‘Nightcrawler’ Creeping to $13 Million Halloween Weekend

Jake Gyllenhaal’s thriller “Nightcrawler” is providing the only spark of life amid an otherwise deadly Halloween box office, heading for a finish in the $12 million to $13 million range.

The Open Road release, buoyed by a combo of strong reviews and lack of competition, dominated on its opening day with an estimated $3 million at 2,766 locations. That included $515,000 from late Thursday showings.

Nightcrawler,” which has an $8.5 million budget, could have carried the dubious distinction of being the lowest-grossing weekend winner of 2014. The low end of forecasts placed “Nightcrawler” around $10 million, but it appears likely that it will perform significantly better.

Marvel-Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is currently the lowest weekend winner this year, taking in $10.4 million during the Sept. 5-7 frame on its sixth weekend.

As it is, moviegoing is looking minimal for the remainder of the slate, thanks to the massive distraction offered by Halloween falling on a Friday.

Universal’s low-budget “Ouija” led the rest of the pack with an estimated $2.4 million on Friday for a projected $7.4 million weekend. That would represent a 63% decline from its opening frame, although the scarefest is already highly profitable with a cume heading past $31 million on Sunday.

Three other titles could challenge “Ouija” for the second slot — Sony’s third weekend of Brad Pitt vehicle “Fury,” Fox’s third frame of animated toon “The Book of Life” and Lionsgate’s second weekend of Keanu Reeves’ actioner “John Wick.”

“Fury” demonstrated decent traction with forecasts of a $1.4 million Friday and a $6.9 million weekend, which would lift its 17-day take past $58 million in the U.S.

“The Book of Life” — centered on the Mexican “Day of the Dead” holiday this weekend — was expected to show respectable holding power this weekend after a mild Friday under $1 million. Forecasters predicted a 32% decline to $6.8 million weekend, lifting “Day of the Dead” to nearly $40 million.

“John Wick” — the recipient of surprisingly strong critical support — was drawing decently Friday with an estimated $1.6 million, leading to a $6.6 million weekend forecast.

With the major studios opting out of releasing new titles on Halloween, the only other new entry was Clarius Entertainment’s thriller “Before I Go to Sleep,” starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, with a less-than-lively bow of $850,000 on Friday at 1,935 locations and a tepid weekend launch likely around $3.4 million.

Fox’s fifth frame of “Gone Girl,” one of the success stories of the early fall, may crack the top five following an $11 million take last weekend. It’s already hit $127.8 million in its first four weeks, making it David Fincher’s top grosser in the U.S. market, as it passed the U.S. cume of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

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