'Ouija' a Halloween hit
NEW YORK (AP): The spirits moved Ouija to number one at the box office, with the board-game adaptation leading the weekend with a US$20 million debut, according to studio estimates yesterday.
The horror movie release, timed to coincide with Halloween, attracted more moviegoers at the North America box office than the violent Keanu Reeves thriller, John Wick. The R-rated hitman revenge tale from Lionsgate opened in second place with US$14.2 million.
Last week's top film, the Brad Pitt World War II action film, Fury, slid to third with US$13 million. In two weeks, the Sony Pictures release has made US$46.1 million.
Board game adaptations such as Ouija have had a chequered history at the box office, with the big-budget Battleship - the last Hasbro game turned into a movie - famously flopping in 2012. But Oujia, made by Blumhouse Productions and released by Universal Pictures, was made for just US$5 million and scared up moviegoers with a micro-budget summoning of brand-name occult.
Universal also could claim the top spot in the world's other top market, China, where the Scarlett Johansson sci-fi film Lucy opened with US$19 million. Since opening in July, Lucy has made US$434 million worldwide, proving the global appeal of Johansson.
Two Fox releases rounded out the domestic top five. David Fincher's marital noir, Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, made US$11.1 million in its fourth week, bringing its cumulative total to US$124 million. It will soon pass Fincher's Benjamin Button (US$127.5 million) to mark the director's top box-office hit.
In its second week of release, the animated fantasy The Book of Life earned US$9.8 million.
As Hollywood's awards season begins to heat up, limited-release titles also made noise at the box office. Easily leading all films in per-screen average were Alejandro Inarritu's comedy, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), starring Michael Keaton, and the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour.
Laura Poitras' Citizenfour drew a US$25,000 average opening in five cinemas for the Weinstein Company's Radius unit. Expanding to 50 cinemas in its second week, Fox Searchlight's Birdman took in an average of almost US$29,000 per screen.
Next weekend's top film is essentially already decided. Christopher Nolan's space travel thriller Interstellar, one of the year's most anticipated releases, opens in select cinemas on Wednesday and then wider release on Friday. Nolan, an ardent advocate for film, is releasing the movie first in about 240 cinemas that still project 35mm or 70mm, rather than digital.
The following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at United States and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak.
1. Ouija, US$20 million.
2. John Wick, US$14.2 million.
3. Fury, US$13 million.
4. Gone Girl, US$11.1 million.
5. The Book of Life, US$9.8 million.
6. St Vincent, US$8.1 million.
7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, US$7 million.
8. The Best of Me, US$4.7 million.
9. The Judge, US$4.3 million.
10. Dracula Untold, US$4.3 million.