By Daniel Garris
It was an impressive weekend at the box office, as both Fox's Gone Girl and Warner's Annabelle over-performed in what turned out to be a very tight race for first place between the two new releases. Gone Girl ultimately took first place with $37.51 million, while Annabelle placed in an extremely close second with $37.13 million. The two films were separated by only $378,854 for the frame.
With $37.51 million, Gone Girl exceeded pre-release expectations, which had increased as the film's release neared thanks in part to strong reviews and strong pre-sales. The critically acclaimed David Fincher directed film starring Ben Affleck delivered the tenth largest opening weekend performance of all time for the month of October (without adjusting for ticket price inflation). Gone Girl represented the largest debut ever for Fincher (his previous best being the $30.06 million debut of 2002's Panic Room) and the third largest start ever for Affleck (behind only 2001's Pearl Harbor and 2003's Daredevil). The film opened an impressive 67 percent stronger than the $22.45 million launch of 2010's The Social Network.
Gone Girl opened with $13.18 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.3 million from late night Thursday shows), increased 15 percent on Saturday to gross $15.18 million and declined 40 percent on Sunday to gross $9.63 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.85 to 1. Gone Girl received a so-so B rating on CinemaScore, but the film's strong critical reviews strongly suggest that the film will hold up well going forward.
With $37.13 million, Annabelle exceeded expectations in a big way. Given its lesser expectations and significantly lower price tag than Gone Girl, Annabelle had the more impressive start this weekend. However, it is also highly likely that the low-budget spin-off to The Conjuring won't hold up as well as Gone Girl will going forward. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Annabelle registered the eleventh largest opening weekend ever for the month of October. Annabelle clearly benefited in a big way from the audience goodwill generated by The Conjuring. The film opened just below the respective $41.86 million and $40.27 million starts of The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2.
Annabelle started out in first place on Friday with $15.45 million (which included an estimated $2.1 million from late night shows on Thursday), decreased a very reasonable 9.5 percent on Saturday to take in $13.98 million and declined 45 percent on Sunday to gross $7.70 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.40 to 1, which is encouraging for a horror film. The film's B rating on CinemaScore is also a solid early sign given the film's genre. Annabelle had clear four-quadrant appeal as the audience breakdown for the film was nearly evenly split between genders (51 percent female, 49 percent male) and skewed towards moviegoers under the age of 25 (54 percent).
On the heels of last weekend's strong start, Sony's The Equalizer was down two spots and 45 percent this weekend to place in third with $18.75 million. The Denzel Washington led action thriller had a solid second weekend hold, especially when taking into account the strong debuts of Gone Girl and Annabelle. The Equalizer continues to perform towards the higher end of its lofty expectations with a ten-day take of $64.24 million. That places the film 6 percent ahead of the $60.74 million ten-day gross of 2010's The Book of Eli, which fell 52 percent in its second weekend to gross $15.73 million.
The Boxtrolls held up very nicely in its second weekend with a fourth place take of $11.98 million. The latest stop motion animated film from Focus and Laika was down a slim 31 percent from last weekend. 2009's Coraline and 2012's ParaNorman both displayed terrific holding power and The Boxtrolls is now on course to do the same after this weekend's strong hold. The Boxtrolls has grossed a stronger than expected $32.09 million in ten days, which places the film 14 percent ahead of the $28.26 million ten-day take of ParaNorman (which fell 39 percent in its second weekend to gross $8.64 million).
Fox's The Maze Runner also held up nicely this weekend with a fifth place gross of $11.63 million. The successful young adult adaptation was down just 33 percent from last weekend. The Maze Runner continues to display strong holding power for a young adult adaptation and has grossed a stronger than expected $73.56 million through 17 days of release. Both The Maze Runner and The Boxtrolls appear to have received an added boost this weekend from the Yom Kippur holiday.
Freestyle's Left Behind debuted in sixth place with $6.30 million. The faith based thriller remake starring Nicolas Cage opened towards the lower end of its modest expectations. Left Behind opened 32 percent below the $9.22 million launch of Freestyle's God's Not Dead earlier this year and will be hard pressed to hold up anywhere near as well as God's Not Dead did. Left Behind opened with $2.39 million on Friday, increased a slim 1 percent on Saturday to take in $2.43 million and declined 39 percent on Sunday to gross $1.47 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.63 to 1. Left Behind received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore.
In limited release, Warner's The Good Lie was off to a slow start this weekend with $0.841 million from 461 locations. That gave the Reese Witherspoon led drama a soft per-location average of $1,825 for the frame. The Good Lie certainly wasn't helped out by the break-out performances of Gone Girl and Annabelle this weekend.
On the platform front, Paramount's Men, Women & Children was off to an even more lackluster start with $47,553 from 17 locations. That gave the Jason Reitman directed film featuring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner a per-location average of just $2,797. Men, Women & Children has grossed $60,843 since debuting on Wednesday and after this weekend's disappointing start, will have a tough time going forward as it expands into more locations.