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Box Office: Kenneth Branagh’s ‘A Haunting in Venice’ Starts Off With $1.2M in Previews

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Director Kenneth Branagh’s A Haunting in Venice has started off its North American box office run with $1.2 million in previews, just ahead of the last film in the Agatha Christie-inspired movie series and other adult-skewing titles including Ticket to Paradise. The latter two films both started off with $1.1 million in previews on their way to opening to $13 million and $16.5 million, respectively.

Haunting in Venice, from 20th Century Studios and Disney, is likewise tracking for a $13 million to $15 million domestic launch.

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That’s not far ahead of the last film in the series, Death on the Nile, which opened to $12.8 million in February 2022, when the box office was still in recovery mode. The sequel was among the many films delayed because of COVID-19; it also had to contend with negative publicity surrounding star Armie Hammer (he doesn’t appear in the new film). That film’s ensemble cast also included Gal Gadot and Letitia Wright. Death on the Nile topped out at subdued $137.3 million globally.

In 2017, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express turned into a sleeper hit after opening to $28.6 million domestically on its way to earning more than $350 million worldwide. (The first film’s ensemble cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Depp.)

In addition to directing, Branagh reprises his role as the iconic detective Hercule Poirot in A Haunting in Vencie. The ensemble cast also includes Camille Cottin, Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Kyle Allen and Riccardo Scamarcio.

Similar to other recent movies, Branagh’s film had to make its final publicity push without the help of its cast because of the ongoing actors strike.

The filmmakers are hoping that good reviews will provide an upside for A Haunting in Venice, which currently rests at a critics’ score of 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 61 percent for Death on the Nile and 62 percent for Orient Express. The story follows the famous detective, who is now retired and living in Venice, as he tries to solve the murder of a young woman he met at a séance.

Disney, which inherited the adult-skewing franchise when buying 20th Century Fox, kept the budget of the newest film at $60 million to $70 million, versus nearly $100 million for Death on the Nile.

Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, about the 2021 GameStop stock phenomenon fueled by individual investors driven by social media, opens in limited release this weekend. Sony had intended to roll out the film nationwide on Sept. 22, but decided go more slowly because of the strike and the inability of actors to promote the film.

Dumb Money stars Paul Dano and Pete Davidson. America Ferrera, Seth Rogen, Shailene Woodley and Anthony Ramos co-star in the film, which made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

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