The Warner Bros. thriller The Accountant topped the box office charts this weekend with a better-than-expected $24.1 million, which was enough to secure the film the #1 spot. That’s a bigger opening than Ben Affleck’s Argo and The Town, and it’s even better news when you factor in that the action-thriller was modestly budgeted at $40 million. Directed by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior), the pic offered Affleck the chance to stretch his acting talents as an autistic hit man with a tortured past who fronts as an accountant for big businesses. He crosses paths with a fellow accountant, played by Anna Kendrick, and the story offers a number of twists and turns that give the film a bit of a throwback vibe akin to the 90s action-thrillers studios used to make.
The film could certainly stand alone or serve as a set up for a franchise, but it’s probably too early to talk about sequel prospects until we see how the film fares in its second weekend. However, it did land an outstanding A CinemaScore from audiences, so it certainly sounds like folks liked what they got. Will Affleck be tops again when his next directorial effort, Live by Night, hits theaters in January? We shall see.
Elsewhere, the Kevin Hart stand-up special Kevin Hart: What Now? opened to a swell $12 million, just narrowly edging out The Girl on the Train for the #2 spot and scoring a bigger opening than Hart’s last stand-up special Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Hart’s starpower shines bright, and What Now? will likely have solid legs for a film of its type.
The superhero pic Max Steel, meanwhile, opened wide on 2,035 theaters and barely anyone showed up. The film grossed just $2.1 million, for a per-theater average of $1,064. The film flew under the radar throughout the buildup to its release, and indeed I was surprised to see it opened on so many screens seeing as how most people had no idea what this was.
As for Girl on the Train, the bestseller adaptation plummeted 51% from its opening weekend numbers—this ain’t no Gone Girl. Things weren’t much better for Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which fell a hefty 60% to an estimated $2.7 million this weekend—this after an already underwhelming debut of just $7 million. The film was a sensation out of Sundance in January, with Fox Searchlight paying a pretty penny to secure distribution rights, but it’s been mired in controversy after rape charges against Parker from college resurfaced. In terms of Oscars, this one’s a goner.
And opening in limited release Jonas Cuaron’s immigration thriller Desierto secured $450,000 on 73 theaters for a $6,164 screen average.
Internationally, there are some interesting goings-on. Ron Howard’s Inferno opened in its first 52 markets two weeks before its domestic debut, scoring an estimated $50 million. That’s a really solid number considering Sony brought the budget of the Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones-fronted thriller down to a manageable $75 million, which is considerably less than the $150 million spent on Angels & Demons. Additionally, J.A. Bayona’s tearjerker A Monster Calls topped the Spanish box office for the second weekend in a row, securing a stellar $12.8 million two months before its domestic release. Will the film be a holiday hit when it bows in the U.S. on Christmas? There’s certainly potential.
Check out the full Top 10 estimates below, and tune in next week to see if Affleck can take on Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher.