Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ Surging to $35 Million-Plus Weekend

'Annabelle' strong in second place with nearly $30 million

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike are showing solid drawing power as “Gone Girl” heads for an opening weekend of at least $35 million in the U.S., according to early estimates Friday.

Fox’s “Gone Girl” looked likely to draw more than $12 million on its opening day at 3,014 locations.

That should be enough to give the thriller a winning weekend over New Line’s scarefest “Annabelle,” which will probably take in about $14 million Friday and wind up the weekend with an equally impressive $30 million at 3,185.

That scenario would represent a shot in the arm for studios and exhibitors. Should both “Gone Girl” and “Annabelle” finish above $30 million, it would be first time time in two months that two titles have cleared that figure since the Aug. 8-10 frame with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Annabelle” took in a solid $2.1 million in late-night showings Thursday, topping “Gone Girl,” started respectably with $1.25 million at 2,370 sites.

“Gone Girl” appears to be effectively leveraging the popularity of Gillian Flynn’s  novel, in which a husband in a fading marriage becomes the key suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Promotions for “Gone Girl” have taken taken advantage of Affleck’s considerable star power with a voice in one trailer asking, “How does it feel to be the most hated man in America?”

Both “Gone Girl” and “Annabelle” are R-rated and have been aimed at attracting mature audiences.

David Fincher directed “Gone Girl” with Fox and New Regency producing for $61 million. Should the Friday estimate hold, “Gone Girl” will become the biggest launch for a Fincher title, eclipsing the $30 million launch of 2002’s “Panic Room.”

“Annabelle,” which stars Annabelle Wallis, will make back its $6.5 million budget on its first day. New Line and Warner Bros. appear to have tapped into the surprise success of “The Conjuring,” which introduced the creepy Annabelle doll as part of its catalog of possessed objects.

“Annabelle” is directed by John R. Leonetti (James Wan’s longtime cinematographer) from Gary Dauberman ‘s script with Peter Safran and Wan producing.

Warner Bros. reported that “Annabelle” had grossed $7 million from 21 international markets and had finished ahead of “The Conjuring” in the same markets to date with strong results in Australia, Korea, Italy and Taiwan.

Conversely, Nicholas Cage’s faith-based “Left Behind” appeared to be showing little traction with a first-day gross of $900,000 for Freestyle, projecting to about $2.7 million for the weekend.

Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer” led the rest of the pack with an early estimate of $5.5 million on Friday, portending a second weekend of about $18 million for Sony — a decline of about 47%, which would give it about $64 million for its first 10 days.

Fox’s third weekend of “The Maze Runner” looked likely to finish fourth with $3 million on Friday and a $10 million weekend, edging Focus’ second weekend of “The Boxtrolls” at about $9 million.

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