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Weekend Box Office: Gone Girl Edges Out Annabelle in Thrilling Debuts

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By Chris Kavan - 10/05/14 at 07:47 PM CT

The weekend was a monster - and I'm not just talking about that scary doll. With Gone Girl and Annabelle both posting impressive numbers, this weekend was the biggest October weekend on record - and up a fantastic 23% compared to last year (when Gravity opened to $55 million). The two films led the way, but the also-rans also scored some strong week-to-week numbers, which was another big factor in keeping the box office strong. Hopefully this represents the norm and not an anomaly going into the coming fall weekends.


David Fincher's latest thriller scored the weekend's top spot with a $38 million opening. That represent the best opening yet for the director, topping his previous best Panic Room, which opened to $30.05 million back in 2002. It was also good news for lead actor Ben Affleck, as Gone Girl was his biggest opening since Daredevil ($40 million) back in 2003. The movie was classic Fincher - a lot of drama, a bit of wicked humor and lots of star power. The fact it was based on a wildly successful novel from author Gillian Flynn just helped things along that much more. In terms of similar releases, it was behind Shutter Island ($41.06 million) but topped fellow October releases The Social Network ($22.4 million), Argo ($19.4 million) and Captain Phillips ($25.7 million). Audiences were made up of mostly older (75% over 25) and female (60%) crowds. They awarded it just a so-so "B" Cinemascore, but much like the much-maligned Wolf of Wall Street - this film should have no problem overcoming a somewhat lukewarm reception. All signs point to this becoming Fincher's highest-grossing movie yet, as it should be able to top The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) before it ends its run.


Coming in at a very close second place (and some are even saying when final number are released it may even sneak into the top spot), The Conjuring spin-off/prequel Annabelle managed to scare up an impressive $37.2 million debut. Coming in as the first horror movie of October, Annabelle spun its Conjuring roots to full steam - the marketing effort has been quite strong for this one - and that drive paid off. The movie opened to a sixth-best opening for a supernatural horror film, coming in just behind The Conjuring ($41.9 million) and Insidious Chapter 2 ($40.3 million). The best news for Annabelle, however, was that the Friday opening represented just 42% of its grosses - horror films tend to be incredibly front-loaded (Paranormal Activity and the Insidiious films usually burn up 50% or more of its grosses on Friday ). This means Annabelle could hold on stronger than a typical horror offering. Audiences were younger (54% under 25) and was evenly split between men and women (also unusually for horror - and also a good sign that it will hold up better). The film is looking at topping the $75 million mark with ease and could wind up over $80 million in the long run.


Denzel Washington's crime thriller had a pretty decent second-weekend hold. The Equalizer dipped 44% to bring in $19 million for a new total of $64.5 million. That helped it blow past its $55 million budget. The drop is right in line with Non-Stop (45% drop) and fellow TV adaptation 21 Jump Street (44%). Given its nice hold, Equalizer is eying a $100-plus finish in the coming weeks.


The animated film from Laika Animation also did some solid second-weekend number, falling a light 28%. In comparison, ParaNorman dipped 39% in its second weekend. The film took in $12.43 million for a new total of $32.5 million. It should equal or surpass its $60 million budget by the end of its run.


Another film that continues to hold well, The Maze Runner was off just 31% after three weeks - another strong hold for the YA genre. It took in $12 million giving it a new total of $74 million and is still well on its way to earning $100 million and could nearly triple its $34 million budget before it exits theaters.

Outside the top five: Despite opening to some of the most scathing reviews of the year, Nicolas Cage and his Left Behind crew still managed to open in 6th place with $6.85 million. While that isn't quite up to the standards of God's Not Dead ($9.2 million on just 800 screens) considering how badly the film was massacred by critics, it turned out much better than I would have anticipated.

Another thriller, No Good Deed, took in $2.5 million (10th place) and crossed the $50 million mark in the process for a total of $50.1 million.

Reece Witherspoon is getting some early rave review for Wild (which drops December 12th) but that didn't help the reception of The Good Lie, which opened in limited release in 461 theaters, but brought in just $935,000 for an anemic $2,028-per-theater average. Given the opening, Warner Bros. isn't likely to expand this one much in the coming weeks and it will probably wind up with less than $10 million by the time its done.

Next week brings us the super-dramatic chops of Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge, we also have the family-friendly live action (and super long titled) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, plus another horror film in Dracula Untold and finally a based-on-a-true-story crime drama Kill the Messenger. It's going to get crowded - but I have a feeling Gone Girl is still going to reign supreme.


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