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'Gone Girl': David Fincher Biggest Debut?

Gone Girl David Fincher Ben Affleck'Gone Girl': David Fincher directs Ben Affleck.

'Gone Girl' weekend box office: Biggest David Fincher opening weekend ever?

Directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is expected to top the North American box office this weekend, Oct. 3-5, '14, while boasting Fincher's biggest domestic opening ever. Or maybe not – if the demonic doll Annabelle has her say and if one takes into account one pesky but, would you believe it, quite important detail. More on that further below.

The $61 million-budgeted mystery thriller Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck – not to be confused with the mystery thriller Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck – collected a healthy $1.25 million from Thursday night screenings at 2,370 sites. For comparison's sake: the Tom Hanks PG-13-rated sociopolitical thriller Captain Phillips debuted with $600,000 on Thursday night in early October 2013, eventually grossing $25.71 million on its first weekend out.

Now, unlike Captain Phillips, the R-rated Gone Girl is a “family movie,” in that it's about a family gone to shreds; Ben Affleck plays a man who may have murdered his missing wife (Rosamund Pike). North American moviegoers surely can relate more to that sort of topic – how many husbands would like to have their wives dead (or at least in prison) and/or vice versa? – than to the plight of U.S. captains and Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Also, let's not forget that Gone Girl is based on a hugely popular bestselling novel; author Gillian Flynn, in fact, is credited for the film's screenplay. As a result, by Sunday evening Gone Girl will surely have beaten Captain Phillips' opening-weekend gross, easily surpassing the $30 million mark at 3,014 U.S. and Canada locations.

Ben Affleck vs. Sandra Bullock-CGI combo

Now, here's another early October box office comparison: also in 2013, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, collected $1.4 million from Thursday showings, going on to score a whopping $55.78 million on its domestic weekend debut. Gravity's opening-weekend take, however, will in all likelihood remain out of reach for Gone Girl.

After all, despite the stellar commercial and awards-season performance of the eventual Best Picture Academy Award winner Argo, Ben Affleck doesn't quite yet have the box office pull of a Sandra Bullock-CGI combo. (Perhaps that'll change after the release of the upcoming Batman v Superman movie.) Having said that, no one should be too surprised if Gone Girl opens above the $40 million mark. Distributor 20th Century Fox claims it's expecting a domestic opening around $20 million; if you're so inclined, feel free to believe they actually mean it.

'Gone Girl': David Fincher biggest opening weekend ever?

David Fincher, who some see as Orson Welles, Sergei Eisenstein, Alfred Hitchcock, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Ingmar Bergman rolled into one (it really doesn't take much these days), has directed several prestigious box office performers in the last few years. These are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; The Social Network (2010), with Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield; and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in this remake of the Swedish blockbuster. None of the aforementioned titles opened above the $30 million mark, though in large part thanks to (generally) solid reviews and awards-season buzz, all three went on to gross over $95 million in the U.S. and Canada, with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cuming at $127.5 million.

Now, if Gone Girl does indeed score $35-$40 million at the North American box office, will that make it David Fincher's biggest opening-weekend movie ever? Well, if you live on a planet where inflation is nonexistent, then the answer is a resounding Yes.

Fincher's biggest opening-weekend grosser to date is the suspense thriller Panic Room, starring Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, and Kristen Stewart, and which debuted with $30.05 million back in 2002. Minor detail: in 2014 U.S. dollars, Panic Room would have collected $42 million in its first three days, which, if I may add, didn't include Thursday evening screenings. Really, record-breaking movies just ain't what they used to be.

So, for Gone Girl to truly become a bona fide David Fincher-directed, opening-weekend box office record-breaker (apologies for all the consecutive hyphenated words), it'll have to gross at least $43 million by Sunday night. Not too likely, but definitely not an impossibility. We'll soon find out.

Update: David Fincher's Gone Girl debuted with $37.51 million in North America – in other words, behind the inflation-adjusted opening-weekend domestic gross of Panic Room.

Annabelle movie horror'Annabelle' movie: Horror flick scaring up domestic box office.

'Gone Girl' vs. 'Annabelle'

At first glance, this may look like a battle between two movies centering on women. Well, not quite. Gone Girl chiefly revolves around Ben Affleck's character, while Annabelle is a possessed doll. Anyhow, although Gone Girl is expected to top the North American box office chart this weekend, New Line's Annabelle should be the no. 1 movie on Friday. Including estimated its Thursday evening gross of $2.1 million, Annabelle could well reach $14-15 million on its “first” day out, while Gone Girl should bring in $12-13 million.

Since horror movies tend to be frontloaded, barring phenomenal word of mouth, chances are Annabelle, screening at 3,185 sites, will take a tumble on the weekend proper. And that means Gone Girl should, as explained above, top the domestic box office chart this weekend. Note: In case both Gone Girl and Annabelle surpass the $30 million mark, that'll be the first time two movies have achieved that feat on the same (domestic) weekend since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battled Guardians of the Galaxy in early August.

Official Friday box office estimates come out on Saturday morning. Official weekend box office estimates will be released on Sunday morning. Weekend box office actuals come out on Monday.

Update: Annabelle opened with an impressive $37.13 million – or nearly as much as the much costlier and much more prestigious Gone Girl.

'Gone Girl' and 'Annabelle' cast

Besides Ben Affleck as the did-he-or-did-he-not husband and Rosamund Pike as the is-she-or-is-she-not wife, Gone Girl features Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry (not in drag), Carrie Coon, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Missi Pyle, Casey Wilson, Emily Ratajkowski, and Boyd Holbrook.

Directed by John R. Leonetti from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman, Annabelle features Annabelle Wallis (not in the title role), Ward Horton, Kerry O'Malley, Tony Amendola, Brian Howe, Eric Ladin, Ivar Brogger, and veteran Alfre Woodard (Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee for Cross Creek, 1983).

 

A couple of key sources used for this Annabelle and Gone Girl box office article: Variety and Box Office Mojo.

Image of Ben Affleck directed by David Fincher on Gone Girl set: 20th Century Fox.

Annabelle movie image: New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.


         
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