Here’s what happened at the domestic box office this weekend: Gone Girl repeated atop the chart, contributing to a lower-than-expected opening for Robert Downey, Jr.’s The Judge in the process. Universal’s plans to revive its classic monsters got off to a good start with Dracula Untold, helped out a bit by Imax, while Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day won big with families. Annabelle somehow avoided the typical big second weekend drop for a horror movie, and a documentary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints dang near cracked the top 10. Elsewhere, Guardians of the Galaxy finally made its way to China, but didn’t open as big as you might have expected. Let’s do the numbers:
Top 10 Estimated Domestic Totals (10/10-10/12)
1. Gone Girl
- Weekend Gross=$26.8 million (-29% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$78.2 million
- Budget=$61 million
Foreign: $27m this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $62.1m/$140.3m
A continuation of the recent trend of big hit awards-contenders in October, Gone Girl couldn’t match the amazing second-weekend holds of Argo (-15%) and Gravity (-23%), but it did actually hold better than Captain Phillips (-36%). As a result, it has a shot at eventually eclipsing director David Fincher’s higher water mark for domestic gross, 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127m). All of this despite three other films opening wide this weekend, including Robert Downey, Jr.’s The Judge, which courted pretty much the exact same adult audience. Gone Girl has simply turned into a “Must See” movie right now just so you can see what all the buzz is about (or are tired of faking your way through conversations about it).
2. Dracula Untold (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$23.4 million
- Budget=$70 million
Foreign: Dracula Untold opened to just under $30m from 25 territories last weekend. It added 17 new territories this weekend, opening at #1 in 9 of them, most notably Russia where it had the biggest opening for a 2D film in 2014. So, from the 42 territories it was playing in this weekend Dracula Untold made $33.6m, upping its international total to $62.6m and worldwide to $86m
It’s a pretty straight-forward pitch, really: Dracula Untold is the “untold” origin story of Vlad Tepes, the 15th century Romanian ruler who partially inspired Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula. However, instead of a gritty historical biopic about a man thought of as a folk hero in Romania but a monster in the rest of the world Dracula Untold is the Dracula story by way of video games like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. It is meant to be the beginning of a new cinematic universe built around new versions of Universal’s classic movie monsters, and they entrusted this all-important first step to someone making his directorial debut (Gary Shore) and a leading man (Luke Evans) mostly known for his world class brooding in the most recent Hobbit. Luckily, they kept the budget manageable meaning an opening north of $20m is considered a victory, especially with how well it’s playing overseas. This is clearly a far more successful effort to re-contextualize a classic character than Lionsgate’s I, Frankenstein earlier this year, which only made $71m worldwide form its entire theatrical run. Dracula Untold owes much of its success to males (54%), Latinos (31%), and a boost from Imax prices (17%).
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$19.1 million
- Budget=$28 million
Foreign: Alexander is staggering its foreign releases into January, with the only notable territories getting the movie this weekend being Mexico and Russia. Altogether, it pulled in $3.2m overseas for a worldwide debut of $22.3m
Adapted from Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book about a family suffering through a horrible day (the plot is pretty much in the title, isn’t it?), Alexander played predictably huge with families, accounting for 67% of its business. This helped give it the biggest opening for a live-action adaptation of a children’s book since the second Diary of a Wimpy Kid film in 2011, which opened with $23.7m on the way to a $52.6m domestic total. Disney seems pretty happy with it, telling THR, “Amid a sea of darker genre fare, this movie is a lighter alternative and we are set up for a long, profitable run.”
- Weekend Gross=$16.3 million (-56% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$62.1 million
- Budget=$6.5 million
Foreign: $27m this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $60.3m/$122.4m. WB claims Annabelle’s international biz is currently tracking 5% ahead of The Conjuring, which ended with $180m overseas.
Last weekend’s big opening for Annabelle could be partially attributed to the good-will audiences had toward anything Conjuring-related, which came out recently enough so as to be relatively fresh in our memories. However, based on dreadful reviews and a weak CinemaScore grade you could have expected Annabelle to drop big this weekend, but a 56% second weekend hold is actually pretty darn good for a horror movie. It’s certainly better than recent horror sequels like Insidious: Chapter 2 (-66%) and The Purge: Anarchy (-64%) or a spin-off like Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (-66%), though not nearly as good as The Conjuring (-44%). This being October, though, there is direct competition on the way in two weeks from supernatural horror flick Ouija (10/24). However, that’s of little concern when Annabelle has made 18 times over its production budget in just 10 days.
5. The Judge (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$13.3 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: Debuting in just Australia and 6 smaller territories, The Judge netted a mere $1.6m which when combined with its domestic total makes for a worldwide debut of $14.9m
Robert Downey, Jr. worked tirelessly to promote The Judge, the first film from the new production company (Team Downey) he runs with his wife. However, just because he’s Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes doesn’t mean any movie Downey does is guaranteed a big opening. How much audience cross-over is there with Iron Man 3 and an awards-hopeful about a father (Downey) and son (Robert Duvall) working out their issues in court? I’ll let Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution take it from here. This is what he told THR about The Judge‘s opening:
“We’re a little disappointed in the results for The Judge, since we were hoping to do at least $15 million. I’m very pleased with the CinemaScore [A-], though, and good word of mouth can put us back in the game. Our audience was notably older, with 50 percent over the age of 50, and 71 percent over the age of 35. Sometimes, the older audience kicks in the second weekend.”
