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Hollywood's lucrative holiday movie season kicked off with two event films which both connected with their respective audiences delivering a potent one-two punch driving the box office to its best sales in three months. Disney's animated action-comedy Big Hero 6 opened at number one with an estimated $56.2M from 3,761 locations for a muscular $14,943 average.
Halloween madness put a curse on the North American box office which sunk to a seven-week low with all wide releases failing to reach $11M for the weekend or a $4,000 average. Two films tied for the number one spot in a race that was too close to call with weekend estimates so final numbers to be reported on Monday will tell which movie takes the crown - newcomer Nightcrawler or horror holdover Ouija. Either way, it will be an unimpressive victory.
This weekend, With Halloween approaching, young women powered the supernatural thriller Ouija to the top of the North American box office with a solid opening of an estimated $20M. It's the third horror film in four weeks to deliver strong results, but the first to hit number one. For the first time in six years Keanu Reeves made it to the top two spots at the box office landing in second place with the opening of his new action thriller John Wick which debuted to an estimated $14.2M.
Brad Pitt's World War II tank film Fury topped the North American box office charts opening to an estimated $23.5M for Sony. The brutal R-rated drama averaged a sturdy $7,406 from 3,173 locations and opened in between the $22M of George Clooney's The Monuments Men from February and the $25.7M of Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips from this same month last year. All skewed to an older adult audience using an A-list actor as the anchor.
In another tight race for pole position at the box office, Gone Girl repeated as champ while a bevy of newcomers took over half of the top 10, all with decent to very strong debuts. After a humdrum summer, autumn is bringing new life into the box office as nine films grossed over $6M this weekend.
This weekend, it was a close race for first place at the North American box office between two new releases but one thing was certain -- both films overperformed and led the marketplace to the highest-grossing October weekend in history.
North American audiences came out in big numbers to see Denzel Washington fight for the little guy as his latest action thriller The Equalizer opened at number one selling an estimated $35M worth of tickets. It was the third largest debut of the double Oscar winner's career behind just American Gangster ($43.6M in 2007) and Safe House ($40.2M in 2012) and proved once again how bankable and consistent he is as a box office draw. Over the past decade, every single one of Washington's 12 starring vehicles has debuted north of $20M and was among the top three for its opening weekend. Half of them reached the number one spot.
The latest young-adult-novel-to-film took control of the box office as The Maze Runner more than doubled its nearest competitor, while films with much more star power opened quietly in second and third.
The home invasion thriller No Good Deed stormed the North American box office and delivered a sensational debut taking the number one spot and energizing a marketplace in need of excitement. Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, the PG-13 film debuted to an estimated $24.5M from 2,175 locations and averaged a sizzling $11,264 per location. Sales were driven by adult women with the leads flexing some starpower (plus taking Executive Producer credits) and engaging fans actively on social media to create must-see buzz.
With kids back in school, football returning, and studios opting not to open any major films, the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in 13 years. The Top 20 struggled to reach a miserable $58.8M - the lowest point the film industry has seen since the weeks just after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001.
This weekend, Labor Day brought an end to another summer movie season on a slow note with the Marvel overachiever Guardians of the Galaxy leading the way again grossing an estimated $22.2M over the long Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend in its fifth frame. Three of those frames were spent at number one.
Marvel's misfit heroes were once again the most popular outlaws in North American theaters as the franchise-launching blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy held up exceptionally well in its fourth frame to reclaim the number one spot. The Disney release dipped only 30% to an estimated $17.6M which was enough to surpass all competitors this weekend.
Averaging less than $1M per person listed above the title on the poster, The Expendables 3 crashed and burned settling for a fourth place finish while overperformers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy continued their strong run atop the box office. Overall, the August box office came back down to normal numbers after two extremely strong weekends to open the month.
The reborn heroes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles conquered the North American box office as the franchise flick beat industry expectations to open at number one with an estimated $65M. It was the fourth biggest opening weekend ever in the month of August and soared about $20M above what the film biz was expecting. Summer has been light on kidpics and audiences came out in droves for Turtles which began as a movie franchise in 1990 with a record debut for its time.
Marvel enjoyed one of the film industry's most amazing openings in recent years, and silenced any doubters, with a record-breaking top spot debut for the new super hero adventure Guardians of the Galaxy which led the overall box office to the largest August weekend in box office history.
Scarlett Johansson's brains beat Dwayne Johnson's brawn in a head-to-head showdown between star-driven summer action films. The sci-fi thriller Lucy attracted a larger crowd and captured the number one spot while the epic adventure Hercules enjoyed a fine debut in the runner-up spot connecting with its own fan base. Overall ticket sales were about even with last week, but fell below last year's levels for the seventh consecutive weekend.
Caesar still ruled the North American box office as the well-liked action film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled in the most ticket sales for a second frame at number one beating out three new releases over another sluggish session for what Hollywood chose to offer up this summer.
Grossing more than the next 15 films combined, the new sci-fi sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conquered the North American box office with an estimated $73M opening. The Fox tentpole averaged a muscular $18,402 from 3,967 locations and took advantage of stellar reviews, low competition in the marketplace, and a built-in audience which liked its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes from three summers ago. Dawn opened 33% better than Rise.
The Independence Day holiday session was lacking in box office fireworks as the Autobots tentpole Transformers: Age of Extinction led the marketplace for a second straight time while new releases brought one good debut and a handful of lackluster ones that paying audiences were mostly uninterested in.
This weekend, the fourth round of Autobots destruction conquered the global box office as the Michael Bay sequel Transformers: Age of Extinction scored the largest opening of 2014 both domestically and worldwide. The PG-13 film which featured a new cast led by Mark Wahlberg scored a domestic opening weekend of an estimated $100M.