Weekend Wrap-Up

Gone Girl, Annabelle Vie for Top of Box Office

By John Hamann

October 5, 2014

It's true that writing is so much better with a fuzzy pen.

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It’s October, R-rated films hold the top three spots at the box office, and the Seahawks play Monday night. It’s a good time to be alive.

What a weekend at the box office it has been. New openers this weekend included the much-anticipated Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (get used to hearing her name), as David Fincher delivers another electrifying conversation piece. Also debuting was Annabelle, the prequel to The Conjuring that starred no one you know, and Left Behind, another Nic Cage paycheck movie that will likely provide more laughs than drama. Holdovers also packed a punch, and included the second weekend for Denzel’s Equalizer and Laika’s The Boxtrolls, along with the third weekend for the surprisingly leggy Maze Runner. Can you tell September is over?

Our number one film of the weekend is Gone Girl, the new thriller from uber-director David Fincher, who is making a strong case for a third Oscar nomination. Starring the rebooted Ben Affleck, Gone Girl also features Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry in a movie that is already getting Oscar attention. Box office wise, Gone Girl got off to a solid start on Thursday night, earning $1.25 million from previews, an amount in line with other heavyweight adult dramas. On Friday, Gone Girl earned $12 million, and with the Thursday included, the Friday number was reported at $13.2 million. Considering tracking was looking for an debut in the mid-$20 millions, this first Friday was explosive, setting the stage for a huge weekend and an Oscar run with it. Despite all this good news, Gone Girl was second on Friday night behind Annabelle by $2.3 million, but the satanic doll from The Conjuring prequel was about to act similarly to the title of this thriller – gone girl.


Over the weekend proper, the Fox distributed, New Regency/Pacific Standard title blew apart expectations, earning $38 million from 3,014 venues, giving it a theater average of $12,608. Gone Girl rode an incredible marketing campaign towards success, using a series of strong trailers and TV ads to amplify the mystery contained in the film. Oddly enough, one of the first people involved with Gone Girl was Reese Witherspoon, who owns the Pacific Standard production company. The writer of the original novel, Gillian Flynn, adapted her own book into the screenplay, so instead of taking over a novel and abusing it with a committee of writers, the idea owner put her own book on the screen, and we are seeing that pay off this weekend.

For an early October release, the $38 million debut is very strong. Of the top 20 October openers, only five debuted in the first weekend of the month, the biggest being Gravity, which took in $55.8 million when it debuted last year on October 4th. Gone Girl is 87% fresh at RottenTomatoes, and with a film like this, it needed strong notices to succeed. It earned a B Cinemascore, and on paper that might look troubling, but because the film is dark and "Fincheresque," it is not surprising. Fight Club and Se7en both earned B- Cinemascores, and one could write a case study on the human condition from those two scores alone. Gone Girl is a water cooler movie and should easily hit $100 million domestically before all is said and done. It should also be a hit internationally since Fincher, Affleck and Pike all have strong followings overseas.

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