Here’s what happened at the domestic box office this weekend: Gone Girl and Annabelle helped turned this is into the biggest ever in the month of October. Plus, Left Behind with Nicholas Cage was a thing that happened, and over 800,000 people went to see it. Let’s do the numbers:
Top 10 Estimated Domestic Totals (10/3-10/5)
1. Gone Girl (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$38 million
- Budget=$61 million
Foreign: $24.5m this weekend for worldwide debut of $62.5m
Gone Girl is adapted from Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel about a dude (Ben Affleck) suspected of actually killing his mysteriously missing wife (Rosamund Pike), and it debuted to “It’s good, but is it Oscar good?” responses at the New York Film Festival. This is oddly the third straight October to feature a new Ben Affleck movie. It didn’t work out so well last year for Runner Runner whereas the year before that it quite possibly couldn’t have gone any better for Argo, which eventually won Best Picture to go along with its $136m domestic/$232m worldwide gross. Well, it remains to be seen what happens with Gone Girl come awards season, but it’s already well ahead of Argo financially (Argo only made $19m in its opening weekend). It’s also the best opening of director David Fincher’s career, besting Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($27m) and Panic Room ($30m).
It’s a good start, propelled by Affleck’s relentless appearances on the interview circuit in recent weeks as well as the devoted fanbases of Fincher and Flynn, who converted her own book and changed its unpopular ending for the film’s screenplay. It also continues the recent trend of big hits in early October, with 2012 giving us Argo and last year delivering the one-two punch of Gravity and Captain Phillips. The problem for Gone Girl, though, is that it doesn’t appear to be as well-liked as those three, all of which stuck around in theaters for quite a while. Gone Girl‘s B grade on CinemaScore indicates it could end up being a bit more front-loaded, but this is probably one of those times where you should just completely ignore CinemaScore. People may not like the film (or, more specifically, its ending) once they see it, but the anecdotal buzz is that you still have to see it.
2. Annabelle (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$37.2 million
- Budget=They’d rather not say
Foreign: $23m this weekend for worldwide debut of $60.2m
2014 has been a bad year for horror movies, at least at the box office. We witnessed the potential bottoming out of the Paranormal Activity franchise, and countless micro-budget affairs failed to deliver headline-grabbing opening weekends the way similar films have in recent years. Sure, The Purge: Anarchy must have turned a ridiculous profit, making $71m domestic/$108m worldwide against a $9m production budget. However, it’s debatable whether or not The Purge is really even a horror franchise, more like a horror/action/thriller hybrid. People killing each other on the streets for one night only? That’s horror-ish, I guess. A creepy, haunted doll wreaks havoc on a poor family? Now, that’s more like it.
That, of course, brings us to Annabelle. The Conjuring stunned Hollywood with its $41m opening in July 2013 on the way to an amazing total gross of $137m domestic/$318m worldwide. Obviously, a sequel was a no-brainer, especially since the film has multiple other case files from real-life demonologists The Warrens to look at for potential story ideas. However, WB wasn’t content with just doing a sequel; they rushed this Annabelle spin-off into production even though anyone who’s actually seen The Conjuring knows that movie brilliantly covered that creepy doll’s history in its opening act. What more story was there to tell?
Not much, or at least that seems to be what the critics are saying, giving the film a damning 32% on RottenTomatoes. The Conjuring was the rare horror movie to do well financially but also be loved by critics. Now, its spin-off is the more traditional case of a horror film to open big despite scathing reviews. In fact, Annabelle just had the 6th biggest opening for a supernatural horror film, trailing the likes of The Grudge, Insidious Chapter 2, Paranormal Activity 2 and 3. It seems likely to suffer a big drop next weekend, though, if its not-great-for-a-horror-movie CinemaScore grade of B is any indication.
