October 5, 2014

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 10/5/14


It was a strong multiplex weekend all over the world this week, which was good news for Hollywood and its overseas equivalents.

OPENINGS:  Although David Fincher is considered one of cinema’s heavy hitters, he’s never been a blockbuster guy, and until this weekend, his biggest opening came a dozen years ago, with $30.1M for Panic Room.  He’s blown through that mark now, scoring $38M with the opening of GONE GIRL (20th), which also bettered such major adult-themed fall releases as Argo ($19.5M), The Town ($23.8M), Red Dragon ($36.5M) and The Departed ($26.9M).  With the quasi-exception of the $55.8M start for Gravity (an entirely different genre), it’s the highest-opening “serious” October movie ever.  Gone Girl wasn’t just a US phenomenon, either:  in 39 territories, it earned $24.6M, with many major markets still to come.  (It wasn’t, however, the top-grossing film overseas this weekend, as India’s Bang Bang pulled in $25.4M, mostly from its home market, and China’s Breakup Buddies is expected to be even bigger, again largely in its own territory.)  Fincher’s movies tend to have long runs, and he has two films (Seven and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) with worldwide totals over $325M, but Gone Girl is off to a great start.

It’s interesting to note that the only reason we’re not having a controversy today about which movie won the weekend is because ANNABELLE (New Line/Warners) voluntarily claimed a much larger Sunday drop than Gone Girl‘s.  (Annabelle was actually ahead as of Saturday.)  Those who lack hypothetical backstories with their Sunday numbers may wonder if a contributing factor in Warners’ generosity was goodwill toward Ben Affleck, star of its mega-franchise Superman vs. Batman.  Also, Annabelle doesn’t really need the prestige factor of being #1, as a $37.2M start will do it just fine, considering its $6.5M production budget.  In addition to its US take, Annabelle brought in $20M in 24 territories ($23M to date), covering about 1/3 of the world.  Although international release patterns are extremely hard to compare, the studio claims that Annabelle is running ahead of The Conjuring in the applicable territories.

LEFT BEHIND (Freestyle) is claiming a tiny Sunday decline, obviously on the theory that churchgoers will show up in great numbers–not an entirely unreasonable idea, given its Rapture theme.  For now, it’s at $6.9M for the weekend, considerably below the $9.2M start for the same studio’s God’s Not Dead, even though that exercise in cinematic Christianity was in less than half as many theatres and lacked any star presence comparable to Nicolas Cage’s in Left Behind.

DRACULA UNTOLD (Legendary /Universal) won’t arrive in the US until next week, but it’s already in 25 foreign territories, and it’s started quite well with $21M

HOLDOVERS:  Despite the hot new attractions at the top of the chart, longer-running titles mostly did quite well.  THE EQUALIZER (Columbia/Sony) lost 44% for a $19M weekend (roughly the same as the 41-45% 2d weekend drops for Safe House and American Gangster) and $64.5M to date.  Equalizer is now playing across most of the world, and earned $13M from 70 territories and $39.6M to date, reinforcing the fact that Denzel Washington is a much bigger star at home than he is overseas.

THE BOXTROLLS (Laida/Focus/Universal) was down just 28% in its second weekend to $12.4M (compared to a 12% decline for Coraline and 39% for Paranorman), with $32.5M so far and probably a $65M total ahead.  In 22 territories, it also grossed $6M for the weekend, for a $26M total.

THE MAZE RUNNER (20th) was sturdy as well, down 31% in its 3d weekend to $12M and $73.9M to date, seemingly headed for $100M.  It’s at $119.1M overseas after a $16.5M weekend in 61 territories.  There are still major European territories to come, as well as China, and Maze Runner is likely to pass Divergent‘s worldwide total of $288.8M, largely due to its much stronger international appeal.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warners) and DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Alcon/Warners) both held nicely, down respectively 42% and 26%, although at fairly low numbers ($4M/3.5M) that will leave both movies at mild $40-45M totals.  The unstoppable GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel/Disney) fell only 19% in its 10th weekend to $3M, and also took in $2.4M overseas, for US/worldwide totals of $323.4M/$653.8M and with its China opening scheduled for Friday.

LIMITED RELEASE:  THE GOOD LIE (Imagine/Warners) is another drama hoping for a strong Sunday showing from religious audiences, but even with that assumption, it’s having a slow start with just a $2K average at 461 theatres.  Jason Reitman’s MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (Paramount) was also unimpressive, averaging $2800 at 17 theatres.  THE SKELETON TWINS (Roadside) expanded by 20% to 461 theatres with an OK $1600 average.  MY OLD LADY (Cohen) is holding well, down a mere 15% from last weekend and with a $1800 average at 263 theatres (one assume a lot of senior citizen-priced tickets were sold for that one).  HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (Relativity) doubled to 183 theatres with an unhappy $1200 average.  PRIDE (CBS), now at 23 theatres, had an OK $4300 average, and TRACKS (Weinstein), more than doubling to 67 theatres, averaged $1400.  BLUE ROOM (IFC), riding a NY Times rave, averaged a tidy $7400 at 3 theatres.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."