(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Three years have passed since the first battle between churchy paranormal investigator and haunted house…

The once-hyped digital armies of Warcraft lay among the blackened and charred remains of its domestic opening weekend. The movie’s underwhelming $24.4 million box office proved to be no match for The Conjuring 2, which rode the moviegoing public’s insatiable thirst for quality scares, sideburns, and Poltergeist-influenced direction to a No. 1 opening with $40.4 million, making it a rare victor in a multiplex battlefield strewn with underperforming sequels. The Conjuring 2’s take is almost identical to the $41.8 million earned by the original film in its opening weekend.

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Yearning for the sounds of box office ka-ching to fill the air, Warcraft’s Orcish warriors had to look to the far horizon for new markets to dominate. Borne across the Great Sea, Warcraft brought in an estimated $156 million in only five days in China, thereby beating a local record set by Furious 7, Conjuring 2 director James Wan’s last movie. Prospects were dimmer for the mages of by Now You See Me 2, which landed right behind Warcraft in the No. 3 spot with an estimated $23 million. (Maybe they shouldn’t have changed the title.)

Last week’s No. 1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, fell to the fourth spot with $14.8 million. The bloodshed continued among the limited releases, where the high-concept cop comedy Puerto Ricans In Paris made only $25,000 on 41 screens, for a disastrous $610 per theater average. The literary biopic Genius earned a healthy $98,000 on 16 screens, while the well-received documentary De Palma made a little over $30,000 in three theaters, making for a per-theater average bested only by The Conjuring 2.

Meanwhile, Whit Stillman’s surprisingly commercially durable Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship made another $1.5 million this fifth weekend, becoming the cult writer-director’s most commercially successful film. (Technically, Barcelona made more when adjusted for inflation, but it was also a more expensive production.)

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For now however, the film industry is readying to brace itself as it stands at the shores of destiny and awaits the coming Tides Of Dory…