3. The Equalizer
- Weekend Gross=$19 million (-44.3% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$64.5 million
- Budget=$55 million
Foreign: $13m from over 70 territories this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $39.6m/$104.1m
It’s a full week later now, and there are still some who can’t fully understand why The Equalizer, with its poor reviews and apparent non-existent buzz, had one of the best opening weekends the month of September has ever seen. Sony’s efforts to court African Americans via the placement of an exclusive Eminem song on the soundtrack as well as endorsements from professional athletes (Michael Strahan, Dwight Howard, and Tiger Woods) certainly paid some dividends. However, that alone doesn’t get you to nearly $35m in your opening weekend. Denzel Washington’s name above the title did that.
In an age of the brand-as-the-selling-point Denzel has been the only one to consistently keep the old model of the movie-star-as-the-selling-point alive. If you discount The Great Debaters since he’s just a supporting character in that, Denzel’s now had 12-straight movie open north of $20m. For older audiences who remember the movie star days of the 90s, a new Denzel movie can always be counted on for a certain level of quality and entertainment. Simply put, Denzel is his own brand, helped considerably the fact that to this point in his career he’s never ventured over into comic book territory (technically, 2 Guns is a graphic novel-adaptation, though). Oddly enough, Equalizer actually appears to be the beginning of a franchise, with a sequel already in development. This could become Denzel’s Taken, which may not actually be the best thing for him. Either way, Equalizer is looking set to end up around $100m.
4. The Boxtrolls
- Weekend Gross=$12.4 million (-28.1% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$32.5 million
- Budget=$60 million
Foreign: $6m from 22 territories this weekend for a new international/worldwide spit of $26m/$58.5m.
Portlan, Oregon-based Laika’sThe Boxtrolls scored the company its’ best opening ever last weekend, ahead of Paranorman ($14m) and Coraline ($16.58m). It was good enough that this past week Focus Features renewed its partnership with Laika for three more films. So, it would have been really embarrassing if Boxtrolls had taken a nosedive at the box office this weekend. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead, it held better than Paranorman (-38.7%) but not as strong as Coraline (-12.3%). Based on that, you’d guess Boxtrolls will end up making more than Paranorman ($56m) but not as much as Coraline ($75.2m). It’ll need to keep that pace up next weekend, though, because in two weeks it faces direct competition from Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous, buzzy animation spectacular The Book of Life.
5. The Maze Runner
- Weekend Gross=$12 million (-31.2% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$73.9 million
- Budget=$34 million
Foreign: $16.5m from 61 territories this weekend for a international/worldwide split of $118.4m/$192.3m
Maze Runner is not putting up anything remotely near Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games numbers, but it’s not hitting the near record-setting lows of Vampire Academy, Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, and The Host nor the “we might just barely break even” biz of The Giver. Instead, it is quite simply a very profitable film with a worldwide gross nearly 6 times the size of its budget at this point. That’s nearly the double the return on investment Divergent saw from its $85m budget earlier this year. More importantly, though, Hollywood can relax a little because 2014 has brought it 2 new YA franchises to milk, Maze Runner and Divergent.
6. Left Behind (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$6.8 million
- Budget=$16 million
Foreign: No international biz yet
I was once forced to watch the Kirk Cameron Left Behind film at my Catholic high school. Well, no one was forcing people to see this rebooted version of Left Behind starring Nicholas Cage, yet it sold just over 822,000 tickets this weekend. The Left Behind novels, which basically tell what happens on Earth after the rapture, have spawned multiple films and graphic novels, emerging as practical required reading for certain Christians around a decade ago. However, the hokey Kirk Cameron film adaptations went straight to video, and this new film treatment was an attempt to re-tell the story but with a bigger budget. The result is actually one of the weaker debuts among 2014’s run of faith-based films, better than Mom’s Night Out ($4m), just a bit behind God’s Not Dead ($9m) but not in the same league as Heaven Is For Real ($22m) and Son of God (25m).
7. This Is Where I Leave You
- Weekend Gross=$4 million (-42% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$29 million
- Budget=$19.8 million
Foreign: No international box office yet
This Is Where I Leave You, Warner Bros.’ star-studded adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s beloved novel, played predominantly to the demographic (older women) that will usually grant a film an admirably long life beyond a ho-hum opening weekend. That happened for Hundred-Foot Journey earlier this year, which opened with just $11m but ended with $52m. This Is Where I Leave You is falling off at a faster pace, though, and will be lucky to sniff $50m.
