‘Gone Girl’ gold

ScreenerBlog

The race for box-office dominance was close this weekend, but Gone Girl managed the victory. The latest from director David Fincher grossed $38 million to horror flick Annabelle’s $37.2 million. These films did the lion’s share of the work helping the domestic box office reach its highest peak in quite some time. This weekend was the most lucrative ever for the month of October, and the combined $141.8 million earned by the top 12 films was up 23 percent from this same spread last year.

Ben Affleck enjoyed the second-best opening of his career with Gone Girl, behind 2003’s Daredevil. It was the largest debut ever for Fincher, whose Panic Room had previously enjoyed the strongest opening among the filmmaker’s movies (Room bowed to a little over $30 million in 2002). Between the cache of a director known for films with twisty plots (see: Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac), a major movie star in a lead role, and material based on a bestselling novel and thus boasting built-in interest, Girl was able to lure a sizable audience. These viewers left theatres with mixed feelings, however; they awarded the movie a B CinemaScore grade, which is all right, but certainly not terrific. Their word-of-mouth might hinder Girl from maintaining a secure hold in the weeks ahead.

Interestingly, and further proving a point made to great effect by summer hits The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent, female audiences comprised the majority of viewers for both Gone Girl and the weekend’s No. 2 earner, Annabelle. Sixty percent of audience members for Girl were female (75 percent were also older than 25), while Annabelle’s viewership was 51 percent female (and 54 percent 25+). Annabelle, a prequel to The Conjuring and arriving in theatres a smart 15 months after The Conjuring’s debut, enjoyed the sixth-best opening ever for a supernatural horror film. It earned the same CinemaScore rating as the movie that barely beat it to first place, although a B for a horror feature, a genre whose offerings often garner poor grades, bodes much better for the film’s hold than a B for a drama. Still, Gone Girl is expected to top Fincher’s most lucrative film to date, the $127.5 million-grossing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, while pundits are predicting an $80 million or so total for Annabelle.

The Equalizer dipped 44 percent to earn $19 million and a third-place standing. Its downturn is neatly in line with recent and comparable title Non-Stop, which dropped 45 percent its second weekend in theatres. To date, the Denzel Washington vehicle has grossed $64.5 million.

Fourth place went to The Boxtrolls, which enjoyed a fairly steady hold. The kids’ film from Laika Animation raked in $12.4 million, a dip of 28 percent. Its cume, at the moment, stands at $32.5 million.

Younger viewers (though not quite as young as the target audience for Boxtrolls) also continued to turn out for YA adaptation The Maze Runner, which earned $12 million this weekend and clocked in at No. 5. Well on its way toward a $100 million+ total, the action film has so far earned $73.9 million. 

Left Behind failed to match the success of faith-based titles Heaven Is for Real and God's Not Dead, but neither did it disappoint: The remake starring Nicolas Cage grossed $6.85 million and secured the weekend's sixth-place spot.

Finally, despite major stars in leading roles, specialty films The Good Lie and Men, Women & Children opened soft. Lie raked in $935,000 from 461 locations, while Children fared worse: The latest from director Jason Reitman brought in $48,000, a total that works out to a weak per-theatre average of $2,824. Here’s hoping the film benefits significantly from its national expansion this weekend.