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Weekend Box Office: Ouija Conjures Up a Win, John Wick Burns Steady

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By Chris Kavan - 10/26/14 at 08:51 PM CT

It was the last full weekend in October and it has been a very good month for 2014. The top 12 films brought in $102.7 million - up 8% from the same period last year - and with a little under a week to go, it is already the highest-grossing October on record. Thanks to strong R-rated appeal from Gone Girl, Fury and now John Wick, the box office was driven mainly by adults (for a change) though that's not to say they were the only factor. While that looks great, it's still hard to remove the sting from the lackluster summer, but we'll see if the remaining fall and winter months can continue to turn things around.


Tis the season for horror. With Halloween just days away, it would come as little shock to see a horror film take the top spot at the box office. While I don't think Ouija looked particularly impressive, it managed to open with $20 million, which is, surprisingly, the second-biggest opening for a horror movie this year, just topping Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ($18.3 million). It's also running ahead of previous October horror films Sinister ($18 million) and Carrie ($16.1 million). The PG-13 rating and fresh-faced cast drove in a younger audience - 75% of which was under 25 and also drew in a mostly female (61%) audience - kind of an anomaly for horror, but which worked to its advantage. Granted, like almost all horror movies, this will be front-loaded and the "C" Cinemeascore isn't likely to draw in repeat or word-of-mouth viewers. The film is likely to finish right around $40 million - though it may get a bump for Halloween crowds this week - after that, though, expect it to disappear quickly.


Given Keanu Reeves' track record as of late, it was no wonder the buzz surrounding John Wick was muted or negative going into the weekend. However, a series of strong reviews for this straight-up action flick, along with a nice push in IMAX, helped John Wick open to respectable $14.15 million over the weekend. While it couldn't put up Equalizer numbers ($34.1 million), this much more modest endeavor managed to outdo A Walk Among the Tombstones ($12.8 million) and 3 Days to Kill ($12.2 million). It also killed in IMAX with a $2.5 million haul (or 18% of its total). The audience was decidedly male (60%) and mostly older (77% over 25) and they awarded it a "B" Cinemascore - a bit low compared to the reviews, but still positive overall. John Wick is going to shortly face some stiff competition, and because of that, it is also likely to top out at around the $40 million mark. Still, it's likely to do better than 47 Ronin, an on a fraction of but budget.


Despite some good reviews and audience reaction, Fury took a steeper-than-expected 45% hit in its second weekend, dropping to 3rd place with $13 million. That puts the wartime tank action/drama at $46.05 million and now looks to top out at $70 million - just a smidgen above its $68 budget. It's going to have to rely on foreign markets to make it truly a winner, but it should get enough help to put it firmly in the black - though I think with the star power and director involved, it should have held on to more of an audience.


Looking in much better shape than its fellow R-rated competition, David Fincher's Gone Girl dipped 37% - representing its steepest drop yet (still the lowest drop for any film in the top 10) - but still brought in $11.1 million. The film is just under the $125 million mark with $124.1 million and there is now no doubt this will become FIncher's highest-grossing movie of his career, as it will in short order surpass The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) and still looks on course for a nearly $150 million return.


The colorful animated film dropped just over 42% in its second weekend and brought in $9.8 million for a new total of just under $30 million. That's a bit steep for an animated film (in comparison, The Boxtrolls dipped just 31% in its second weekend) and the film is likely going to wind up around its reported budget - $50 million.

Outside the top five: The Bill Murray comedy St. Vincent added over 2200 theaters to its count and jumped from 15th to 6th place with $8.06 million. Despite the impressive cast, the film is most likely going to be a sleeper and we'll have to see if the film can build some buzz into a modest hit - a good total would be in the $25-$30 million range.

It has really been a tough call for faith-based films this year - while some have proven to be major hits, some have fallen flat on their faces (Left Behind, anyone?). We'll add 23 Blast - a faith-based football drama - into the negative category. Opening in 617 theaters, the film took in just $402,000 - for a wretched $652-per-theaters average - one of the worst on record.

On the other hand, Birdman and Dear White People both expanded and jumped five spots in the process. Birdman went from 20th to 15th place with $1.43 million ($28,720 per-theater average from still just 50 theaters) while Dear White People went from 21st to 16th place with $1.31 million. Both are likely to see more expansion in the future, with Birdman still riding a wave of awards-season hype.

Next weekend we are gifted with Jake Gyllenhaal in yet another R-rated crime drama (following an unscrupulous L.A. freelance journalist) in Nightcrawler - which has been going into market overdrive. On the other hand, I've heard next to nothing about Before I Go to Sleep, despite having Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong on board - this mystery/thriller is also rated R. We'll see if November can keep the good times rolling.


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