Jordan Peele’s latest horror film “No” has received strong reviews, but it remains to be seen if it will be a box office success. Peel’s debut feature film, Away, was a huge success both critically and commercially and helped launch a wave of artistic, uplifting horror films. His second film as a director, “We”, was somewhat more ambiguously received, but had the same big box office success. The topic of how to evaluate the first weekend of Nope has become a subject of controversy, and well-known publications such as Forbes and Variety, after its initial release, spoke on opposite sides of the argument.
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Keith David as a family that trains horses for use in Hollywood productions. After a series of accidents, the characters of Kaluuya and Palmer see a UFO and try to document its existence. Knope’s stellar cast also includes Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott, and he received generally positive reviews, with critics praising Peel’s direction and a wide range of first-class roles in the film.
In the first weekend, “No” was the number 1 film at the box office, beating “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” in the third and fourth weeks, respectively. Topping the chart is impressive in itself for an R-rated horror film not based on existing intellectual property at the height of the summer movie season. But it’s too early to declare Nope a box office success.
How much does it cost to make a Nope and how much box office has it made
One of the most important indicators of success in Hollywood is how much money a movie earns relative to its budget. A film that costs more than it brings in is a loss for the studio, and recent examples include commercial flops such as “Nightmare Alley.” However, films also have to reimburse marketing costs, and cinemas and distributors usually receive 45-50% of revenue. For these reasons, it is generally assumed that a film must earn about 2.5 times its budget in order to be profitable, although everything is further complicated by streaming and television revenues, which are less transparent to the public.
Based on these revenue calculations, Nope still has a long way to go. The budget of the film was $68 million, and it was shot in the Agua Dulce desert. This is the biggest budget Peel has worked with, after $20 million for us and just $4.5 million for Get Out. Nope also had an extensive cryptic marketing campaign by Universal Studios.
As a result, “No” is a more ambitious film, leaving the viewer with a lot of questions and riddles without answers. In the first weekend, Nope earned $44 million, of which $19.5 million came on the opening day alone. This is significantly less than US, which earned $71.1 million in the first weekend, which was the second best opening for an original film with live actors after Avatar. However, it surpasses the premiere weekend of Get Out, which opened with $33.4 million, making it unclear how successful Nope will be at the end.
Nope box office disappoints? Everything is complicated
To surpass first weekend expectations and earn $44 million is an achievement in itself for Nope, especially for an R—rated horror film in an era when adult films are usually struggling at the box office. But Universal, which has signed a five-film deal with Peel’s Monkey Paw Productions, can expect more from Nope. Both “Away” and “We” earned about $250 million, and based on the “No” budget, Universal may have expected the same amount from Jordan Peele’s next films. However, No would have to have extraordinary stamina at the box office to reach that amount.
However, comparing the 2022 film with the 2010s film may be unfair, given the overall decline in box office receipts after the COVID-19 pandemic. The best point of comparison may be other author horror films released this year. Scott Derrickson’s “Black Phone,” also released by Universal, became the most successful film in this category and showed remarkable success, earning $130 million after the first weekend totaled only $23.8 million, which may be encouraging news for Nope. By contrast, Alex Garland’s “The People” and Robert Eggers’ “The Northerner,” which are also the directors’ third films associated with the prestigious horror, both suffered financial disappointment.
No one expected Nope to challenge the box office of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but its first weekend with $44 million is likely to be a slight disappointment for Universal. However, the real test for Knope will be the following weeks. If Nope experiences a fairly typical box office decline pattern over time, it may not make a profit, especially with limited appeal abroad. However, if it can maintain the same rumor and hype as Get Out, Nope could still be a success.