Jordan Peele’s Us had the biggest opening weekend of any original horror film in history
Peele’s much-anticipated follow-up to Get Out nearly doubled projections for its domestic opening weekend.
Anticipation for Us, Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his 2017 smash hit Get Out, was extraordinarily high heading into its opening weekend. And the movie now has receipts to show for it.
Bolstered by stellar buzz from its SXSW premiere and strong critical reviews, Us raked in enough money in its first weekend to make it the largest domestic opening weekend ever for an original horror film (that is, it’s not a sequel, a reboot, or based on another existing property). It topped $70 million domestically, beating the previous record holder, last year’s A Quiet Place.
The film also garnered the biggest domestic opening weekend for an original R-rated film, beating the previous record holder, Ted, which opened to $54 million in 2012. And it had the second-highest opening for a live-action original film, after Avatar in 2009, which came in just over $77 million.
Us even came close to surpassing last year’s other huge horror hit, the 11th entry in the Halloween franchise, which brought in $76 million domestically on its opening weekend. It also opened in 47 territories abroad, bringing in $16.7 million internationally for a worldwide total of nearly $87 million — all on a relatively modest $20 million production budget.
In addition to massive anticipation, Us benefited from opening in nearly 1,000 more theaters than Get Out, which brought in $33 million domestically in its opening weekend. Get Out ended its theatrical run with $176 million in the US, and later netted four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture; Peele won for Best Original Screenplay.
Projections for Us had set the film’s expectations between $38 million and $45 million domestically, with some adjusting their projections upward after the film earned a huge $7.3 million in Thursday previews, nearly matching Halloween’s $7.7 million. The movie almost doubled those expectations, leading some commentators to suggest that the film suffered from a long-running tendency among box office prognosticators to underestimate returns for films with predominantly black casts.
That phenomenon is related to the outdated Hollywood notion that “black films don’t travel,” i.e., that films starring predominantly black casts don’t perform well outside the US. Over the past few years, the huge success both in the US and abroad of movies ranging from blockbusters like Black Panther to more specialized movies such as Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Straight Outta Compton, and Sorry to Bother You — not to mention Get Out — has repeatedly dispelled that myth, but Hollywood learns slowly.