Gone Girl, Annabelle Vie for Top of Box Office
By John Hamann
October 5, 2014
For Affleck, this is another step back into the light after so many baffling years with Reindeer Games, Gigli, and Surviving Christmas. Since the release of The Town ($23.8 million domestic opening, $154 million worldwide gross), Affleck has been unstoppable. 2012’s Argo won Best Picture and also earned $230 million worldwide. Like Nuke LaLoosh, he can be going strong and still hit the bull some times (Runner Runner), but maybe just to keep us guessing as to where the next pitch is coming. His next film, of course, is Batman vs Superman, which I think will either be a big hit or the beginning of the end of the superhero era at the box office. Depending on quality, it could even put him in the tailspin witnessed in the earlier part of his career. For now, he should celebrate, as this $61 million feature is going to be a big winner for all involved. We could still be talking about it in February when Oscars are handed out.
The big financial winner of the weekend is Annabelle. It's a prequel to The Conjuring, the very successful horror flick from 2013 that earned a staggering $318 million worldwide against a budget of only $20 million. The creepy doll from that film is back this weekend, and audiences followed as Annabelle took in $2.1 million from Thursday previews. It then earned another $13.4 million on Friday to give it a combined first day total of $15.5 million. Thus, the $6.5 million budget was earned back after only one day, and the film – compared to production budget only – was likely earning real money by Saturday morning. Of course, with a film like this one, there will be a significant outlay of marketing dollars, likely of at least $35-40 million, which means Annabelle will have to play for a while to see a real profit.
Over the weekend proper, Annabelle earned a very healthy $37.2 million from 3,185 venues and against some serious, also R-rated competition. We end up with two films in the top 15 October releases of all time, released on the same weekend. Annabelle didn’t receive great reviews (30% fresh at RottenTomatoes); however, we know that critical response doesn't matter as much for horror films. Its B Cinemascore was strong for the genre, considering other recent horror films fared much worse, like As Above So Below at C-, Oculus at C, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones with a C. Audiences found something to like here, and it is a child of The Conjuring, so Annabelle’s legs may be better than the usual for this horror outing.
Third spot goes to The Equalizer, a film that should have gotten squeezed hard by both Gone Girl and Annabelle, given that all three films are aimed directly at adults since they all had R ratings. After a strong $34.1 million debut, The Equalizer managed a solid second weekend despite the competition, earning $19 million and dropping an okay 44% compared to the previous frame. This is exactly what the Denzel Washington flick needed to do, keeping its nose above the 50% drop-off mark to keep its franchise hopes alive. Now, with a gross so far of $64.5 million, it maintains its $100 million domestic trajectory. Its overseas numbers are solid as well. With an international total of almost $40 million, The Equalizer is in good shape to easily recover the $55 million budget expenditure.