Weekend Box Office (October 24 - 26, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND With Halloween approaching, young women powered the supernatural thriller Ouija to the top of the North American box office with a solid opening of an estimated $20M. Produced for under $5M, the PG-13 chiller based on the creepy game from Hasbro averaged an impressive $7,000 from 2,858 locations.

It's the third horror film in four weeks to deliver strong results, but the first to hit number one. Annabelle and Dracula Untold both debuted in second place and the three films combined have grossed $147.8M to date putting the troubled horror genre in good shape during the all-important Halloween month. Studio research from Universal showed that an incredibly high 75% of the audience was under 25 while 61% was female. A lackluster C CinemaScore grade indicates that paying moviegoers were not too satisfied with their purchase and that declines common for this genre are to come.

Ouija's successful release follows a radical shift in the development of the project. Originally, Michael Bay's production company which turned Hasbro's Transformers property into a multi-billion-dollar franchise was planning a big-budget approach for Ouija. It was later reconceptualized under micro-budget horror king Jason Blum's company as a low-cost, low-risk project aimed at spooking teens and young adults. The domestic gross should finish at eight or nine times the production cost.

For the first time in six years Keanu Reeves made it to the top two spots at the box office landing in second place with the opening of his new action thriller John Wick which debuted to an estimated $14.2M. Averaging a respectable $5,465 from 2,589 theaters including 347 IMAX screens, the brutally violent R-rated entry played mostly to adult men as expected. Studio research from Lionsgate showed that Wick skewed 60% male, and 77% over 25. IMAX screens accounted for $2.5M, or a very high 18% of the gross, and the CinemaScore grade was a decent B.

Reviews were very strong, but audience turnout was nothing too impressive. Football and the World Series provided distractions for this audience over the weekend. Reeves last hit number one with 2008's The Day the Earth Stood Still with $30.5M. But his most recent studio effort - the big-budget 47 Ronin - flopped last Christmas with $14.2M in its first three days, the same as Wick. Since the actor's signature Matrix trilogy ended 11 years ago, he has not had a single $100M+ domestic hit. Lionsgate acquired the film at no cost, however recouping marketing costs for a wide North American release will be no easy task.

Falling back to third place was the Brad Pitt tank drama Fury with an estimated $13M, off 45%. The decline would be moderate for most films, but for this particular pic it was slightly high given the Sony movie's good buzz and older skew. Plus direct competition was not too furious this weekend. Second weekend declines for this month's other star-driven mature-skewing films were 30% for Gone Girl and 40% for The Judge. Budgeted at $68M, Fury has grossed $46.1M so far and could be headed for a finish of about $75M.

Into its fourth weekend, Fox's hit thriller Gone Girl enjoyed the lowest decline of any wide release slipping just 37% to an estimated $11.1M for a new cume of $124.1M. Studio stablemate The Book of Life collected $9.8M, off a reasonable 42% in its sophomore frame, for a total of $29.9M for the animated entry. A final in the $50-60M range seems likely.

The indie comedy St. Vincent starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy expanded nationwide and came in at number six with an estimated $8.1M from 2,282 locations for a mild $3,531 average. Earning good reviews, the PG-13 film from The Weinstein Co. has grossed $9.2M to date.

Disney's family comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day held up well in its second outing dipping 39% to an estimated $7M for a new cume of $45.5M. Tumbling 53% in its second weekend was the Nicholas Sparks romance The Best of Me with an estimated $4.7M and a weak $17.7M to date. Look for a $25M final for the Relativity title.

Robert Downey Jr. dropped to ninth with The Judge which grossed an estimated $4.3M, down 45%, giving Warner Bros. $34.4M overall. Collecting the same weekend estimate was the horror entry Dracula Untold which stumbled 57% thanks to new fright competition. Universal is now sitting at $48.3M domestic and $166M worldwide.

Among notable specialty releases, Michael Keaton's Birdman expanded from four to 50 theaters and grossed an estimated $1.4M for a strong $28,720 average following its monster platform debut in New York and Los Angeles last weekend. Fox Searchlight's cume is now $2.1M and the distributor will widen again on Friday to the Top 60 markets with a total of nearly 250 locations with more to come in November. Birdman is currently on the shortlist of many industry insiders to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

On the documentary side, the Edward Snowden film Citizenfour debuted in five theaters this weekend grossing an estimated $125,000 for a solid $25,000 average. Earning sensational reviews, the Radius release platformed in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. this weekend and will expand on Friday to Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago. By Thanksgiving, the political doc expects to be playing nationwide.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $96.5M which was up 4% from last year when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa opened at number one with $32.1M; and up 29% from 2012 when Argo returned to the top spot with $12.1M.

Compared to projections, both Ouija and John Wick opened very close to my respective forecasts of $19M and $15M.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Read the NEW Blu-ray review for Snowpiercer.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when the dark films Nightcrawler, Before I Go To Sleep, and the re-release of Saw all open on Halloween Day.

# Title Oct 24 - 26 Oct 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Ouija $ 19,875,995 2,858 1 $ 6,955 $ 19,875,995 Universal
2 John Wick 14,415,922 2,589 1 5,568 14,415,922 Lionsgate
3 Fury 13,356,718 23,702,421 -43.6 3,173 2 4,209 46,407,146 Sony
4 Gone Girl 11,044,357 17,511,956 -36.9 3,106 4 3,556 124,037,579 Fox
5 The Book of Life 10,049,271 17,005,218 -40.9 3,113 2 3,228 30,162,720 Fox
6 St. Vincent 7,746,596 665,584 2,282 3 3,395 8,877,553 Weinstein Co.
7 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible... 7,197,217 11,456,954 -37.2 3,117 3 2,309 45,718,836 Disney
8 The Best of Me 4,623,519 10,003,827 -53.8 2,936 2 1,575 17,550,193 Relativity
9 Dracula Untold 4,395,945 9,988,530 -56.0 2,364 3 1,860 48,421,335 Universal
10 The Judge 4,366,039 7,916,418 -44.8 2,610 3 1,673 34,398,108 Warner Bros.
11 Annabelle 3,350,090 7,878,300 -57.5 2,505 4 1,337 79,501,131 Warner Bros.
12 The Equalizer 2,774,825 5,382,353 -48.4 1,636 5 1,696 93,750,101 Sony
13 The Maze Runner 2,352,349 4,387,445 -46.4 1,496 6 1,572 94,122,442 Fox
14 Addicted 1,496,874 3,472,423 -56.9 956 3 1,566 15,333,576 Lionsgate
15 Birdman 1,379,640 424,397 225.1 50 2 27,593 2,010,081 Fox Searchlight
16 Dear White People 1,254,245 347,959 260.5 382 2 3,283 1,697,716 Roadside Attr.
17 The Boxtrolls 929,838 2,700,343 -65.6 1,107 5 840 47,608,204 Focus
18 Guardians of the Galaxy 554,531 959,912 -42.2 402 13 1,379 328,650,120 Disney
19 23 Blast 401,897 617 1 651 401,897 Ocean Ave.
20 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 375,537 525,534 -28.5 300 12 1,252 190,115,983 Paramount
Top 5 $ 68,742,263 $ 79,680,376 -13.7
Top 10 97,071,579 115,233,422 -15.8
Top 20 111,941,405 126,464,254 -11.5
Top 20 vs. 2013 111,941,405 99,038,828 13.0

Last Updated: October 26, 2014 at 4:50PM ET

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