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Gone Girl Movie: David Fincher Biggest Debut?

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

‘Gone Girl’ movie 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, 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 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.

Box Office Mojo back online following mysterious disappearance
Box Office Mojo is back online following mysterious disappearance.

Box Office Mojo is back – and how tons of information online can vanish when you least expect it

By now, everyone who cares about movie box office information is aware that the website Box Office Mojo, the Web’s premier source of box office news and data, is back online after disappearing for much of Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-11, ’14.

During that period of total silence, Twitter was abuzz with speculations – a technical glitch? A hacker attack? An alien invasion? – lamentations, and eulogies. For a brief while, the ever-reliable (sarcasm) Wikipedia referred to Box Office Mojo in the past tense.

How did it all happen? Well, sometime on Friday, journalists, bloggers, and box office aficionados noticed that Box Office Mojo was being redirected to an Internet Movie Database page featuring the latest box office information – which, on that site, isn’t either much “latest” or much information at all.

But why would Box Office Mojo be redirected to the IMDb? Well, the IMDb has owned Box Office Mojo since 2008. For its part, the IMDb is owned by Amazon, the online retail behemoth whose CEO is multibillionaire magnate Jeff Bezos.

Box Office Mojo resurfaces

Just as it had mysteriously disappeared, on Saturday evening Box Office Mojo mysteriously reappeared. It was like Michael Apted’s 1979 movie Agatha, when Agatha Christie (played by Vanessa Redgrave) vanishes into thin air and then just as inexplicably reappears again. (Well, in real life that’s more or less how it happened; the movie, by way of Dustin Hoffman’s character, tries to explain what Christie had been up to.)

Anyhow, why bother writing about the Box Office Mojo disappearance two or three days after the fact?

Well, first of all to remark that those who jumped to the conclusion that Box Office Mojo had perished and its corpse was decomposing in some virtual back alley, were, no pun intended, dead wrong. Among those lamenting the demise of Box Office Mojo – without any concrete evidence – were news sites such as TheWrap and Variety (and the news sources that syndicate their content).

Second, Box Office Mojo editor and box office analyst Ray Subers, who took over the site following the departure of founder Brandon Gray, remained mum during the blackout. Not even a tweet to let the site’s fans know what was going on.

Now, was that a blatant disregard for Box Office Mojo’s (and Subers’ own) fans? Hm… not so fast. On Sunday, Subers tweeted the following:

I think it’s about time to resume normal programming here…

Actually, two things. 1) I am 100 percent OK. No health/family/personal issues whatsoever. 2) I will not be answering any Qs re: the past 3 days.

Now, for that normal programming…

(Unfortunately, Subers failed to address another issue: True, Box Office Mojo is back, but his detailed box office analysis was missing this past weekend. So, at least for the time being, “normal programming” hasn’t been quite resumed.)

And finally, bear in mind that Ray Subers’ Box Office Mojo doesn’t own the IMDb and/or Amazon. It’s the other way around.

The dangers of corporate control of information

Pure speculation here, but it’s hard not to believe that during Box Office Mojo’s mysterious disappearance, Subers had to keep his mouth shut and his fingers away from his keypad.

But even if that was not the case, why didn’t the IMDb’s corporate office – or rather, its parent company, Amazon – send out a press release, even if just to issue the usual bullshit that major corporations (and governments) disseminate whenever there’s a serious problem at hand? Corporate arrogance could be the culprit here. Alongside utter, total, complete unprofessionalism and an utter, total, complete disregard for their visitors / readers.

But most troubling of all is how, with one click (to paraphrase the New York Times) – or perhaps with one Apache redirection rule – a website containing thousands and thousands of pages, featuring an infinite number of informational bits that Internet users have relied on and taken for granted for years and years can simply vanish at the whim of an individual, or, more likely, at the whim of a corporation, including, to some extent, the world’s current search-engine oligopoly.

Or at the whim of a government, including the world’s so-called democracies. Just picture Google removing thousands of articles from its search-engine results to abide by the European Union’s “Right to Be Forgotten” law.

If that doesn’t sound scary – even taking into account services such as web.archive.org – you might need to have either your ears or your brain checked. Or both.

Gone Girl Amy Dunne Rosamund Pike
‘Gone Girl’: Amy Dunne played by Rosamund Pike.

Domestic weekend box office

Oh, yes. Now for What Truly Matters: David Fincher’s Gone Girl collected an additional $26.4 million this past weekend, October 10-12, ’14, topping the North American box office chart for the second weekend in a row. The psychological thriller features Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Patrick Fugit.

Next in line was Gary Shore’s $70 million-budgeted Dracula Untold, featuring Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon (going mainstream following David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars and Cosmopolis, among others), Dominic Cooper, and veteran Charles Dance, with $25.51 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to an estimated $62.6 million international cume.

Hardly great ‘Alexander’

In third place was what is usually referred to as a “family comedy”: Miguel Arteta’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which scored a no-good-but-not-very-bad (for a $28 million-budgeted film) $18.36 million at 3,088 locations. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day features Steve Carell, (Ben Affleck’s wife) Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne, Dylan Minnette, Megan Mullally, and Jennifer Coolidge.