6. The Equalizer
- Weekend Gross=$9.7 million (-49% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$79.8 million
- Budget=$55 million
Foreign: $11.5m from 86 territories this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $57.1m/$136.9m
Denzel Washington has somehow gone his entire career without ever appearing in a sequel, but that might soon change since the current buzz is that an Equalizer sequel is in development. This could become Denzel’s Taken, for better or worse.
7. Addicted (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$7.6 million
- Budget=They’d rather not say
Foreign: No international biz yet
Addicted is a steamy thriller about a successful, African-American mother of three (Sharon Leal) who steps outside her marriage to engage in a series of affairs, the story being adapted from a best-selling novel of the same name. It immediately calls to mind Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, another story about an African-American woman quickly regretting her decision to have an affair. They even have vaguely similar movie posters:
Well, Temptation had the Tyler Perry brand recognition to help carry it to a $21m opening early last year, carried almost exclusively by African-American women. Addicted’s $7.6m opening is clearly not as impressive, but it played to a similar audience, 72% African-American, 72% female. In fact, it actually had the best per-theater-average of any film in the top 20, with $8,983 per each of its 846 theaters. It remains to be seen if it can hold up when it expands to over 1,000 theaters next weekend.
8. The Maze Runner
- Weekend Gross=$7.5 million (-36% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$83.8 million
- Budget=$34 million
Foreign: $13.7m from 62 territories this weekend for a international/worldwide split of $139.8m/$223.6m
2014 has given us two new YA film franchises, Maze Runner and Divergent. Interestingly, The Maze Runner is now a bigger international hit than Divergent ($137.8m), and it still has China to go later this month. Plus, it cost $51m less to make. Of course, it’s still really far behind and won’t come close to Divergent‘s domestic total ($150m).
9. The Boxtrolls
- Weekend Gross=$6.6 million (-44% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$41 million
- Budget=$60 million
Foreign: $3.6m from 26 territories this weekend for a new international/worldwide spit of $31.8m/$72.8m.
Portlan, Oregon-based stop-go animation company Laika’s path to success in the past has been for its movies to have modest openings but stellar word-of-mouth translating to healthy theatrical runs. That may not be what ends up happening with Boxtrolls, whose 44% third weekend drop is double the third-weekend drops experienced by Paranorman and Coraline. Alexander and The… clearly ate into Boxtroll‘s family business this weekend, and things could get even worse with far more direct competition from Guillermo Del Toro’s animated Book of Life next weekend. The result is that Boxtrolls could fade faster than initially expected, still at least approach Paranorman‘s domestic total ($56m) but come nowhere near Coraline’s ($75.2m). After Boxtrolls pleasant opening weekend, though, Laika received a 3-picture extension from its distributor, Focus Features. So, there’s that.
10. Left Behind
- Weekend Gross=$2.9 million (-54% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$10.9 million
- Budget=$16 million
Foreign: No international biz yet
Kirk Cameron starred in a series of cheap-looking, direct-to-video adaptations of the Left Behind novel series about life on Earth after the rapture. This reboot starring Nichols Cage was an effort to take a second crack at the story with a bigger budget, but it has turned into the biggest turkey of 2014’s most high-profile faith-based films.
What Happened Outside the Top 10?:
This Is Where I Lave You (#7 to #13), Dolphin Tale 2 (#8 to #14), Guardians of the Galaxy (#9 to #12), and No Good Deed (#10 to #15) all left the top 10 while the documentary Meet the Mormons (about several separate Mormon families) came out of nowhere to finish the weekend with $2.7m, just barely outside the top 10. Meet the Mormons was backed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and its net proceeds will go to the American Red Cross and LDS. It only played in 317 theaters, scoring the second best per-theater-average ($8,517) of the weekend’s top 25 films. However, its box office totals are a bit tricky because it was targeted directly at Mormons, and it turns out that LSD members don’t see movies on Sunday. So, almost all of its business will end up having come from Fri-Sat.
How Did Guardians of the Galaxy Do In China?:
Guardians finally opened in China on Friday (10/10), and Disney is reporting that it made $26.6m on the weekend, good enough to be #1 in China’s Top 10 as well as the biggest October opening in China’s history. That still trails the openings for Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the territory. To be fair, though, this was a strange weekend in China in which Saturday was actually designated a working day, which couldn’t have helped movie attendance. This opening was good enough to instantly make China Guardians‘ third leading international market, behind the UK and Russia, and helped up its total international gross to $361m. That still trails the international totals for 2014’s other big comic book movies, Days of Future Past ($512m), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($505m), and Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($464m). That’s not an entirely fair comparison, though, since each one of those is a sequel whereas Guardians is merely the start as opposed to continuation of a franchise. Worldwide, Guardians is up to $687m, good enough to be the 7th biggest film of 2014 to this point.
Going forward in China is going to be tough for Guardians considering that Hercules, The Maze Runner, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all debut in the country in the next couple of weeks. Each film (including Guardians) will be granted a four-week release and then yanked from theaters as China pumps out nothing but home grown films for the rest of the year.
What’s Up Next?:
Nichols Sparks’ latest comes along in Best of Me, starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. The most recent Sparks film, Safe Haven, grossed a healthy $71m domestic early last year. Guillermo del Toro’s animatedThe Book of Life, which he produced and Jorge R. Guiterrez co-wrote and directed, looks to bring a slice of Mexican culture to the masses with a plot and visual design inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, and Channing Tatum provide the main voices. Finally, Brad Pitt follows his best bud George Clooney’s lead and does his own WWII flick, Fury.