November 1, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Nightcrawler” Says Boo!


Halloween is a terrifying holiday for studios and theatre owners, because the young adult audience that both count on have better things to do that night–and it’s particularly bad when the holiday falls on a Friday, interfering with new openings.  As a result, hardly anyone dared premiere a new movie this weekend.  That turned out to be fairly good news for the well-reviewed but odd black comedy thriller NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road), which might have sunk without a trace against major studio competition, but had the field mostly to itself this weekend.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, that gave it about $3M on Friday ($500K of it from Thursday night), and since the weekend multiple should be unusually high this weekend, as Saturday business returns to normal levels, that could mean a $12M weekend, not bad at all for a low-budget quirky indie.

The weekend’s other wide release newcomer didn’t fare as well.  BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (Clarius) found audiences skipping to the “sleep” part, with a dismal $2M weekend on the way.

In addition, BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 231 theatres, and it’s headed for an OK but unthrilling $9K weekend average.  That keeps it roughly on par with Blue Jasmine, which had a $10K average when it reached 229 theatres, and the $7800 average Boyhood had at 310.  It suggests Birdman is going to end up in the $25-30M range, very good for such an art-house flower, but not a breakout hit, which could hurt it in awards season.

The lack of new product in multiplexes was great news for holdovers, which should all have slow declines this weekend.  Even OUIJA (Universal), down 62% from last Friday to Halloween for a $3M day, may only fall to $10M in its 2d weekend, down less than 50% in a genre that usually drops far more steeply.  JOHN WICK (Lionsgate) was also down 62% on Friday to $1.8M, and should be down under 50% for the weekend to $8M.

Films aimed at adults will hold even better.  FURY (QED/Columbia/Sony) was down 50% Friday-to-Friday and should be down less than 40% for the weekend to $8.5M.  The unstoppable GONE GIRL (20th) had a Friday drop less than 50% and may decline just 35% for the weekend to $7M.  (It’s already David Fincher’s biggest US hit ever, having passed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.)  ST. VINCENT (Weinstein), which increased its theatre count by about 10%, slipped only 30% from last Friday to $1.6M, and should lose a mere 20% sliver to $6.5M.  All of these, however, will have to cope in just a few days with the arrival of the behemoth Interstellar, along with its family movie counterpart Big Hero 6.

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."