Latino Moviegoers Propelled Horror Flick ‘The Nun’ to No. 1 at the Box Office

Lead Photo: 'The Nun' still courtesy of Warner Bros.
'The Nun' still courtesy of Warner Bros.
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It is official: Demián Bichir is a box office powerhouse. As the ruggedly handsome priest Father Burke in The Nun, he now joins a long-running list of actors who have found success in the horror genre. But the success of this The Conjuring spin-off/prequel surely owes much to Bichir’s presence. With its haul of $53 million, the Corin Hardy-directed film became the No. 1 movie in the country on opening weekend and earned the highest opening weekend box office for the entire Conjuring universe. That number puts it at the runner-up spot of all horror box office weekend openers while it remains the highest-ranking opening weekend of 2018 for non-tentpole or action flicks. And with a second weekend that found it as the No. 2 movie in the United States bringing its running total to $85 million, The Nun proved its success has only just begun.

Moreover, the horror drama that gives us backstory on the terrifying nun that haunted the bejeesus out of us in The Conjuring 2, has been a hit with Latino audiences. Compared to other markets, the film overperformed in Miami. Attendance in majority-Latino metro area was almost 4 percent higher than other cities — no doubt a result of Warner Bros hosting a Press Day in Miami with the Mexican actor that targeted regional and national Hispanic broadcast networks. But the pattern held up nationwide where 36 percent of its audience was Latino, a full 10 points above what’s the norm for 2018 horror flicks. We’ll chalk it up partly to Bichir’s good looks and talents, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Catholic angle didn’t also play a role. I’ll speak for myself but there are few things as terrifying as a creepy nun trying to kill me in an abandoned abbey in Transylvania, you know? Either way, it seems Hollywood has finally figured out a perfect way to lure Latinx moviegoers to go to their movies: actually casting Latino leads! I mean, I’m not saying that if Marvel cast a Latino superhero it would shatter all box office records, but I’m also not not saying that.

All kidding aside, The Nun and Bichir’s box office success should remind us that the US Latino demographic remains the most underrepresented on screen (3 percent of characters in Hollywood films are Latino) despite the disproportionate way in which it buys movie tickets (Latinos buy 24 percent of all movie tickets on any given year). In a year when the success of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians has had everyone praising the potential of all kinds of stories at the box office, The Nun stands as a niche horror example that confirms that so-called diversity need not be just a buzzword but ultimately great business as well.

The Nun is currently playing in theaters.