LOS ANGELES — The box office might be struggling this year, but the horror genre is alive and well.
The "Groundhog Day"-like horror pic "Happy Death Day" scored a first-place finish over the weekend, surpassing expectations and blowing the much costlier and star-driven "Blade Runner 2049" out of the water.
Studio estimates Sunday showed that "Happy Death Day" took in $26.5 million from 3,149 North American theaters. With a $5 million production price tag, "Happy Death Day" is already a hit.
With a PG-13 rating, the film scored big with younger audiences — 63 percent were under 25.
It's the latest success story from Blumhouse Productions, which earlier this year released "Split" and "Get Out," with the help of Universal Pictures, which distributed.
(Universal Pictures is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)
Jim Orr, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Universal, said "Happy Death Day" was an original film that was reimagining the genre.
"Blumhouse owns this space, no doubt about it, and they do this better than anybody consistently," Orr said.
The film had the benefit of coming on the heels of the massive success of "It," which has earned $314.9 million domestically to date. The "Happy Death Day" trailer played in front of "It" at theaters, which "exponentially increased" audience awareness, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for the media analytics company comScore.
Horror continues to be a bright spot during a roller-coaster year at the box office.
"This is a horror gold rush at the theaters," Dergarabedian said. "It's been perhaps the most consistently positive story this year."
One film that doesn't look destined for a happy ending is "Blade Runner 2049," which fell by 54 percent in its second weekend in theaters, adding $15.1 million to bring its domestic total to $60.6 million.
The film, a costly endeavor with a production price tag north of $150 million, was well-reviewed by critics. But it couldn't manage to draw in significant audiences beyond fans of the 1982 original, which was also a flop upon release.
Jackie Chan's "The Foreigner" made its debut in third place, with $12.8 million from 2,515 screens, while "It" landed in fourth place in its sixth weekend in theaters.
The Kate Winslet and Idris Elba disaster pic "The Mountain Between Us" rounded out the top five, with $5.7 million.
Other new releases landed outside the top 10. The Thurgood Marshall biopic "Marshall" took in a promising $3 million from 821 theaters.
"'Marshall' is off to a solid start," Open Road Films Chief executive Tom Ortenberg said in a statement. "We expect 'Marshall' to hold very well and run well into the fall."
But "Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman," about William Moulton Marston, the creator of the comic "Wonder Woman, failed to capitalize on the massive success of the "Wonder Woman" movie earlier this year. The film earned only $737,000 from more than 1,200 locations.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
- "Happy Death Day," $26.5 million ($5 million international).
- "Blade Runner 2049," $15.1 million ($29.3 million international).
- "The Foreigner," $12.8 million ($5.2 million international).
- "It," $6.1 million ($10.4 million international).
- "The Mountain Between Us," $5.7 million ($4.1 million international).
- "American Made," $5.4 million ($3.2 million international).
- "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," $5.3 million ($15.6 million international).
- "The Lego Ninjago Movie," $4.3 million ($9.5 million international).
- "My Little Pony: The Movie," $4 million ($4.9 million international).
- "Victoria and Abdul," $3.1 million ($1.9 million international).