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Weekend Box Office: Girl on the Train Barrels to Win, Birth of a Nation Falters

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By Chris Kavan - 10/09/16 at 07:27 PM CT

Two big films were on display this weekend, but only one managed to win over audiences. That would be Emily Blunt and her mystery thriller - The Girl on the Train, which easily topped the box office. Meanwhile, all the controversy surrounding Birth of a Nation didn't drum up much interest from audiences as the film couldn't even crack the top five. Neither could the kid-friendly Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life - though that was pretty much expected. Still, once again the top 12 films couldn't top $100 million and the weekend was down 8.7% compared to the same weekend last year - continuing the disappointing fall season.


There little doubt in my mind that The Girl On the Train would be the top movie of the year, pretty much the only question was how big was it going to open. The answer is - okay but not spectacular. The $24.6 million was under expectations by just a bit and was also a bit front-loaded as the film didn't deliver great reviews (44% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the audience response was also a bit muted with just a "B-" Cinemascore. That audience was 68% female and 55% over 35. While compared to Gone Girl, that film's $37 million opening, $167 million total is not going to come in to play. The good thing is the film has a mild budget at $45 million and is looking at a total of near $75 million with hopefully at least as much overseas. While it's not going to be a huge hit, it should make money for the studio. The big test is going to be coming soon when Ben Affleck's The Accountant (targeting much the same audience) drops this coming weekend.


The latest effort from Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, took a 48% hit in its second weekend. The film brought in $15 million, which was enough for the film to cross the $50 million mark with a new $51 million total. That is right in line with the last two Maze Runner films (46% and 52% drop from the original and sequel) and its two-week total is also right in line with those films ($57.9 and $51 million respectively). If the film can break out overseas (thus far is has a decent $50 million there as well) it should be able to make good on its $110 million budget. Once again, foreign totals are going to play a bigger part in the overall fortune of this film than anything else.


The true-drama Deepwater Horizon dipped about 42% in its second weekend and brought in $11.75 million for a new total of $38.5 million. With a budget equal to that of Miss Peregrine, but looking at a fraction of the foreign grosses, Deepwater Horizon is not likely going to come out on the positive side of its budget. It's drop was right along the line of Lone Survivor (dropped 41% in its second weekend) and Fury (down 43%) but well below both films when it comes to its grosses. This one will likely top $50 million but I don't see it doing much beyond that.


The ensemble remake dropped 41.4% in its third weekend but the $9.15 million it brought in was enough for the film to cross the $75 million mark with a new total of $79.5 million. While it's going to fall short of Safe House ($126 million) it should come close or pass both The Book of Eli ($94 million) and The Equalizer ($101 million). With foreign totals taken in to account, the film has already topped its $90 million budget (it has earned $134.6 million worldwide and counting), thus this is already in the solid win category and anything from here on out will only add to the good times.


Rounding out the top five, the animated Storks took a 37.3% drop and added another $8.45 million to its total, which now stands at $50.1 million. While it did cross that milestone, it's still sitting pretty low for an animated title. It has also earned $56 million overseas for a $106 million global total - also well above its $70 million budget. While those numbers are solid, I don't think the studio is going to be frothing at the mouth for a Storks franchise any time soon.

Outside the top five: Nate Parker couldn't turn controversy into gold as the Nat Turner drama The Birth of a Nation fell outside the top five with a sixth-place finish at just $7.1 million. That total is actually lower than the $7.5 million opening for Free State of Jones (which only went on to a $21 million domestic haul). Still, the biopic did earn good critical reviews (79% on Rotten Tomatoes) and opening day audiences gave it an "A" Cinemascore, so maybe it can somewhat recover from this opening. What was shaping up at Sundance to be a major Oscar contender instead became mired in controversy - and not that kind that lead to curiosity. We'll see how this plays out, but its award-season hopes may have just been dashed.

Also opening outside the top five, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life opened with $6.9 million in seventh place. The film is playing more like Judy Mooney than Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If it can manage to hold on to its audience, similar to The Duff or Wimpy Kid, it could be looking at a decent $20-$25 million (on an $8.5 million budget). If it's one and done like Judy - it could fall short of $15 million.

In milestone news, Finding Dory officially crossed the $1 billion worldwide mark - becoming just the 27th film to do so - the fifth-best animated film and second-best Pixar film. It's also the biggest domestic release (thus far) of 2016 at $484.78 million.

Suicide Squad passed Deadpool on the worldwide total as well. The film got mixed reactions, but its $$419.6 million just edges out the foul-mouthed star at $419.5 million. It's still trailing the film on the domestic front (and won't catch up) but I'm sure the film will take whatever it can.

Next week brings us the Ben Affleck crime/thriller The Accountant, Kevin Hart's latest stand-up film What Now? and the teen sci-fi adventure Max Steel.


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