'Us' smashes box office expectations, nabs best opening weekend for an original horror film with $70 million gross

Key Points
  • Jordan Peele's "Us" took in $70.25 million during its debut, smashing expectations.
  • The film had the third-best horror movie opening in film industry history, and the biggest opening for a horror film not based on a pre-existing property.
  • "Us" has generated critical acclaim and early buzz about possible Oscar nominations next year.
Writer/Director Jordan Peele attends the 'Us' New York Premiere at Museum of Modern Art on March 19, 2019 in New York City.
Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic | Getty Images

Jordan Peele's "Us" pulled in some huge box office numbers in its opening weekend, hauling in $70.25 million in the U.S. and cementing itself as the third best horror movie debut in the history of cinema.

"Us" had been tracking towards a $50 million opening weekend, but strong Thursday and Friday ticket sales had analysts revising their estimates through Saturday night.

The film took in $29 million between Thursday previews and Friday night showings, a strong start for a horror film that doesn't have the benefit of a major franchise fueling ticket sales.

"Just two movies into his feature film career, Jordan Peele has already established himself as a brand whose films are known for creating a scary good time at the movie theater while generating huge profits at the box office," Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Comscore, said.

"Us" tells the story of Adelaide Wilson (Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong'o) and her family during a trip to their beachfront home. Adelaide is traumatized by an experience on the nearby boardwalk during her childhood and grows increasingly paranoid that something bad is going to happen during their vacation.

Her worst fears come true when the family is visited by four strangers who look exactly like them.

"Us'" $70 million box office opening is the third-best horror movie debut, behind "It," which took in $123.4 million during its first weekend last September and "Halloween," which earned $76.2 million during its opening in October. Peele's film had the best opening of any original horror film.

Internationally, "Us" earned $16.7 million, bringing its total worldwide tally to $86.9 million.

Peele has gained clout with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since his directorial debut film "Get Out" was nominated for three awards in 2018. Peele earned himself an Oscar for best original screenplay for the film. He was also a producer on Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," which earned a best picture nomination this year, but lost to "Green Book."

There is already buzz that "Us" could be an Oscar contender in next year's ceremony.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, distributed "Us."