John R. Leonetti’s Annabelle was no. 4, with $15.85 million – down a steep but not unexpected 57 percent compared to the previous weekend. Now, what’s most impressive is that Annabelle has already grossed an estimated $60.3 million internationally. Not bad at all for a cheaply made ($6.5 million) – even if not cheaply marketed – horror flick featuring a cast of mostly little-known performers.

The Judge Robert Downey Jr box office flop
‘The Judge’: Robert Downey Jr. box office flop.

Robert Downey Jr. ‘The Judge’ dud

Rounding out the top five movies at the domestic box office this past weekend was David Dobkin’s The Judge, with only $13.11 million, and a mediocre $3,468 per-theater average. Which goes to show that Robert Downey Jr. is hardly a surefire box office draw when not starring in tentpole franchises like Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man.

Also featured in the $50 million-budgeted “adult” drama are Best Actor Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies), Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Dax Shepard, and Balthazar Getty.

The box office figures above were found at, where else, Box Office Mojo. Which is back. And I hope it stays around for a long time.

Image of Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl: 20th Century Fox.

Robert Downey Jr. The Judge image: Warner Bros.

No Good Deed movie Idris Elba
‘No Good Deed’ movie with Idris Elba.

‘No Good Deed’ movie going unpunished to top weekend box office?

Apologies for the bad wordplay above, but if Friday estimates are a reliable indicator, No Good Deed should indeed go unpunished to the top of the domestic box office this weekend, September 12-14, 2014. But why “unpunished”? Well, so far the Sam Miller-directed thriller starring four-time Emmy nominee Idris Elba (Luther) and Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has a downright putrid 10 percent score and 2.6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

Sony Pictures, whose subsidiary ScreenGems is distributing No Good Deed, reportedly opted to skip late Thursday screenings to ensure that the film’s plot twist would be kept under wraps. More likely, however, it was the critics’ derisive remarks that Sony wanted under wraps. For instance: “The final plot twist is about as fiendishly clever as an episode of General Hospital,” writes Rafer Guzman in Newsday. “Is that a spoiler? You’re welcome.”

General Hospital plot twists or no, on Friday, the PG-13-rated No Good Deed collected an estimated $8.8 million at 2,175 locations, averaging a solid $4,046 per theater, while leaving the competition far behind. (More on that below.) Considering its estimated Friday gross – and taking into account an all-but-inevitable Saturday drop – No Good Deed will likely pull in $20-$22 million in the U.S. and Canada; with quite a bit of luck, Sam Miller’s thriller could in fact reach as high as $25 million by Sunday evening. That all depends on whether or not No Good Deed moviegoers agree with the critics’ take on the movie’s twist, or if they see it as something along the lines of Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects or M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, box office update: A remorseless, unrepentant, and unpunished No Good Deed scored a remarkable $24.5 million according to studio estimates released today, averaging $11,264 per site.

Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, box office update: As per official studio figures, Sam Miller’s No Good Deed movie grossed $24.25 million, or only slightly less than the estimate released the previous day.

‘No Good Deed’ budget: A safe box office bet

According to various reports, Sony’s No Good Deed movie was budgeted at only $13.2 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. If that figure is accurate, the film should eventually become – at the very least – a modest domestic hit for the studio.

International prospects for No Good Deed are less rosy – which might help to explain its modest budget. Taraji P. Henson couldn’t in any way be considered a box office draw outside the United States, where she has a following thanks to movies targeting urban black audiences, such as Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys and I Can Do Bad All By Myself, in addition to the sleeper hit Think Like a Man and its sequel, the solid-grossing (but relatively speaking, commercial disappointment) Think Like a Man Too. These movies have bombed internationally – that is, whenever they were lucky enough to find distribution.

Idris Elba No Good Deed Movie
Idris Elba in ‘No Good Deed’ movie.

Idris Elba hardly an international box office draw

Idris Elba, for his part, has done well overseas only as part of visual-effects-laden, ensemble pieces such as Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (with Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, monster robots, monstrous monsters, etc.) and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (with Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, et al.). Elba was also featured in Alan Taylor’s international blockbuster Thor: The Dark World, but that movie’s stars were Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston.

According to the most recent figures found at Box Office Mojo, Idris Elba’s previous big-screen effort, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, collected a quite modest $19.01 million internationally, while his 2009 thriller Obsessed, despite the presence of international singing star Beyoncé Knowles, took in a paltry $5.56 million in about 30 markets (vs. $68.26 million domestically; $11.2 million on opening day alone).

‘No Good Deed’ movie cast

Besides Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, Sony’s No Good Deed movie features Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo, Henry Simmons, Frank Brennan, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Kenny Alfonso, Mirage Moonschein, and Kelly O’Neal. Aimee Lagos was credited for the screenplay about a mentally unbalanced escaped convict (Idris Elba) who makes life quite difficult for a woman (Taraji P. Henson) and her two children. William Packer, whose film credits also include Think Like a Man, and this year’s Think Like a Man Too and Ride Along, produced No Good Deed along with Lee Clay.

