October 25, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Ouija” Frightening Enough For the Win


With Halloween, a traditionally slow moviegoing day, falling on Friday next week, this is the de facto Halloween movie weekend, which left a clear path for the low-budget OUIJA (Universal).  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, it pulled in $8M on Friday (including over $900K from Thursday night), which should take it to a weekend as high as $20M.  That’s not much compared with Annabelle, which just 3 weeks ago earned $37.1M in its opening weekend, but Ouija reportedly cost only $5M to produce, and even with a major studio marketing campaign behind it, it should turn a fair profit.

Buoyed by remarkably good reviews, JOHN WICK (Lionsgate) still isn’t doing all that well, with $5.5M on Friday (almost $900K from Thursday night), but expectations were so low that its likely $15M weekend looks like a win.  Lionsgate has limited rights on the Keanu Reeves thriller, which also means a limited investment, but it does foot the bill for all the US marketing, which means that even at a better than anticipated revenue level, it still won’t be much of a success.

ST. VINCENT (Weinstein) expanded to 2282 theatres with an OK $2.7M that should get it over $8M for the weekend.  The movie wasn’t expensive, but with high-profile openings like Birdman around, St Vincent‘s path to awards and a lengthy run at the box office aren’t terribly promising.

FURY (QED/Columbia/Sony) had a 53% dip from last Friday to $4.1M, but that will settle over the course of the weekend to around a 45% drop and $13-14M, on the road to $75M in the US.  It’s a solid hold, although the fact that it didn’t face any new A-level competition helped it out.  The reigning champion of great holds, though, continues to be GONE GIRL (20th), with a 40% Friday-to-Friday decrease to $3.5M and a probable $12M weekend.  It’ll be near $125M by Sunday,. and has $150M in its sights.

Even with no new family product arriving this weekend, BOOK OF LIFE (20th) took a 50% fall from last Friday to $2.5M.  As with Fury, that will moderate over the weekend to what should be a 40% drop and $10M, on its way to $50M in the US.  Its main competition, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney), was down 40% from last Friday to $2M and a likely $8M weekend.  It should end up a bit higher than Book of Life, perhaps $60M in the US, and at a lower production cost, although also with less foreign appeal.

THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) dropped almost 60% from last Friday to $1.7M, and should be down 50% for the weekend to $5M, passing quickly to home viewing.  THE JUDGE (Warners) fell 40% from last Friday to $1.5M, on its way to a $4.5M weekend and perhaps $35M in the US.

BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 50 theatres, and averaged $7600 on Friday.  That’s a far cry from last Friday’s $34K average at only 4 theatres, but it’s to be expected once an art film moves beyond the coasts.  It should average $25K for the weekend, not as good as the 2d weekend of Blue Jasmine, which averaged $37K when it widened to 50 theatres on its 2d weekend, and even farther from the $55K average that The Grand Budapest Hotel had in its expansion to 66 theatres.  That suggests Birdman could end up in the $20-25M range in the US, around the same as Boyhood (which averaged $34K when it was at 34 theatres), a film it’ll be seeing quite a bit at awards ceremonies over the next few months.


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."