8. Dolphin Tale 2
- Weekend Gross=$3.5 million (-26.3% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$37.9 million
- Budget=$36 million
Foreign: Overall, $3m in very limited international release for a worldwide total of $41m
You know how Disney makes tons of sequels most people never even hear about because they go straight to video? That’s probably what should have happened with Dolphin Tale 2, which is pretty clearly a sequel that not enough people actually asked for, kind of like Free Willy 2 back in the 90s. Free Willy wasn’t actually a Disney movie; it was made by Warner Bros, but just go with me here (all following numbers are domestic):
- The first Free Willy grossed $77m in 1993
- Free Willy 2 pulled in just $30m in 1995
Well, the first Dolphin Tale finished with $72m in 2011, and now its sequel isn’t going to get too much higher than $40m in 2014. Dolphin Tale has held better than the Free Willy franchise, but both dropped off more than you’d be comfortable with. Oddly, they made a third Free Willy which bottomed out with just $3m in 1997. It’d be surprising if a third Dolphin Tale ever made it into theaters.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy
- Weekend Gross=$3 million (-19.4% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$323.3 million
- Budget=$170 million
Foreign: $2.4m this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $330m/$653.7m.
This is Guardians’ 10th straight weekend in the top 10. That’s nice and all, but the real thing everyone is watching is just how well Guardians will do when it opens in China on October 10. With the boost from the world’s second biggest market for film, surely Guardians’ worldwide numbers will end up being bigger than Days of Future Past, Winter Soldier, and Amazing Spider-Man 2. However, China has its own homegrown movie, Breakup Buddies, which just made nearly $40m in its opening weekend, and will be tough competition next weekend. Plus, beyond Guardians there are three other Hollywood movies scheduled to debut in China in the next three weeks, and no one from Guardians has traveled to promote the film in China Still, it’s a Marvel Studios movie – it should do just fine.
10. No Good Deed
- Weekend Gross=$2.5 million (-44.6% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$50.1 million
- Budget=$13.2 million
Foreign: Overall, just barely over $1m from very limited international release for a worldwide total of $51.3m
No Good Deed turned out to be a pretty front-loaded little film, making just about half of its total domestic gross in its opening weekend. However, that’s okay when your opening weekend ($24.5m) dang near doubles your production budget ($13.2m).
What Happened Outside the Top 10?:
A Walk Among the Tombstones (#7 to #11), Let’s Be Cops (#9 to #15), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (#10 to #14) quietly left the top 10. Walk Among the Tombstones always looked like a bit of a tough sell (too gritty, coming too soon after Liam Neeson’s last action movie, direct competition from The Equalizer, etc.), but it’s still surprising to see it out of the top 10 in just its third weekend. Its domestic run hasn’t even cracked $25m yet. The weakest performer of Neeson’s action renaissance prior to this point, The Grey, at least made $50m domestic. There is still plenty of international play left to go for Tombstones, but with Taken 3 pretty much right around the corner we will rather quickly see if Tombstones is just a blip on the radar or a warning sign that audiences have grown tired of Neeson’s shtick.
What About Lucy?:
Although Lucy‘s domestic run is over ($125m) it is still adding new foreign markets, pushing its international gross up to $280m and crossing $400m worldwide ($406m). As of right now, that makes it the 12th highest grossing film of 2014, better than Edge of Tomorrow but behind The LEGO Movie.
What’s Up Next?:
The Judge, Dracula Untold, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Gone Girl each open wide on Friday (10/10). The Judge is Robert Downey, Jr.’s first real step outside of Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes territory in quite a while, and the advertising mostly makes it seem like, “Watch Tony Stark defend his mean dad in court.” Dracula Untold is the start of Universal’s risky plans to build its own cinematic universe focused on new versions of the old Universal monsters, and Alexander and the Ridiculously Long Title could be an option for families, parents showing up for Steve Carell and kids showing up because every single show they watch on Disney, Cartoon Network, etc. has had a commercial for the movie.