Box office preview: Can Jordan Peele’s 3rd movie ‘Nope’ build on the promise of ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’?

As we near the last few weeks of July, the box office might start slowing down, but it won’t be happening this weekend, because after three years, Oscar winner Jordan Peele is back with “Nope,” his follow-up to 2019’s “Us.” How much money is it expected to make? Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.

From the trailers and commercials, “Nope” looks like Peele’s take on UFOs, and it reunites the filmmaker with actor Daniel Kaluuya, who received his first Oscar nomination for “Get Out” before winning an Oscar for “Judas and the Black Messiah” last year. He’s joined by Keke Palmer, who recently provided a voice for Pixar’s “Lightyear,” as well as another Oscar nominee in Steven Yeun (“Minari”).

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Peele first made a name for himself doing comedy sketches with Keegan-Michael Key, first on “Mad TV” and then on Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele.” Peele’s directorial debut “Get Out” first exploded onto the scene with a secret midnight screening at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It was released by Universal in February of that year, opening with a respectable $33.4 million. It would go on to have an amazing hold over the coming two months, eventually making $176 million in domestic gross. More importantly, it received four Oscar nominations almost a year post-release, winning the Academy Award in Original Screenplay for Peele, who also won a DGA Award for first-time feature.

Two years later, Peele was back with the odder horror film “Us,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, which debuted at the South by Southwest Film Festival, creating huge buzz for its release later that March, when it opened with a remarkable $71.1 million. It would go on to match “Get Out’s” domestic gross.

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What “Nope” should benefit from is its prime mid-summer release. There are a number of great comparisons as far as alien invasion films: M. Night Shyamalan’s own alien epic “Signs, opened with $60.1 million in August 2002, and then Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” adaptation, starring Tom Cruise, opened with $64 million in late June 2005. When you look at those openings over 17 years ago and you consider things like the growing popularity for Peele and pervasiveness of the trailers in theaters, particularly in IMAX where higher ticket prices will help, those seem like decent benchmarks for “Nope.”

Peele’s previous two films have both been well-received by critics with “Get Out” receiving 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and “Us” doing slightly lower but still good with 93% on the review aggregator. Reviews won’t be hitting Rotten Tomatoes until mid-week, so we’ll see if that continues Peele’s run with critics or whether they’ll turn on him due to their deservedly lofty expectations. As of this writing, “Nope” is at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is indeed lower than Peele’s previous two movies, but it’s still not bad and will help remove any doubts from those wanting to see what Peele does with the alien invasion genre.

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I still think $60 million is a pretty good benchmark for “Nope,” which would be a lighter opening than “Us,” but if the movie is received well — keep an eye on that CinemaScore on Sunday — it should be able to build on that to at least match the domestic gross of Peele’s previous film or maybe do slightly better.

Unlike last week, “Nope” is the only new wide release, although we’re still keeping an eye on what A24 does with “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” which might seem like decent counter-programming. Either way, the top five should remain mostly the same but with “Top Gun” likely to pull ahead of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” while remaining in fourth place.

Check back on Sunday (or possibly Monday) to see how “Nope” ended up doing and whether Peele has pulled off that extremely difficult triple-blockbuster play.

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