Sam Miller is mostly a television director whose credits include Luther and the TV movie The Quatermass Experiment. Miller’s previous big-screen feature film was released 15 years ago: Elephant Juice, with Emmanuelle Béart and Sean Gallagher.

Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ with Chris Pratt.

More domestic weekend box office news: ‘Dolphin Tale 2,’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

Warner Bros.’ Dolphin Tale 2 may reach somewhere around $17-$19 million, following estimated earnings of $4.26 million at 3,656 locations on Friday, for an inauspicious $1,167 per-site average. Kiddie flicks, however, tend to perform much better on weekends; so expect Dolphin Tale 2 to get quite a bit of a box office bump on Saturday and Sunday, thus landing it not that far below the $19.2 million earned by the original Dolphin Tale three years ago.

Just don’t expect the sequel to have nearly as much staying power; Dolphin Tale went on to earn $72.28 million in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to a (reported) more modest $23.11 million internationally. Directed by Charles Martin Smith, the $36 million-budgeted Dolphin Tale 2 stars Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), and veteran Kris Kristofferson (best remembered as Barbra Streisand’s leading man in the 1976 A Star Is Born).

In third place, Disney-Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy added an estimated $2.09 million from 3,104 venues on Friday. Some time earlier today, the James Gunn-directed, $170 million-budgeted fantasy / sci-fier crossed the $300 million mark at the domestic box office. Including its Friday take, Guardians of the Galaxy is expected to pull in $7-7.5 million by Sunday evening. The cast includes Chris Pratt, Avatar‘s Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), six-time Academy Award nominee Glenn Close, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, box office update: Dolphin Tale 2 raked in $16.55 million as per studio estimates, landing at no. 2 on the domestic box office chart. The Dolphin Tale sequel averaged a mediocre $4,527 per theater, which means its big-screen life will be quite a bit shorter than that of its predecessor. At no. 3, Guardians of the Galaxy pulled in an impressive $8.04 million (down only 22 percent from the previous weekend), cuming at $305.92 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, box office update: According to official studio figures, Dolphin Tale 2 actually grossed $15.87 million, averaging only $3,656 per location. On the other hand, the sturdy-legged Guardians of the Galaxy slightly surpassed studio estimates, bringing in $8.1 million. Its current domestic cume stands at $305.98 million.

Idris Elba No Good Deed movie images: ScreenGems / Sony Pictures.

Chris Pratt Guardians of the Galaxy image: Marvel / Walt Disney Studios.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay
‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’ poster featuring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen.

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ trailer

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay trailer – or more specifically, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 trailer – has been around for a little while. So this is one of those better-late-than-never posts.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, who also handled the previous film in the franchise, Catching Fire, Mockingjay - Part 1 brings back Best Actress Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne. Below you can watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay trailer titled “The Mockingjay Lives.”

As you can see in the trailer, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 revolves around subversive revolutionary and freedom fighter Katniss Everdeen, who sets out to rescue Peeta, a sort of prisoner whose “uniform” is a funky white costume. Four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore plays President Alma Coin, who very much wants to keep Katniss on her side.*

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’ cast

Besides Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Julianne Moore, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 cast includes the following:

Woody Harrelson. Elisabeth Banks. Stanley Tucci. Donald Sutherland. Jeffrey Wright. Sam Claflin. Toby Jones. Willow Shields. Jena Malone. Mahershala Ali. Elden Henson.

Also in the cast: Best Actor Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), who died last February. Hoffman plays Plutarch Heavensbee.

Danny Strong (The Butler, Game Change) and Peter Craig (The Town, Blood Father 2015) are credited for the screenplay adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel.

Release dates

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opens in about ten countries, including Belgium, Brazil,** Denmark, France, The Netherlands, and The Philippines on Nov. 19, ’14. The following day, it debuts in a couple of dozen other territories. And on Nov. 21, the film will finally get its domestic theatrical release. Part 2‘s release date is Nov. 20, ’15.

Julianne Moore Oscar nominations

* For the record: Julianne Moore’s Oscar nominations were for the following movies:

  • Best Supporting Actress for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997).
  • Best Actress for Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair (1999).
  • Best Actress for Todd HaynesFar from Heaven (2002).
  • Best Supporting Actress for Stephen Daldry’s The Hours (2002).

Additionally, Moore is a likely contender for the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a woman suffering from the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice.

Biggest release ever in Brazil

** Note from the editor: This third installment in the Hunger Games franchise will enjoy the biggest film release ever in Brazil – that’s about 1,400 venues, or more than half of all Brazilian theaters.

The previous widest release in that country was that of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Directed by Bill Condon and starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, the Twilight Saga‘s final installment debuted in about 1,300 locations, eventually becoming one of the biggest box office hits ever in the South American nation.

Needless to say, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 will surely turn out to be another major blockbuster at the Brazilian box office.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay trailer and poster: Lionsgate Films.

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