It’s a battle of the R-rated thrillers at the box office this week, and though both Gone Girl and Annabelle are tracking similarly, it looks like David Fincher’s literary adaptation may have an edge in both the short and long term.
The Christian-themed action pic Left Behind also opens in under 2,000 theaters, and, as with most faith-based releases, its success or failure is somewhat of a wildcard. Industry tracking can never seem to get a solid handle on the Christian market.
Here’s how things might play out.
1. Gone Girl — $25 million
David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s whodunnit bestseller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike has tremendous buzz and critical praise behind it as the pic debuts in 3,013 locations. Fox co-produced the film with New Regency for a reported $61 million, and studio and industry analysts are predicting an opening in the $20 million+ range. Both Fandango and MovieTickets.com are reporting surging ticket sales, though. Fandango, who’s also offering a free eBook download of Gone Girl with a ticket purchase, says the film is pacing similarly to Gravity, which opened in October 2013 to $55.8 million. Gone Girl won’t do those numbers, but it should have staying power and could be one of Fincher’s top three or four openings of all time (his highest is Panic Room, which opened to $30 million in 2002).
2. Annabelle — $22 million
Opening weekend is key for any horror film, and Annabelle, a spinoff of 2013’s extremely successful throwback chiller The Conjuring, is filling a void in the scary movie market with a 3,185-screen launch. Produced for an estimated $6.5 million, this take could bring in over $20 million in weekend one. Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring opened to a staggering $41.8 million in July of 2013 and went on to make over $318 million worldwide. Conjuring director James Wan stepped aside for this one though, serving as producer and leaving the helm to his DP John Leonetti. That, combined with the fact that Alfre Woodard is really the only name actor in the pic, means that Annabelle just isn’t going to be playing in the same field as The Conjuring. It was also significantly cheaper and will definitely make up that budget in weekend one, rendering any spinoff lag irrelevant. Reviews aren’t great (EW gave it an F), but that never seems to matter to audiences seeking a good scare.
3. The Equalizer — $15 million
Denzel Washington’s thriller could divide audiences who would otherwise have turned out for Gone Girl, now that they have a choice. The $55 million pic will likely have grossed over $60 million by the weekend’s close, in spite of a probably hefty second weekend drop.
4. The Boxtrolls — $11 million
Laika’s animated pic remains the only family fare on the market until Disney debuts Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day next weekend.
5. The Maze Runner — $10 million
Fox’s $34 million pic should have upwards of $70 million in domestic receipts by the weekend’s close.
Left Behind, from Freestyle Releasing, opens on around 1,800 screens and might miss out on the top five. Starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray and Lea Thompson, the rapture pic, based on the extremely popular series and rebooted off of the 2000 adaptation with Kirk Cameron, cost an estimated $16 million to produce and could bring in around $8 million this weekend. Freestyle is also responsible for this year’s surprise hit God’s Not Dead which opened on 780 screens to $9.2 million, eventually bringing in over $60 million.
Finally, Warner Bros. is also releasing Alcon Entertainment’s fact-based film The Good Lie about the lost boys of Sudan and starring Reese Witherspoon. Launching on 461 screens, the film could bring in around $2.5 million. Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children also opened on 17 screens on Wednesday.
Check back in this weekend for estimates and analysis.