On a relatively quiet pre-Halloween weekend, teen horror flick Ouija reigned. Based on the Hasbro toys property and released by Universal, Ouija took in an estimated $20 million from 2,858 locations for first place. John Wick was second with $14.1 million. While not quite at the level of recent R-rated fare like The Equalizer and Fury, the male-skewing action pic did manage to top last month’s A Walk Among the Tombstones – and its own pre-release projections.
|5.||The Book of Life||$9,800,000||$29.9|
|7.||Alexander and Terrible…||$7,023,000||$45.5|
|8.||The Best of Me||$4,736,000||$17.6|
Full story after the jump.
Ouija came out pretty much in line with expectations for its first weekend. Granted, the film’s expectations were on the low-side for a would-be franchise horror pic opening the week before Halloween, but considering how hard Ouija is getting slammed by critics and audiences alike, $20 million for a film that cost a reported $3 million seems like a happy ending for Hasbro.
In terms of critical response, the PG-13 horror pic has a current Rotten Tomato rating of 10 percent. Just a handful of movies (Vampire Academy and I, Frankenstein among them) have scored lower this year. Of course, critics don’t play a big role in determining the success of horror films – especially on opening weekend. A Halloween staple for most of the last decade, the Saw franchise was no critical darling; and yet four consecutive films in the series opened above $30 million, starting with Saw II in 2005.
Clearly, audiences drive box office receipts, which is where Ouija runs into a big problem. The horror movie received a discouraging ‘C’ CinemaScore from audiences. It is possible to score lower (at this time last year, Ridley Scott’s The Counselor got a D CinemaScore) but it is certainly not a good omen. Carrie, last year’s Halloween horror entry, received a B- from audiences and ended up grossing just over $35 million by the end of its domestic run. On the other hand there’s The Devil Inside – one of only eight films to ever receive an ‘F’ CinemaScore. Back in January 2012, The Devil Inside opened with $33.7 million – a big number for a non-franchise feature. One week later the R-rated horror pic was down 76% and ended its run with just over $53 million.
Based on it’s opening weekend estimate (already lower than Friday numbers indicated), Ouija will likely end up between Carrie and The Devil Inside. After the triumph of Annabelle earlier this month (the film has earned just under $80 million in four weeks), that’s a disappointment. Clearly, Ouija is not going to take its place alongside Saw and Paranormal Activity as the next big Halloween franchise; but thanks to that tiny budget it will still come out a box office winner.
Speaking of box office winners, did you hear that Keanu Reeves is back? The star of The Matrix trilogy actually returned to the action genre last year with the big budget (and low grossing) 47 Ronin, but why let facts get in the way of a good comeback story? John Wick, an R-rated action film in the Liam Neeson or Jason Statham mode, may indeed mark a comeback for Keanu. Last week, it looked like John Wick would have trouble reaching $10 million (again, in the Jason Statham mode), but strong word of mouth resulted instead in a relatively promising debut of $14.1 million. That’s less than half what Denzel Washington brought in with The Equalizer last month, but it blows the $9.9 million of 47 Ronin out of the water. The film has received good reviews (86% on Rotten Tomatoes) and is expected to do well overseas (especially in China, where investors helped finance the film) so, yeah, I’m thinking Keanu is back.
Holdovers rounded out the top five this weekend. Last weekend’s number one opener, Fury, was down just 45% in its second frame, bringing its domestic total up to $46 million. The 3D animated The Book of Life had an even better hold (-42%), though it is still a bit short of $30 million after ten days in theatres. And, in its fourth weekend, Gone Girl remains a box office force. The Fox feature was down just 36% this weekend and should overtake The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to become director David Fincher’s highest-grossing domestic release (not adjusted for inflation) by next Friday. Worldwide, Gone Girl has earned nearly $228 million, which puts it close to the final global take of Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
TWC’s St. Vincent expanded its run from 68 to 2,282 locations this weekend. With an estimate of just over $8 million, the comedy failed to reach the top five, though it’s strong word of mouth (audiences gave the film an A- CinemaScore) suggests that St. Vincent will find its legs over the next few weeks. In other notable expansion news, Birdman brought in an estimated $1.4 million from 50 locations this weekend. The Fox searchlight drama, starring Michael Keaton, scored one of the best per-screen averages in recent memory last weekend with its debut in four NY and LA venues. The comedy Dear White People came in just behind Birdman with an estimated $1.3 million, though due to its bigger theatre count (384 locations), Birdman’s per-screen average was significantly higher.
Overall, this weekend’s box office came in about 10% above the same frame in 2013, which is pretty impressive considering that last year’s number one film, Bad Grandpa, opened 60% higher than Ouija. Next weekend is not likely to keep that winning streak alive, however. With Halloween falling on a Friday, next weekend’s offerings aren’t all that tempting. Lionsgate will reissue Saw to commemorate the series’ tenth anniversary, though the re-release is not expected to bring in more than $5 million. The R-rated crime drama Nightcrawler should at least reach $10 million; but audiences are just as likely to save their money for Interstellar’s IMAX debut next Wednesday.