Fox’s Gone Girl and Warner’s Annabelle duked it out for the top spot at the North American box office, with the marital thriller edging out the horror prequel by a slight margin. Both films exceeded pre-release expectations and helped give the box office a much-needed boost following the worst September for business since 2008. The top ten was not only up 44% over last weekend’s totals, it was up 24% over last year at this time as well when Gravity started its successful run with a $55 million debut.
After opening the New York Film Festival in late September Gone Girl, the latest feature from director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac), arrived on 3,014 theaters where it earned a great $38 million. The film, which is based on Gillian Flynn’s novel and stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry, earned a solid 87% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but found a little more resistance from ticket buyers polled on opening day by CinemaScore. They gave the film a “B” rating.
The big opening is a career best for Fincher, surpassing the $30 million earned by 2002’s Panic Room. The $38 million opening is also the third-best for headliner Affleck following 2001’s Pearl Harbor ($59 million) and 2003’s Daredevil ($40 million). With the strong reviews and Oscar talk supporting it Gone Girl should become Fincher’s latest $100 million domestic hit. His last three features, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button were all well reviewed adult dramas that displayed strong box office legs following good-sized openings. The Social Network earned $96 million while Dragon Tattoo and Benjamin Button earned more than $100 million.
In July of 2013, The Conjuring came out of nowhere to become the sleeper hit of the season. The $20 million horror flick earned a fantastic $137 million during its run, which of course prompted Warner Brothers to order up a sequel. While The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist is still a year off –the film debuts on October 23, 2015-, a prequel of sorts showed up this weekend. Budgeted at $6.5 million, Annabelle arrived on 3,185 screens where it proceeded to scare up $37.2 million.
The reviews for Annabelle were decidedly less kind than the ones for The Conjuring, which earned a great 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The new horror feature earned a scary 31% approval on RT and a “B” rating from CinemaScore. Horror films, in particular ones that are sequels/prequels, tend to open big and fade really fast. While Annabelle did lose business on Saturday, the drop was surprisingly small: 9.7%. In comparison, The Conjuring lost 18% of its opening day business on its first Saturday of release and that was during the middle of the summer.
After mowing down the competition last weekend Sony’s The Equalizer showed staying power thanks to a strong second weekend. The Denzel Washington-starrer eased only 44% to earn an estimated $19 million from 3,236 theaters. After ten days, the Antoine Fuqua action thriller has earned $64.5 million and should work its way to $95-100 million domestically. Overseas totals currently stand at $39.5 million.
Another opener from last weekend that held its ground in its sophomore session was Focus Features’ The Boxtrolls. The animated feature eased only 28% in its second go around –a sign of strong word-of-mouth- on 3,464 theaters where it earned $12.4 million. After ten days The Boxtrolls has earned $32.5 million and depending on competition and word of mouth could wind down its run around the $65 million mark. Foreign totals currently stand at $26 million.
Rounding out the top five was Fox’s hit The Maze Runner. Like The Equalizer and The Boxtrolls, Maze Runner has benefitted from strong word-of-mouth. In its third weekend, The Maze Runner was down only 31% from its previous weekend totals. Still on 3,605 screens the film earned an estimated $12 million to bring its total to $74 million. The film could make its way to the $100 million mark by the end of its run. Overseas, the film’s grosses currently stand at $101 million.
Just outside the top five was the other wide opener of the weekend, Freestyle’s religious drama Left Behind. The Nic Cage-led remake of the Kirk Cameron starrer from last decade was ripped apart by critics, who gave the film a whopping two percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes. It appears that the public that did show up to buy tickets wasn’t all that crazy about the film either. They gave the movie a “B-“ Cinemascore rating and contributed a damning $6.85 million on 1,825 screens.
The remainder of the top ten:
- This is Where I Leave You (Warner) $4 million (-42%); $29 million
- Dolphin Tale 2 (Warner) $3.5 million (-26%); $37.9 million
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel) $3 million (-19%); $323 million
- No Good Deed (Sony) $2.5 million (-44%); $50.1 million
Next weekend sees the arrival of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Dracula Untold and The Judge starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.