Ouija, the microbudget, board game-inspired horror pic, came out on top in its opening weekend with a strong (but expected) $20 million showing from 2,858 locations. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves’ John Wick proved its own strength with a $14.15 million weekend, which doesn’t look all that impressive on its own but is almost double what tracking predicted for the bloody revenge thriller.
Critics may have hated Ouija (even audiences slapped it with a C CinemaScore), but it is a box office truth universally acknowledged that teens will turn out for horror films, no matter how poorly reviewed — especially when they open just days before Halloween. Audiences were a whopping 75 percent under 25, 61 percent female and ethnically mixed. (39 percent of audiences were Hispanic, 31 percent Caucasian, and 12 percent African American.) It also opened in five international territories to $1.3 million and will continue its rollout over the next few months. Ouija cost Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes under $5 million to produce, so no matter what sort of dramatic drop off Ouija might suffer in weekend two, it’s already another micro budget success for Universal and Blumhouse.
“We saw how this film worked with its target audience,” Universal’s President of Domestic Distribution Nikki Rocco told EW. “We watched the tracking for the last three weeks, and there is something to be said for making these microbudget films and making them really, really work. The PG-13 was so smart. It works. PG-13 works. And here are the results.”
Lionsgate and Summit’s R-rated assassin pic John Wick (B CinemaScore) took the second place spot with $14.15 million from 2,589 theaters. Budgets haven’t been reported for this one, but it is a huge win for star Keanu Reeves on a few levels. Critics loved it and the movie does, in some ways, redeem Reeves from last year’s epic flop 47 Ronin, the $175 million pic that opened to only $9.9 million. It helped that John Wick was playing on both IMAX and premium large format screens, too. $2.5 million of its weekend take was from 347 IMAX screens. Still, it would be interesting to know how this might have fared without so much competition in the R-rated space.
The rest of the top five were holdovers, including David Ayer’s WWII saga Fury, which fell a slight 45 percent from last weekend’s opening, a good sign for its life at the box office in the coming weeks. Gone Girl took the fourth place spot with $11.1 million. In the next few days, it will pass The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to become David Fincher’s highest earner to date. Finally, the animated fantasy The Book of Life fell 42 percent in weekend two, bringing its domestic cume to $29.91 million.
1. Ouija — $20 million
2. John Wick — $14.15 million
3. Fury — $13 million ($46.05 million domestic total)
4. Gone Girl — $11.1 million ($124.09 million domestic total)
5. The Book of Life — $9.8 million ($29.91 million domestic total)
The Weinstein Company’s St. Vincent (A- Cinema Score) added over 2,200 screens for its third weekend in theaters, barely missing the top five with $8.1 million.
In limited release, Laura Poitras’ Edward Snowden doc Citizenfour opened on five screens to a robust $125K. “With exceptional reviews, sell out crowds and multiple standing ovations, Citizenfour is already on track to becoming one of the biggest documentaries of the last five years,” said RADiUS co-president Tom Quinn. “As one of the most transcendent, historic and thrilling pieces of cinema I’ve ever come across, I see no limits in how far we can take this.” Lynn Shelton’s coming-of-age Sundance pic Laggies, starring Keira Knightley, also opened on five screens and took in an estimated $78.5K.
Also of note: Lucy opened in China this weekend to an estimated $19 million, while Disney’s Big Hero 6 debuted in Russia and the Ukraine in advance of its Nov. 7 North American opening to take advantage of school holidays. The animated pic earned $4.8 million across two days, which is higher than Wreck-It Ralph and on par with Tangled.