Emily Blunt in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.
Emily Blunt in A QUIET PLACE, from Paramount Pictures.

A Quiet Place made a loud statement at the box office this weekend.

The horror movie — co-written and directed and starring John Krasinski, and co-starring his wife, Emily Blunt — proved a thriller for Paramount Pictures, debuting in first place with $50 million. That number is good for the second highest opening of the year, behind only Marvel’s Black Panther. That’s just scary.

It’s a surprise twist considering prognosticators predicted it would scratch and claw its way to a $30 million opening. And it’s a happy ending for the filmmaker and studio considering the entire production cost just $17 million to make. But perhaps it shouldn’t be that much of a shocker.

“Horror movies get marginalized in a way that other genres don’t,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst for ComScore, told RealClearLife. “But you can get the biggest bang for your buck with those movies because they don’t require that much money to make.”

Dergarabedian points out that horror movies, including It and Get Out, generated over $1 billion last year in North America alone.

Ticket-buyers like to get scared. Especially when those scares come courtesy of a smart script: A Quiet Place, about a family hiding in silence from deadly creatures that are drawn to sound,  has had critics talking loudly since its SXSW Festival debut last month. The film boasts a 97 percent “fresh” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

And that first place finish draws eery parallels to last year’s smart horror surprise, Get Out, which debuted to $33.4 million in February 2017 before going on carve a swathe through the competition to earn $176 million in North America alone. Those sort of heady numbers, though, may be out of reach for A Quiet Place with the Hulk-sized Avengers: Infinity War set to open up on April 27.

Finishing in second place this weekend was the last week’s champ, Steven Spielberg sci-fi flick, Ready Player One, which earned $25 million in its second weekend. 

This weekend’s win still proves a superhero movie stuffed with stars or a sci-fi film built on costly special effects is not the only way to make money in Hollywood. A Quiet Place also is reminiscent of the box office spree of Paramount’s first Paranormal Activity, which made $108 million in its initial 2006 run and revitalized the genre… until the studio beat the franchise to death with too many sequels. This time the marketing team proved as much as a hero to the film as Krasinski and Blunt’s characters, producing creepy trailers that played up the film’s high concept.

And the success of A Quiet Place likely sets up former The Office star Krasinski as a future candidate behind the camera on bigger budget movies — possibly on a similar trajectory as fellow actor Ben Affleck or Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele. (Krasinski has certainly taken a step up from his directorial debut, the indie comedy, The Hollars, which earned just over $1 million in its 2016 run.)

“Anyone who can open a movie to $50 million instantaneously makes someone a major player,” said Dergarabedian. “Krasinski is having a great weekend. He has to be as shocked as anyone that his movie just made $50 million.”