27 October,2014:Â “Ouija” is at the head of the class in more ways than one.
The fright flick not only debuted at No. 1 on the weekend before Halloween, it also became the first movie based on a board game to top the weekend box office.
Admittedly, that’s not a huge category: The only other real examples are 2012’s “Battleship,” which was swamped by the “Avengers” tsunami, and 1985’s “Clue.” (The games “Jumanji” and “Zathura” were both based on the books/movies, not the other way around.)
After a stretch in which critical acclaim and box office success went hand in hand — think “Fury,” “Gone Girl” and “The Equalizer” — this weekend brought a reminder that audiences often ignore movie reviews.
Critics hated “Ouija,” giving it a rancid 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But late October proved to be a perfect time for a horror film about teens using the spirit board to contact a dear departed friend and summoning something much darker instead.
“Ouija” had no problem defeating the weekend’s other new wide release, “John Wick.” The Keanu Reeves action flick received much better reviews but didn’t appeal to as wide an audience. Reeves plays a retired hitman (aren’t they all?) who ventures back into the underworld to set things right.
Among returning films, “Gone Girl” is slipping the least from weekend to weekend. The highly praised drama starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike is up to $124 million, and in a period of rapid box office turnover, it’s the oldest film in the top 10: four whole weekends in release.
The biggest leap up the chart belonged to “St. Vincent,” starring Bill Murray. Success in limited release doesn’t always continue when a movie opens wider, but that’s what happened here: After two weekends in a handful of theaters, the indie comedy co-starring Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts expanded nationwide and pulled in $8.1 million, nearly cracking the top five.
Domestic weekend box office estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co. (final numbers available Monday afternoon):
1. “Ouija” — $20 million
2. “John Wick” — $14.2 million
3. “Fury” — $13 million ($46.1 million total)
4. “Gone Girl” — $11 million ($124.1 million total)
5. “The Book of Life” — $9.8 million ($29.9 million total)