The box office might be struggling this year, but the horror genre is alive and well.
This weekend the "Groundhog Day"-like horror pic "Happy Death Day" scored a first-place finish, surpassing expectations and blowing the much costlier and star-driven "Blade Runner 2049" out of the water.
Studio estimates Sunday show "Happy Death Day" took in $26.5 million from 3,149 North American theaters. With a $5 million production price tag, "Happy Death Day" is already a hit.
With a PG-13 rating, the film scored big with younger audiences — 63 percent were under 25.
It's the latest success story from Blumhouse Productions, which earlier this year released "Split" and "Get Out," with the help of Universal Pictures, which distributed.
Jim Orr, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Universal, said "Happy Death Day" is an original film that's reimaging the genre.
"It's as much thriller as it is horror film. It's scary, it's funny, and it has an extraordinarily clever script that is very well executed," Orr said. "Blumhouse owns this space no doubt about it, and they do this better than anybody consistently."
The film also had the benefit of coming on the heels of the massive success of "It," which has earned $314.9 million domestically to date. The "Happy Death Day" trailer played in front of "It" at theaters, which "exponentially increased" audience awareness, said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Horror continues to be one of the bright spots during a roller-coaster year at the box office.
"This is a horror gold rush at the theaters," Dergarabedian said. "It's been perhaps the most consistently positive story this year."
One film that does not look destined for a happy ending is "Blade Runner 2049," which fell 54 percent in its second weekend in theaters, adding $15.1 million to bring its domestic total to $60.6 million.
The film was a costly endeavor with a production price tag north of $150 million and was well-reviewed by critics. But it couldn't manage to draw in significant audiences beyond the fans of the 1982 original, which was also a flop upon release.
Jackie Chan's "The Foreigner" debuted in third place with $12.8 million from 2,515 screens, while "It" landed in fourth place in its sixth weekend in theaters.
The Kate Winslet and Idris Elba disaster pic "The Mountain Between Us" rounded out the top five with $5.7 million.
Other new releases landed outside the top 10. The Thurgood Marshall biopic "Marshall" took in a promising $3 million from 821 theaters.
"Marshall is off to a solid start," said Open Road Films CEO Tom Ortenberg in a statement. "We expect Marshall to hold very well and run well into the fall."
But the Wonder Woman creator biopic "Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman" failed to capitalize from the massive success of "Wonder Woman" earlier this year. The film earned only $737,000 from over 1,200 locations.
"Goodbye Christopher Robin," about author A.A. Milne and the creation of the beloved children's books and characters, also got off to a poor start with $56,000 from nine theaters.
"October is off to a slow start," Dergarabedian said.