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article image'Ouija' summons up a win

By Tim O'Brien     Oct 26, 2014 in Entertainment
A movie based on a board game took over the box office with an estimated $19.8 million. It provided movie-goers with the Halloween flavor as the holiday approaches.
But, in all honestly, it was and is a weak win for the top dog. However, with the low budget for "Ouija," it is a hit. Word has it that Universal took the idea for the film from being a blockbuster horror film to a low-budget hit. That was all that matters as it did what was expected. If the was going to be a budgeted blockbuster, the total would have disappointed.
In second was the other newcomer, "John Wick" starring Keanu Reeves. With $14 million and the lower theater count, it was very strong vehicle for Reeves. But these top films make the box office look more like a January or February rather than October.
The Wrap noted that the audience for "Ouija" was mainly women and younger. It was 61 percent women. Of that total, 75 percent were under the age of 25. In contrast, "John Wick" was mostly male and over the age of 25. Reeves as hit man provided him a hit.
Weekend
1. "Ouija" - $19.8 million
2. "John Wick" - $14.15 million
3. "Fury" - $13 million
4. "Gone Girl" - $11.1 million
5. "Book of Life" - $9.8 million
"Fury" and Brad Pitt held on to third with another solid win for a war film in its second weekend., while "Gone Girl" stayed steady. It was "Book of Life" which finished fifth and for that style of animation was fine, but in no way is it in blockbuster animation territory.
The percentage drops are lower for certain films if they did not achieve a huge first weekend, so that is a of good news to seek out. For example, a 40-43 percent drop for "Book of Life" is a solid hold but it didn't have a huge, Disney-style animated opening.
With the top three films being geared to certain audiences, it left the family crowd to fend for leftovers. Sure, they did go to "Book of Life" and "Alexander," but more of an afterthought or simply for a reason to go out. The total for "Book of Life" is near $30 million and if that would have been the number in its first weekend, the buzz would still be on the film It isn't. However, Halloween arrives next weekend, so a surge may happen.
It is a time when slow release schedules are noticed as award season deadlines loom. Studios need to get the films out and that often means a glut of releases now but they are not in as many theaters. It is also the time when the campaigns start heating up, so even though a trailer is seen, the movie may never show up in that town.
Take for example "Citizenfour." The story of Edward Snowden grabbed an estimated $125,172 from five screens. That works out to roughly $25,000 per screen. A solid start but, again only in five theaters. Another is "St. Vincent" starring Melissa McCarthy and a determined Bill Murray. He may not be campaigning for Oscar, but others are doing that for him, including many critics. This movie started in small release and then expanded. It took in $8.6 million on that expansion.
After Oscar nominations, one will see a different marketing campaign. That will be the case for many films, of course. The smaller films are the ones that many simply do not see in theaters. There huge per screen averages likely take place in New York, L.A. and other large cities.
"Birdman" starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton took in $1.44 million on 50 screens. Those two can all but punch their ticket to Oscars nominations in actor and supporting actor categories. The real question is, will this play on a large scale and be huge? It is an inside film, for the most part, and those who work in the industry will see it and appreciate it on a different level.
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