Weekend Box Office (October 31 - November 2, 2014)
THIS WEEKEND Jake Gyllenhaal may be the only one reaching double digit millions with his new crime journalism thriller Nightcrawler which opens on Halloween, a holiday that negatively affects the box office thanks to parties, trick-or-treating, and other social activities. Studios especially hate it when it falls on a prime moviegoing day like Friday or Saturday.
The R-rated Nightcrawler has earned terrific reviews which should help some as will solid trailers, but Gyllenhaal can only sell to a finite extent when he is the only major star carrying a movie. Many adults will be taken out of the picture this weekend by Halloween parties and events so that will take a bite out. Luckily the World Series is over, but sports competition will still come from football, basketball, and hockey. Opening in 2,766 theaters, starting with pre-shows at 7pm Thursday, Nightcrawler may debut to around $12M this weekend.
Ushering in an era of torture porn, and long before "micro-budget" became a hot word in the horror genre, the brutal fright flick Saw released in theaters ten years ago this week. Released by what was then spelled Lions Gate, the R-rated surprise hit bowed to a stellar $18.3M in third place on its way to a $55.2M final making the $1M production one of the most profitable films of the year. The distributor launches a tenth anniversary re-release to coincide with Halloween hoping to cash in on nostalgia.
But in recent years, re-releases have proven to be struggling titles much of the time. Films are available on numerous formats now so to pay top dollar for the theatrical experience is often reserved just for the most die-hard fans. Also, a handful of successful scary movies have satisfied consumer demand for screams these last few weeks. Opening in 2,063 locations, the return of Saw could lead to about $5M this weekend.
Entering the marketplace with weak buzz is the Nicole Kidman thriller Before I Go To Sleep which will play more female and more mature. The R-rated amnesia pic co-stars Colin Firth and Mark Strong and while all are talented artists, their combined commercial appeal is limited. Plus older adults have been very satisfied with the abundance of choices for them over the past month so this new addition is not needed. Mixed reviews won't help either. Clarius goes into roughly 1,700 locations and could collect about $3M this weekend.
Sophomore holdovers will try to scare up some extra business as the newcomers ride in looking for attention. The horror flick Ouija has some new competition from a different kind of fright pic, but the Halloween mood is still there giving moviegoers the desire to come out for content like this. A 50% drop would leave Universal with about $10M for the weekend and $34M overall.
Lionsgate may also lose half of its audience for the action thriller John Wick, especially with Nightcrawler coming in. The weekend take may slide down to around $7M for a new sum of $27M.
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Watch the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
LAST YEAR The sci-fi film Ender's Game shot straight to number one with a $27M opening on its way to $61.7M for Lionsgate. Paramount's comedy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa dropped to second with a nice hold and took in $20M. New releases Last Vegas and Free Birds followed with debuts of $16.3M and $15.8M, respectively. Final totals were $63.9M for the CBS comedy and $55.8M for the Relativity toon. Three-time champ Gravity rounded out the top five with $12.8M for Warner Bros.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: October 30, 2014 at 2:00PM ET
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