, the industry is hoping its in the midst of a post-pandemic rebound.

The movie industry was ravaged by the pandemic restrictions and major studios grew gun shy about releasing moves during the height of the coronavirus shutdown last year.

Even as restrictions have eased, studios have opted to release movies simultaneously onto big screens and on streaming platforms. That was the case with the latest “Conjuring,” which was available on HBO Max over the weekend.

As of last weekend, there were 4,332 theaters open in North America or 75 percent of the number compared to the same time in 2019, Comcast said. At the start of the year, that number was only 2,227 or 41 percent.

Many theaters have also dropped face mask requirements for full-vaccinated theatergoers.