“Gone Girl,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “Dracula Untold” emerged relatively unscathed from a box office pile-up this weekend, while Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Judge” got banged around at the multiplexes.
David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s marital mystery was at the top for the second week in a row, unearthing $26.8 million and bringing its total to $78.3 million. At this rate, it could surpass “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” ($127.5 million domestic) as Fincher’s biggest commercial success.
Meanwhile, “Dracula Untold” exceeded pre-release tracking that had the picture opening to $18 million by sinking its fangs into $23.5 million across 2,887 locations. The story of how Vlad the Impaler developed a taste for blood arrives courtesy of Universal Pictures and cost $70 million to produce.
“It’s a very, very solid result,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s distribution chief. “It’s not a horror film. It’s an untold story and there is some romance which appeals to females.”
Indeed, “Dracula Untold” brought in a premiere audience that was 43% female, an impressively balanced crowd given the action-heavy subject matter, and more than 50% under the age of 30. Seventeen percent of its box office was from Imax screenings and 10% from premium large formats.
Younger crowds turned out for Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” as the $28-million production picked up a respectable $19.1 million from 3,088 locations. The low price tag means the film will likely be profitable.
“It sets us up in a great way as the lighter alternative to a lot of the darker genre fare that’s in theaters this month,” said Dave Hollis, Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of theatrical distribution.
Monday’s Columbus Day holiday and Canada’s Thanksgiving means kids will be out of school, which should help goose the film’s ticket sales, the Disney distribution chief argued.
That “The Judge” got made at all is a testament to Downey Jr.’s star wattage, but his power was not great enough to secure a strong opening for the courtroom drama — the kind of talky picture that Hollywood is loath to make these days. “The Judge” grossed a disappointing $13.3 million from 3,003 locations, lower than pre-release estimates which put it in the $16 million to $18 million range. The film was produced by Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow for $50 million, but struggled to find a place among older audiences who were lured instead to “Gone Girl.”
Ticket-buyers seemed to enjoy the film, giving it an A-minus CinemaScore rating. Its opening crowd was 85% over the age of 25.
“I’m hoping we settle in,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution. “It’s an audience pleaser and hopefully we can swing a little younger, get some good word of mouth and hang in there. We have to let it play one day at a time.”
Perhaps the weekend’s biggest surprise was Lionsgate and CodeBlack’s “Addicted,” which scored an impressive $7.6 million from just 846 locations. The low-budget thriller about a woman (Sharon Leal) who threatens her picture-perfect marriage by engaging in a series of affairs targeted African American audiences and had been expected to make between $3 million and $4 million.
Among holdovers, “Annabelle” dropped 58% in its second weekend to $16.4 million, but the horror film ranks as an unqualified success for New Line, which produced “The Conjuring” spinoff. It will pass the $100 million mark globally this weekend — not bad for a picture that only cost $6.7 million to produce.
Also sticking around, “The Equalizer” added $9.7 million to its nearly $80 million bounty. At this rate, it will likely pull in $100 million domestically, only the fifth Denzel Washington film to hit that mark. “The Maze Runner” is also eying $100 million domestically, adding $7.5 million to its $83.8 million total.
In limited release, “St. Vincent,” the story of a curmudgeon (Bill Murray) who befriends the boy next door, earned $121,054 in four theaters. Its $30,920 per-screen average will likely be the highest one for the weekend. The comedy, which was co-produced by the Weinstein Company and Chernin Entertainment, will expand to 60 theaters in the top 25 markets next weekend before going wide on Oct. 24.
The film was originally supposed to just go wide at the end of the month, but the Weinstein Company altered its playbook.
“We wanted to build word of mouth and get the heat out there a little to create some excitement in the marketplace,” said Erik Lomis, president of theatrical distribution at the Weinstein Company.
Another awards hopeful, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Whiplash” picked up $143,503 on six screens for a per-screen average of $23,917. The film features Miles Teller as a musical prodigy and J.K. Simmons as his demanding mentor. Reviews have been sterling.
Journalism drama, “Kill the Messenger,” which finds Jeremy Renner sans crossbow as a reporter who exposes CIA corruption, grossed $939,000 from 374 theaters. Focus Features is distributing the picture.
Overall, the box office was at $150 million, up nearly 30% from the year-ago weekend, when “Gravity” topped charts for a second week in a row and “Captain Phillips” opened at more than $25.7 million. That marks the second week in a row that box office returns have exceeded those of 2013 — a nice change of pace for the film business after its worst summer results in more than a decade.