Ben Affleck will be back atop the box office charts this weekend, as the Affleck-fronted action-thriller The Accountant is performing above expectations in its theatrical launch. The Warner Bros. film, directed by Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor, tops the Friday chart with $9.1 million and is on track to score a solid $25 million or so for the weekend overall. Considering this is an original film with a modest budget, no known IP, and a fairly grounded story, that’s a swell debut in this day and age. Affleck plays an accountant on the autism spectrum with a penchant for contract killings, and the performer certainly found something special about The Accountant that made him want to star—he pushed back his next directorial effort Live by Night a third time in order to tackle this film, after previously delaying Night for Gone Girl and Batman v Superman.
The film feels very much like an action-thriller straight out of 1996, meaning it’s heavy on story and character and light on over-the-top CG set pieces. It’s not as deep and dark as some of Affleck’s other dramatic work, but it’s an engaging thriller and audiences responded warmly with a spectacular A CinemaScore. Fittingly, nearly 70% of ticket buyers were over the age of 35—i.e. those who probably welcome a bit of a throwback vibe.
Affleck will be back in the box office race in just a couple more months with Live by Night, which bows in limited release over Christmas before going wide in the American Sniper slot in early January.
Also new in theaters this weekend was the Kevin Hart stand-up special Kevin Hart: What Now?, which enjoyed a solid launch with an estimated $4.8 million on Friday. The comedy special is expected to hit $12.4 million for the weekend, and it’s giving Girl on the Train a run for its money in the #2 spot. The film is something of a standup special on steroids, as What Now? features fictional cinematic portions filmed by Fantastic Four and Ride Along helmer Tim Story interspersed with the stand-up footage. What Now? scored an A- CinemaScore, as it certainly looks like Hart’s star isn’t burning out anytime soon.
The weekend’s other new wide release, Max Steel, is an out-and-out bomb. The film is based on the Mattel toy of the same name, revolving around a teenager and his alien companion who join forces to become the superhero Max Steel. Debuting on 2,043 theaters, the movie is only expected to gross about $2 million total for the weekend. While Taylor Lautner was at one point attached to star, the film eventually moved forward with largely unknown actors under the direction of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn helmer Stewart Hendler.
Look for a full rundown of the weekend box office tomorrow. For now, peruse Friday’s Top 5 below.