Gone Girl and Annabelle enjoyed strong bows Thursday night, suggesting a welcome return to healthy box-office numbers this weekend. Girl, the latest from The Social Network director David Fincher and an adaptation of the incredibly popular Gillian Flynn novel, raked in $1.25 million to Annabelle’s $2.1 million. Chances are slim, however, horror-film Annabelle will retain its lead over Girl through the weekend. Both movies boast significant fan-bases (in the case of Annabelle, these would be fans of The Conjuring, to which Annabelle is a prequel), but the audience for Girl is larger: It includes fans of the novel, fans of director David Fincher, and fans of the film’s star, Ben Affleck. Additionally, horror devotees often rush to view a feature its first weekend in theatres, resulting in totals that are often front-loaded. Older viewers, on the other hand, such as the target audience for the R-rated Girl, are able to, and often do, wait a bit longer to watch a film in theatres. In other words, Gone Girl not only enjoys the larger fan-base, but will likely hold better over the course of its theatrical run.
The two films should debut relatively close to one another (within $10 million or so), but Gone Girl should have stronger legs. Look for Girl to debut between $30 and $40 million, while Annabelle should rake in returns closer to $30 million.
The aforementioned films are not the only new releases opening this weekend, however. In fact, several movies featuring big-name stars are bowing today. Left Behind, a remake of the Christian-themed film, is headlined by Nicolas Cage. (Kirk Cameron starred in the original.) The film bows in 1,800 locations, and is likely looking, as so many features have tried over the past several months, to replicate the success of faith-based films God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real. Unfortunately, recent attempts to tap the viewing faithful have failed rather spectacularly (see: Moms' Night Out and The Identical). Left Behind is based on a popular book series, however, meaning its established fan base should help it avoid the fate of recent genre entries.
The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon, opens in 461 locations, while Men, Women & Children, starring a host of celebrities (Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler, and Ansel Elgort are just a few players within the buzzy ensemble), expands to 17 theatres from the five in which it opened on Wednesday. The former has been receiving positive reviews, while the latter, the latest from Up in the Air director Jason Reitman, has been taken to task by critics, and is currently clocking in at 35 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. Neither film is expected to do bang-up business this weekend: totals in the low millions for each seem likely.