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Weekend Box Office: Fury Tops Gone Girl While Limited Release Birdman Gets Major Buzz

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By Chris Kavan - 10/19/14 at 07:04 PM CT

It was a battle of the R-rated drama this weekend, and while the tank may have topped the mystery, the result was a lot closer than one would have predicted. It wasn't as good of news for the other two wide-release openings, which only did middling to tepid business. But the biggest buzz came from a pair of limited-release openings, which posted some of the most impressive numbers of the year - hopefully their now-guaranteed expansions will continue the trend. Overall, the box office continued to improve upon last year, as the box office was up an impressive 20% compared to last year.


David Ayer's war drama following a tank crew during WWII wound up topping the box office with a $23.5 million. While that total is a bit less than the pre-estimate, which had it pegged at the $25 million mark, it is still a good opening for Brad Pitt and crew. It also represents one of the longest periods where R-rated films have dominated the box office. R-rated films haven't taking the top spot for four weekends in row since 2012 - and it's pretty much a given next week will follow that same pattern. Fury opened about in the same range as Captain Phillips ($25.7 million), Act of Valor ($24.5 million) and The Monuments Men ($22 million) - though a bit lower than fellow R-rated films Gone Girl ($37.5 million) and The Equalizer ($34.1 million). The audience was made up mostly of males (60%) and older (51% over 35). They awarded it a fine "A-" Cinemeascore and the film should be able to at least hit the $75 million mark before it exits theaters.


David Fincher's crime thriller continued to hold strong despite dropping a spot. In its third weekend, Gone Girl dipped a light 33%, and brought in $17.8 million. That was enough to propel is across the $100 million mark, and the film now stands at $107.1 million. That also helped it surpass the last two films from Fincher, as Gone Girl now stands above both The Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - and is still on track to become the director's highest-grossing movie. Given its strong staying power, Gone Girl is looking at a total around the $160 million mark.


The brightly-animated Book of Life opened in third place with $17 million over the weekend. That topped Free Birds ($15.8 million) and is pretty much in line with last month's Box Trolls ($17.3 million). If it follows the same path, it should wind up at around the $50 million mark (also its reported budget) and with international numbers taken into account, should be a minor win for the studio. The audience was made up of mostly female (57%) and 3D accounted for 31% of its sales. Despite the whole "Day of the Dead" angle, Hispanics only made up 30% of the audience - I think this would have been much more had the marketing been focused on that target audience and see it as a missed opportunity.


Coming on the heels of Book of Life, Alexander had a pretty decent hold itself, dropping just over 34% in its second weekend. The live-action family film brought in just over $12 million, giving the film a new total of $36.8 million, easily topping its budget of $28 million. Proving that indeed there is room for at least two family films on the market, Alexander looks in good shape to hit the $60 mark itself.


Turns out not even the romantic drama maestro Nicholas Sparks is infallible. The Best of Me opened to just $10.2 million - or less than half of Safe Haven's $21.4 debut (after burning off a lot of Valentine's Day demand). In fact, Best of Me represents the lowest opening yet for a Sparks adaptation. The main problem seemed to be that the marketing just didn't do a good enough job of laying out the story or the characters (other than is switched between a young couple who find themselves together years later). Eh, I've never been a fan of this type of film anyway, so it wouldn't bother me if it made studios take a step back from the genre. Women, unsurprisingly, made up 70% of the audience, which also skewed younger (56% under 25). They awarded it a "B+" Cinemascore and, given the opening, it's likely to wind up with less than $30 million total.

Outside the top five: It was a homerun for Birdman this weekend, as the Michael Keaton-led comedy/drama skewering the Hollywood industry opened with $415,000 from just four theaters. That boils down to a $103,750 per-theater average - the 9th-best total for a live action movie and the second-best out of any movie of the year behind The Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie is set to expand in the coming weeks - and should go wide sometime in November. We'll see if general audiences will get behind this as much as Grand Budapest (which wound up with $59.1 million).

The other breakout hit was Dear White People, that film opened to $344,000 from 11 locations, which gave it a strong $31,273 per-theater average. The film is sitting pretty at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been making the interview circuit for some time. The movie should also benefit greatly from expansion in the coming weeks.

On the losing end of things, however, was the latest film from Jason Reitman, Men, Women & Children. The film expanded nationwide to 608 theaters, but brought in a terrible $320,000 (or less than what Birdman brought in from four theaters). In fact, the total is the fifth-worst for a film opening in 600+ theaters and the star power of Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Ansel Elgort, Dean Norris and Judy Greer didn't help things one bit. Expect theaters to drop this like a rock and likely earn less than $1 million.

Around the world, Guardians of the Galaxy continues its impressive run. Thanks to a huge opening in China, Guardians has topped Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with $733 million. The film will likely top Maleficent ($757 million) to move up to second place for the year.

Next week we have Keanu Reeves trying his hand as an action star with Wick (hopefully it turns out better than 47 Ronin) as well as the horror film Ouija (just in time for Halloween) and the expansion of the Bill Murray comedy St. Vincent.


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