Evil Dead Rise Could Top 2013's Evil Dead In Its Opening Weekend At The Box Office

Horror fans have been waiting a full decade for the Deadites to return to the big screen. Well, Warner Bros. and director Lee Cronin have answered the call as "Evil Dead Rise" is officially in theaters. Not only is the film earning extremely positive reviews, kicking off with its electric screening at SXSW last month (read our review here), but the film is off to a good start at the box office as well. So much so that it could — strong emphasis on could — end up topping 2013's "Evil Dead" on its opening weekend, depending on how things shake out between now and Monday morning.

According to Deadline, "Evil Dead Rise" scared up $2.5 million in Thursday preview screenings. Heading into the weekend, industry estimates had the film earning somewhere between $15 and $20 million. While that won't be enough to take down "Super Mario Bros.," it will be enough to call it a successful debut, given that the latest entry in the long-running horror series carries a reported $15 million budget. Matching/exceeding your production budget on opening weekend is always a sign that things are very much headed in the right direction.

For the sake of comparison, director Fede Alvarez's "Evil Dead" saw $1.9 million from Thursday preview screenings back in 2013, en route to a $25.7 million opening weekend. Looking strictly at the preview numbers, there is a suggestion that "Rise" could exceed that $25 million figure, if word of mouth carries through the weekend. Though it should be noted that in 2013, the film only had screenings from 10 p.m. on, whereas that $2.5 million figure takes into account screenings a bit earlier in the day. Still, things are looking good.

How the numbers stack up

2013's "Evil Dead" ended up finishing its run with $97.5 million against a $17 million budget, which was a very solid result. While we never got a direct sequel to that film, it did help pave the way for "Ash vs. Evil Dead" and gave Sam Raimi's B-movie series legitimate mainstream success. Raimi, as well as original star Bruce Campbell and producer Rob Tapert, returned to produce "Evil Dead Rise." So, even though Raimi isn't in the director's chair, the film is very much coming from the original brain trust.

As far as recent, R-rated horror goes, "The Black Phone" did $3 million in previews en route to a $23.6 million start, whereas "Smile" took in $2 million on Thursday ahead of a $22.6 million start. The difference, in those cases, is that they were not connected to a beloved legacy franchise, which can certainly provide that extra juice to push "Rise" to a $26 million opening, give or take.

One thing "Evil Dead Rise." has going for it is slightly better critical praise. The film currently sits at a very solid 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, to go with an 85% audience score. Meanwhile, the 2013 entry sits at 63% and 64%, respectively. That indicates word of mouth could be strong, which should help carry Cronin's flick to the higher end of expectations. Granted, there is more direct horror competition in theaters right now, with "The Pope's Exorcist" and "Renfield" entering their second weekends.

"Evil Dead Rise" is in theaters now.