For the second weekend in a row Gone Girl is on top of the domestic box office. And for the second weekend in a row the R-rated drama got the win despite losing Friday to another title. Last week’s Friday winner was the horror prequel Annabelle, while this week it was Dracula Untold that got the brief taste of glory. Universal’s horror-fantasy was a lot stronger out of the gate than many expected, though not quite strong enough to chase down Gone Girl. After taking in an estimated $78.2 million in ten days, the Fox drama is on its way to becoming the biggest hit of director David Fincher’s career.
|8.||The Maze Runner||$7,500,000||$83.8|
Full story after the jump.
While it’s not exactly rare for a movie to win their first Friday and then lose the weekend, it’s at least a little unusual. This year it’s happened five times in 41 weeks – and now twice thanks to Gone Girl. It’s hard to draw any collective conclusion about the five films that took the Friday banner and then failed to win the weekend race, however. One (Rio 2) went on to top $100 million in North America alone while another (About Last Night) was pretty much the definition of a box office flop.
It was clear last Friday that Annabelle was going to be one of the winners, even after playing runner-up to the higher-profile Gone Girl. So far the horror pic has earned over $85 million worldwide and is close to overtaking The Purge: Anarchy to become the year’s highest-grossing domestic horror film. The takeaway here is that winning the weekend box office is great marketing, but it’s not the number that matters most in the end.
Luckily for Gone Girl, it has a lot of other impressive numbers to fall back on. One of the best reviewed wide-releases of the year (holding at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes) and now a two-time first place finisher. The last R-rated drama to spend two weeks in first place was Lone Survivor, back in January. Shutter Island was also a two-time R-rated winner back in 2010, and went on to earn almost $300 million worldwide. Considering its positive word of mouth, that seems like an attainable goal for Gone Girl as well. The film took in almost $25 million in its international debut last weekend and will expand its global run to 54 markets this weekend.
In terms of David Fincher’s all-time best, Gone Girl already secured the director his biggest domestic opening last weekend with $37.5 million. Without adjusting for inflation, Fincher’s biggest domestic hit is 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with $127.5 million. That number should be easy for Gone Girl to reach, considering the slight -29% drop it realized in its sophomore frame. Fincher’s inflation-adjusted high is Seven, which earned $100.1 million back in 1995 or $156.2 million in 2014 dollars.
Which brings us to Dracula Untold. Part of Universal’s planned resurrection of their venerable “Universal Monsters” line for 21st century audiences, early signs did not point to a big Untold opening. Earlier this year I, Frankenstein (though NOT from Universal) was a complete disaster – opening to just $8.6 million in North America and earning a total of $71 million worldwide. With both the horror and fantasy genres struggling in 2014, an opening of $17 million seemed like the best Untold could hope for.
Instead, audiences seemed to warm to the idea of another Dracula. The film received an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore, propelling it to this weekend’s stronger than anticipated $23.4 million debut. That’s not great for a PG-13 film with such a large IMAX footprint (or for one that cost $70 million), but it is certainly higher than forecast. The film’s real test will come next weekend when we see how well it holds without any fresh horror titles on the market. And after that? Universal’s own Ouija should drive a stake through Dracula’s domestic box office ambitions.
Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day came in third this weekend. Despite it’s oversized title (the film is based on a 40 year-old children’s book by the same name), Alexander was decidedly modest in its debut: earning an estimated $19.1 million from 3,088 locations. That is actually higher than the $17 million that Disney had projected, though given the fact that the box office hasn’t had much besides The Boxtrolls to offer family audiences in the past month, the low expectations seemed surprising. Poor reviews don’t typically deter family audiences, but the critical response to Alexander was especially bad – just 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Given that, Disney may feel like they dodged a bullet by opening the comedy a bit higher than projected – and now they get to say they have the “number one comedy in America” in their TV spots.
The weekend’s final new wide release was The Judge. Another R-rated drama, the Warner Brothers release struggled to distinguish itself in the wake of both Gone Girl and The Equalizer’s recent successes. From 3,003 locations, The Judge took in an estimated $13.3 million. That’s pretty low compared to Robert Downey Jr.’s last six starring roles – all but one (Due Date) as part of giant franchise hits. But The Judge did manage to top Downey Jr.’s last non-tentpole drama: The Soloist, which opened with $9.7 million in 2009.
In terms of its per-theatre average, The Judge came in at $4,439. Compare that to Lionsgate’s limited release of Addicted (yet another R-rated drama) which opened with a strong estimate of $7.6 million from just 874 locations, or almost $9,000 per theatre. Among a ton of smaller releases this weekend, St. Vincent earned $121,054 from four locations and Kill the Messenger, with Jeremy Renner, which earned $939,000 from 374 locations.