Weekend Box Office: ‘Train’ Rides Into the Top Spot

It was a mediocre holiday weekend at the North America box office as Universal’s The Girl on the Train withstood Hurricane Matthew and a storm of negative reviews to become the country’s new number one flick. The controversial Fox Searchlight drama Birth of a Nation encountered labor pains in its debut, while the family flick Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life flunked out. Overall, the top ten was down 12% from one year ago when The Martian led the box office with $37 million in its second weekend.

Hoping to become the next Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train opened on 3,144 where it earned a good but not great $24.6 million. Reviews for the big screen adaptation of the 2015 Paula Hawkins novel were largely on the negative side. The Emily Blunt feature earned a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 48/100 on MetaCritic. Ticket buyers didn’t seem too thrilled by the $45 million production either. They gave Train a “B-“ on CinemaScore. The film also opened overseas to $16.5 million this weekend.

Last weekend’s champ, Fox’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, had a decent hold in its second weekend of release on 3,705 screens. The Tim Burton feature dropped 48% from a week ago to earn an estimated $15 million. After ten days, Peregrine has brought in $51 million in domestic sales and could be looking at a final North American tally near $90 million. Foreign markets have earned the film $94 million so far.

Like Peregrine, the Lionsgate drama Deepwater Horizon also had a good hold in its sophomore session. Now on 3,259 screens, the Mark Whalberg feature eased 42% from its premiere weekend to earn an estimated $11.7 million. The overall domestic total for Deepwater Horizon currently sits at $38.5 million. A final haul near $60 million is a possibility. Foreign sales stand at $27 million.

Fourth place belonged to Sony’s western hit The Magnificent Seven, which corralled $9.1 million from 3,696 theaters in its third weekend. Off 41%, the Antoine Fuqua remake has earned $76 million to date and should close near the $100 million mark. Overseas markets have contributed $58.7 million.

Warner’s animated Storks rounded out the top five with an estimated gross of $8.4 million. Displaying a decrease of 37% from the previous weekend, the cartoon has delivered $50 million after three weeks of release domestically and $56 million from overseas. A final domestic tally around $70 million is likely.

Despite decent reviews from the nation’s critics, Fox Searchlight’s Oscar wannabe Birth of a Nation failed to reach a wide audience in its opening weekend on 2,105 screens. The Nate Parker-directed historical drama could only muster a sixth place finish good for an estimated $7.1 million. The recent controversy regarding Parker’s sexual assault charges filed against him nearly two decades ago –ones which Parker was found not guilty of- may have played a role in the lower-than-anticipated opening figures.

Another possibility may have been Fox’s decision not to build awareness for the film by opening the feature in limited release and slowly building upon its screen count from there. After all, this strategy seemed to work fine for the studio four years ago with its Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. Opening weekend viewers polled on CinemaScore gave Birth of a Nation an “A” rating, which may help keep the film around in theaters as we get closer to awards season.

The weekend’s other new arrival, CBS/Lionsgate’s Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, arrived with a thud in seventh place with an estimated $6.9 million from 2,822 screens. The low-budget comedy –based on a popular series of books- got mixed reviews from the press. Ticket buyers gave it an “A-“ CinemaScore rating. Whether that translates into moderate box office before a quick trip to blu-ray remains to be seen.

  1. Sully (Warner) $5.2 million (-36%); $113.4 million
  1. Masterminds (Relativity) $4.1 million (-37%); $12.7 million
  1. Queen of Katwe (Disney) $1.6 million (-35%); $5.3 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of the Ben Affleck thriller The Accountant, the concert film Kevin Hart: What Now? and something called Max Steel, which I have never heard of.

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