“Annabelle: Creation,” directed by David F. Sandberg (“Lights Out,” another recent New Line horror hit), is a prequel. Warner backed it with a full-frills advertising campaign — billboards, stunts designed stir up online chatter — that combined to hammer home one message: This was a quality movie, not just some throwaway possessed-doll schlock dumped in the doldrums of summer. Based on its opening performance, “Annabelle: Creation” will easily push the “Conjuring” series past $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
New Line, which declined to make its leaders, Richard Brener and Carolyn Blackwood, available for an interview, next will expand this series with “The Nun,” a movie based on a character from “The Conjuring 2” and scheduled for release next summer.
And the revitalized New Line horror machine may well strike gold again on Sept. 8 with a new adaptation of “It,” Stephen King’s novel about a demon who poses as Pennywise, a child-killing clown. The first trailer for “It” broke online viewing records when it was released in March.
For the weekend, “Dunkirk” (Warner) chugged away in second place, taking in about $11.4 million, for a four-week total of $153.7 million, according to comScore. “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” (Open Road) was third, selling roughly $8.9 million in tickets, a 54 percent decline from initial results for its 2014 predecessor.
Also of note: “The Glass Castle” (Lionsgate), an adaptation of Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir, took in $4.9 million, for a paltry ninth-place arrival. Lionsgate must now hope that light competition in the weeks ahead allows “The Glass Castle” to gain traction among its target audience of older women. “Ricki and the Flash,” for instance, arrived to $6.6 million in August 2015 and wobbled to $26.8 million in domestic ticket sales in total.
An earlier version of this article misstated the surname of one of the heads of New Line Cinema. He is Richard Brener, not Brenner.