Audiences are saying yup to Jordan Peele's Nope.
The horror director's third film had a solid debut at the domestic box office, grossing $44 million. That was on the lower end of expectations, but it was enough to give Nope the biggest opening for an original studio film in over three years, as The Hollywood Reporter noted. The last original movie to have a bigger debut was Peele's own Us, which opened to $71 million in March 2019.
Peele, who was once best known for the comedy sketch show Key & Peele, pivoted to horror directing with 2017's Get Out, a pop culture phenomenon that won him a screenwriting Oscar. Since then, as Hollywood grows increasingly reluctant to greenlight films not based on pre-existing properties, Peele has become one of the few directors whose name alone can sell a movie. Nope sees him take on a summer blockbuster, drawing on films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws as he follows horse trainers who attempt to become rich and famous by capturing footage of a UFO.
Analysts thought Nope would likely open above $50 million, so this debut didn't blow away expectations. But it certainly wasn't bad, especially for an R-rated horror movie that isn't a sequel or a remake. If Nope is all about Hollywood workers trying to capture the impossible on film, Peele himself continues to do the impossible: getting moviegoers to come to the theater for original movies.