The box office came out of the September doldrums in full force this weekend, with the top two movies powering the weekend to a 23 percent higher weekend than the same period last year, and the highest overall weekend ever for October. The number one movie was, of course, David Fincher’s highly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl, which took in $38 million for the weekend, less than last year’s number one movie in the same frame (Gravity took in $55 million this weekend last year), but still the biggest opening ever for Fincher and Ben Affleck’s biggest opening weekend since Daredevil back in 2003. The audience skewed older, which was to be expected given the R rating and the material, so it remains to be seen whether it will hold strong in the coming weeks, but the film should at the very least surpass its $61 million budget by the end of the month.
Hot on Girl‘s heels was October’s first horror offering, the Conjuring spinoff Annabelle, which came in second place by less than a million dollars ($37.2 million). That’s a bit less than what The Conjuring opened with last year ($41.9 million), but horror movies rarely cost more than $30-40 million, so Annabelle‘s likely well on its way to profit, and producer James Wan can mark another success on his horror movie record. The movie should hold up well given that it’s October, but it’s also worth noting that only 42 percent of the weekend gross came from Friday, which is an unusually strong hold for a horror movie (most horror films do over 50 percent of their opening weekend business on Friday and drop off sharply).
On the indie side, Nicolas Cage’s latest descent into madness, the Christian-themed thriller Left Behind, opened in sixth place with $6.85 million, a fine but not spectacular showing given the rest of this year’s Christian-themed hits. And Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children looks to be his second critical and commercial flop of the year, opening with a $2,824 per-theater average in 17 theaters.
Next week brings the Oscar bait-y The Judge, the horror movie that no one wants to see (Dracula Untold), and a little something for the kids with the crazily titled Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.