If the box office is down or even failing in 2014, part of the problem may be that over 30 movies opened this weekend in New York. Sure, most cities didn’t receive that many new pictures, but there’s surely no paucity of choices at the cinema these days, which means someone’s gonna get edged out. Especially with such a robust and competitive roster on VOD. But the biggest box-office conversation piece wasn’t the winners and losers, but the absence of Box Office Mojo, the indispensible box office resource that every movie writer and even every box office writer uses, even if they have a Rentrak account. BOM failed to load on Friday morning, and by Friday afternoon was redirecting to its parent company IMDb. The understandably aghast media began to speculate and assume the site had been shuttered and absorbed into its mothership company (IMDb is owned by Amazon), but by Saturday evening the site was mysteriously back online. Of course no one at BOM or IMDb is talking, as is usual with the mostly mysterious, never transparent company. The good news is that the website is back and therefore people like myself can get back to reporting the box office properly (in truth, there are other sites, but none as easy to use). Without it, we wouldn’t even bother. So Box Office Mojo. How about you go there four, five times today, refresh a dozen times and send some box office facts to your friends.
So in regular box office news, David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” held the top spot again for the second week in a row. Falling only 28.6%—which has to be one of the smallest drops of the year—“Gone Girl” showed an incredibly impressive hold. The movie has grossed $78.2 million domestically so far and is tracking far better at the box office than “The Social Network” or “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” did in their second week of release. “Gone Girl” reached $75 million in 10 days. ‘Dragon Tattoo’ in 9, ‘Social Network’ in 15. Clearly this dark and satirical examination of partners, marriages, relationships and the lies and manipulations made within these structures has hit a nerve with audiences, both men and women, the way Fincher hoped it would. Overseas “Gone Girl” took is a healthy $62.3 million, making for a $141. million total worldwide. That means, in two weeks of release, “Gone Girl” has grossed more than half the total worldwide take of ‘Dragon Tattoo’ ($232 million). If this pace keeps up, you’ll see “Gone Girl” make over $300 million worldwide and becoming Fincher’s highest grossing domestic film ever. Too bad for Fox that Flynn’s novel doesn’t have a sequel. Maybe the takeaway here is releasing a dark David Fincher film at Christmas isn’t the best idea in the world.
Little match for the number one slot was Universal’s “Dracula Untold.” The film received middling reviews, but there is a gap in the market right now for new, genre-y hero/anti-hero films (unless you haven’t somehow seen “Guardians Of The Galaxy”), so the 18-25 audience still made it out in force. Opening with $23.4 million, the number seems small, but to put it in perspective, it’s bigger than the lifetime domestic gross of “I Frankenstein.” The movie is off to a decent start here, but overseas is an even better story. Opening in 42 territories around the globe, ‘Untold’ was number #1 at the international box-office with $33.9 million (for a worldwide gross of $62.2 million), something that Universal and their upcoming connected Monsters Universe plan is happy to hear.
Six new films cracked the top 10 this weekend, an unusually high number, but, like we said, there’s a surfeit of movies out in release these days. Opening on 3,088 screens, almost 200 more than ‘Untold,’ “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” could not crack the $20 million mark in its opening weekend. That figure is still very good for the currently underserved family market, and the film’s A- Cinemascore means it could quietly stay in the box-office top 10 for several weeks if word of mouth extends. Horror movie “Annabelle” was neck and neck with Fincher’s film last weekend, but fell, as most horror films do, almost 56% in its second week. Still, that’s actually not that bad compared to some horror plummets—the film is still in the top 5 and it’s surpassed $60 million in two weeks. Warner Bros. must surely consider this cheapie a success already.
What was it Robert Downey Jr. said on Twitter earlier this week? Something like (paraphrasing), “Go see ‘The Judge’ and support dramas made for adults”? Well, maybe audiences would rather see him in the “Iron Man” costume. Made for $50 million and opening on 3000+ screens, RDJ’s “The Judge” opened with an unremarkable $13.3 million and landed the fifth slot. But 85% of the audience was over 25, meaning there is an underserved audience here, but they’re perhaps not as opening-week crazy as younger viewers.
On less than 900 screens, Liongsate’s provocative adultery thriller “Addicted” did fairly good business considering it had almost zero critical and marketing presence (at least from this writer’s vantage point), and no stars to speak of. But as an adaptation of African American erotic-thriller author Zane’s novel, an underserved audience got their almost bi-monthly chance to see their own stories reflected on the screen.
Elsewhere, after four weeks in the top 10, “The Maze Runner” is closing in on $100 million domestically. The movie has already grossed a terrific $203 million worldwide, surely surpassing most expectations. In contrast, a similar sci-fi YA film “Divergent” made $283 million worldwide in its entire 15 week run. So it’s entirely conceivable that ‘Maze Runner’ could top that if it holds strong. But there’s also a lot of big fall competition coming up. While no longer in the top 10, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is still rising with no signs of slowing down. It’s made $326 million domestically and $656 million worldwide, which surpassed WB’s “Man Of Steel”—yep, the outer space misfits have outperformed Superman himself. And the movie opened to a record-breaking $26 million in China this weekend. Presumably those numbers are going to help the movie soar past $700 million worldwide.
In limited release, there were several options as well. Sony Pictures Classics had the critically acclaimed “Whiplash,” the Weinstein Company released the Bill Murray dramedy “St. Vincent,” and Focus Features opened with their journo/political drama “Kill The Messenger” starring Jeremy Renner. “St. Vincent,” which did well with audiences at TIFF earlier this year, began strong with $121,000 from just 4 theaters, a $30,250 per screen average. “Whiplash” wasn’t far behind with a $24,000 per screen average taking $144,000 from 6 theaters. Opening on 374 screens, “Kill The Messenger” underwhelmed, earning $939,000, making for a $2,511 PSA. The movie is supposed to expand in the coming weeks, but reviews have been so-so at best, so don’t be surprised if Focus just quietly lets this one go.
Paramount’s “Men, Women & Children” is a non-starter too. It underperformed last weekend and just barely made the top 15 of limited releases this weekend. The Jason Reitman-directed film has grossed $128,455 million so far and expanded into only 28 theaters so far. Paramount is likely going to shy away from a wide-release expansion plan to cut their losses. The movie is probably going to go down as Reitman’s worst box-office showing and the lowest grossing film of his career. TWC also released the ‘Him/Her’ long-form versions of “The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby,” but like the truncated “Them” version, audiences just aren’t responding in any significant way.
1. Gone Girl— $26,800,000 ($78,281,000)
2. Dracula Untold — $23,457,000
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day — $19,100,000
4. Annabelle —$16,365,000 ($62,156,000)
5. The Judge — $13,330,000
6. The Equalizer —$9,725,000 ($79,885,000)
7. Addicted— $7,600,000
8. The Maze Runner—$7,500,000 ($83,840,000)
9. The Boxtrolls — $6,676,000 ($41,032,000)
10. Left Behind — $2,909,000 ($10,920,000)