NEW YORK — The “Conjuring” spinoff “Annabelle: Creation” scared up an estimated $35 million in North American theaters over the weekend, making it easily the top film and giving the lagging August box office a shot in the arm.

The opening came close to matching the film’s predecessor, “Annabelle,” which opened with $37.1 million in October 2014. Warner Bros. could celebrate not only the month’s biggest debut but also having the week’s top two films. Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” followed in second with $11.4 million in its fourth weekend, according to studio estimates.

Even amid an especially weak August, the well-reviewed horror sequel and modestly budgeted “Annabelle: Creation” found eager audiences.

“That we were able to do $35 million in what is a very sluggish marketplace was very impressive,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ distribution chief.

The film, the third to spiral out of 2013’s “The Conjuring,” cost only about $15 million to make. More sequels and spinoffs are being developed in what has become for Warner Bros. a steadily profitable horror franchise bent on old-school frights. The “Annabelle” offshoot centers on a possessed doll.

– From news service reports

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