Producer Jason Blum continues to be one of the biggest, most profitable names in horror, as his latest spook-fest, the low-budget thriller Ouija, debuted in the top spot in the weekend before Halloween. (Any other month of the year, and it may not have scared up the same amount of business.) With an estimated $20 million take, the title debuted in the middle of the horror-movie range. It beat out past scary, non-sequel October titles like Carrie ($16.1 million) and Sinister ($18 million), but was at about half the rate of anticipated franchise names like Annabelle ($37.1 million) and Paranormal Activity 2 ($40.7 million).
With a no-name cast and miserable reviews, Ouija relied entirely on its late October release date and heavy marketing (especially with its trailer attached to this month’s horror hit, Annabelle) to draw in curious moviegoers. Critics hated the film and audiences have not been kind to it either, giving Ouija a C CinemaScore. With a PG-13 rating, it is of little surprise that 75% of the audience was under the age of 25 this weekend, while a reported 61% were females. Of more surprise was how the film actually made more money on Saturday than on Friday, if you take off Thursday night grosses from the film’s $8.3 million take on opening day (which counts in the previous night’s preview gross). For a horror movie, that is quite rare.
Despite a lot of other choices for adults in theaters, John Wick, the R-rated action-thriller starring Keanu Reeves, had a solid debut in second place, grossing $14.2 million. Considering heavy competition from Fury, Birdman and a flurry of other titles aimed at older males this month, the film was lucky to reach those double-digit heights. Keanu Reeves has been out doing heavy promotion for this film, which despite generic trailers, has received strong reviews and Internet buzz. Of course, online excitement does not always translate to a sizeable opening weekend (as fans of Dredd can testify).
Unfortunately though, Keanu Reeves is not the box-office draw he used to be. John Wick‘s total from its first three days is about identical to 47 Ronin ($14.2 million) from the same period, although that film carried with it a much heftier price tag. The film also debuted above the opening of his modest action hit Street Kings ($12.6 million) from the spring of 2008. Unlike Ouija, John Wick catered mostly to males (60% of the audience) and those over 25 (77%). With a mediocre B CinemaScore and the release of Interstellar in a couple of weeks, John Wick will hope to do well over Halloween weekend.
In third place was Fury, which dropped a bit stronger than expected after good weekday grosses. With $13 million in its sophomore weekend, it dipped 45%, which is a bit worrisome for a film with great buzz and word-of-mouth. In comparison, The Monuments Men dropped only 30% in its sophomore weekend – although it had Valentine’s Day to stabilize its hold. Fury‘s very good holds during the week could have been a sign that the film is catering to older veterans, who are out-of-work and can see a movie on any day. Regardless, the film has made $46.1 million so far and should do well internationally due to Brad Pitt’s star power. The film should finish with between $70 and $75 million.