Weekend Report: 'Nightcrawler,' 'Ouija' in Dead Heat Over Halloween
With weekend actuals reporting, Ouija narrowly held on to first place ahead of Nightcrawler over Halloween weekend.

Meanwhile, Before I Go To Sleep and the Saw 10th anniversary re-release each bombed.

The Top 12 earned just shy of $80 million, which makes this one of the slowest weekends of the year. That can partly be attributed to the "Halloween effect": moviegoers were preoccupied with other activities on Friday, which set the weekend back quite a bit.

This is a chicken-and-egg sort of thing, though: fearing this Halloween effect, the big studios avoided the date entirely. Had someone stepped up to the plate with a broadly appealing offering, the aggregate box office wouldn't be nearly as low.

Sunday estimates had Nightcrawler and Ouija tied with $10.9 million. Open Road Films had Nightcrawler earning $9,000 more than Ouija, though other sources suggested Ouija came out on top. When actuals reported on Monday actuals, Ouija had the edge by around $300,000.

Ouija eased 46 percent to $10.74 million this weekend. That's a fantastic hold for a supernatural horror movie: similar genre entries tend to drop at least 55 percent in their second outings. This is particularly baffling given the movie's horrible reviews and poor word-of-mouth, and a teenage audience that doesn't tend to show up after opening weekend.

To date, Ouija has earned a solid $34.8 million, and could wind up at $50 million by the end of its run.

Nightcrawler's $10.44 million debut is noticeably lower than star Jake Gyllenhaal's End of Watch ($13.2 million), and is also a tad below Drive (2011) ($11.3 million). It also fell short of last weekend's John Wick ($14.4 million).

Still, the fact that this managed to hit $10 million should be considered a minor win. The movie had reviews on its side, but little else: it was hard to get a sense for the story, and Gyllenhaal's unhinged lead character was tough to get behind. Open Road Films did a decent job positioned it as a fast-paced, unique thriller, and the lack of competition surely helped a bit as well.

While reviews are fantastic (94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), moviegoers were less impressed: they gave Nightcrawler a poor "B-" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth will be mixed. Ultimately, look for this to wrap up with around $30 million.

Fury (2014) added $8.8 million this weekend, which brings its 17-day total to $60.2 million. Not far behind was Gone Girl, which eased 23 percent to $8.5 million. On Sunday, Gone Girl passed star Ben Affleck's Argo at the domestic box office ($136.3 million vs. $136 million).

The Book of Life rounded out the Top Five with $8.2 million ($40.4 million total). Last weekend's second place title, John Wick, fell to sixth this weekend with $8 million. Through 10 days, the Keanu Reeves action movie has taken in $27.5 million.

St. Vincent earned $7.23 million this weekend, which is off just seven percent from last weekend. It only had a minor theater expansion (2,552 vs. 2,282), so this qualifies as a pretty fantastic hold. Word-of-mouth is clearly strong on this title: it's earned $19 million so far, and is now guaranteed to end up north of $40 million total.

Birdman expanded to 231 theaters and earned $2.39 million (per-theater average of $10,348). Fox Searchlight is planning to expand the movie to nearly double that theater count next weekend, putting it in the range of 425 to 450 locations.

Playing at 1,902 theaters, Nicole Kidman/Colin Firth thriller Before I Go to Sleep opened to a very poor $1.84 million. That's well below the first two movies from Clarius Entertainment: And So It Goes ($4.64 million) and Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return ($3.75 million).

Saw 10th Anniversary took in $650,051 from 2,063 theaters. That's one of the worst debuts ever for a movie playing at over 2,000 theaters: the only titles that earned less are last year's Oogielovers In The BIG Balloon Adventure ($443,901) and 2008's Delgo ($511,920).

Assuming a ticket price of $8, Saw 10th Anniversary sold an average of 39 tickets per theater this weekend.

Continued with the Around-the-World Roundup >>

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This Weekend's Forecast:

'Ouija' Set to Spook 'John Wick' This Weekend

This Weekend in Past Years

• 2013 - Good 'Grandpa,' Bad 'Counselor'

• 2012 - 'Argo' Ahead of Four Dreadful Debuts

• 2011 - 'Puss' Purrs Softly

• 2010 - 'Saw' Sharpens with "Final Chapter," 'Paranormal Activity' Fades

• 2009 - 'Michael Jackson' Strikes Top Spot

• 2008 - 'Zack and Miri,' 'Changeling' Contribute to Bleak Halloween

• 2007 - 'Saw IV' Loses Little Blood

• 2006 - 'Saw' Sharp in Third Outing

• 2005 - 'Saw II' Gores 'Zorro' on Halloween Weekend

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