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Box office update: 'Annabelle' sneaks ahead of 'Gone Girl'

Annabelle and Gone Girl will exceed expectations as both head for a possible $30+ million showing this weekend.

Though that terrifying doll from The Conjuring took first place on Friday with an estimated $15.5 million, it’s likely that David Fincher’s well-regarded adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller will inch ahead when the weekend totals are tallied. Poorly reviewed horror movies do not age well, even across a single weekend. Interestingly, audiences gave both Annabelle and Gone Girl a B CinemaScore, suggesting that neither lived up to their expectations.

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Box office preview: Will 'Gone Girl' triumph over 'Annabelle'?

It’s a battle of the R-rated thrillers at the box office this week, and though both Gone Girl and Annabelle are tracking similarly, it looks like David Fincher’s literary adaptation may have an edge in both the short and long term.

The Christian-themed action pic Left Behind also opens in under 2,000 theaters, and, as with most faith-based releases, its success or failure is somewhat of a wildcard. Industry tracking can never seem to get a solid handle on the Christian market.

Here’s how things might play out.

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Box office report: 'Equalizer' dominates with impressive $35 million debut

Lots of high fives at the Sony offices today, as their don’t-mess-with-Denzel-Washington revenge flick The Equalizer walked away with a $35 million opening. “We’re really, really happy, but we were very bullish on the movie,” says Rory Bruer, Sony’s President of Worldwide Distribution. “It’s a film that we all love and it just delivers in a big way. Denzel couldn’t be more terrific in the role – you can’t take your eyes off this guy.” The movie’s success—director Antoine Fuqua’s best opening to date, Washington’s third best—is a testament to audience’s appreciation of Washington in tough lone wolf roles. Reviews were decidedly “eh”, but audiences gave the film a hearty A- CinemaScore.  (Women too like their Washington on the fearsome side; females made up 48 percent of the audiences.) The Equalizer fared well in its IMAX release as well, playing on 352 domestic screens and raking in a global IMAX cume of $5 million.

Washington left the other new releases in the dust. The Boxtrolls collected $17.25 million, thereby narrowly ceding the No. 2 spot to last week’s No. 1 The Maze Runner. (The YA adaptation dropped 46.2 percent from last weekend, pulling in $17.5 million. That brings Maze Runner‘s domestic tally to just over $58 million.) Folks behind The Boxtrolls, the first animated film since July, have reason to cheer. The fantastical film, which benefitted from the voices of Tracy Morgan, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, and Ben Kingsley, marked the best debut for animation studio LAIKA (Coraline, Paranorman) and should continue to play well to family-friendly audiences.

Meanwhile audiences craving adult dramedy helped This Is Where I Leave You, the star-studded adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s tragicomic novel, helped keep the movie afloat. In it second week of release the film pulled in $7 million, dropping just 39 percent to hold onto the No. 4 spot.

Rounding out the top five is the earnest-hearted Dolphin Tale 2—starring dolpjins, some innocent-faced children and Morgan Freeman in a snazzy fedora—which squeaked out $4.8 million. Liam Neeson has been on a great roll lately but his latest shoot-em-up A Walk Among the Tombstones dropped out of the top 5, plunging a whopping 67 percent in its second week of release and limping away with $4.2 million. That brings the violent film’s domestic total to $20.9 million.

In limited release, CBS Films gay and labor rights movie PRIDE grossed an admirable $84,791 in six locations. Armed with a solid A CinemaScore, look for word-of-mouth to grow.

Top Five Films of the Weekend:

The Equalizer — $35 million

The Maze Runner — $17.5 million

The Boxtrolls — $17.25 million

This is Where I Leave You — $7 million

Dolphin Tale 2 — $4.8 million

 

Box office update: 'Equalizer' levels competition with nearly $13 million Friday

Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua continue to make an unstoppable duo. The Equalizer, starring a fierce Washington as a former black ops agent drawn back into the game by a troubled prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz) who’s targeted by Russian gangsters, raked in an impressive $12.6 million on Friday. Early bets from Sony low-balled first weekend numbers in the high 20-millions range. Estimates now suggest the movie will pull in closer to $36 million by weekend’s end, buoyed by Washington’s reliable charisma and A- CinemaScore reviews. A sequel is already in the works, which would be the first of Washington’s long and impressive career.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s other wide The Boxtrolls, Focus and Laika’s offering about some fantastical creatures who tenderly raise an orphaned human boy, landed third place with $4.93 million. The stop-motion animated film is looking to pull in a $16 million weekend kitty, which is right in line with studio predictions. It’ll have a shot at grabbing the No. 2 spot if kids turn out as expected on Saturday and Sunday.

In its second week of release, the YA adaptation The Maze Runner pulled in $5.2 million, on track for a $16 million opening. The family drama This is Where I Leave You, an adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s sharp opus of messy grown up siblings gathered together in mourning, takes the fourth spot with $2.2 million and Liam Neeson’s A Walk Among the Tombstones tip toes down to fifth with a modest $1.3 million. Parents looking for some down time keep Dolphin Tale 2 afloat. The wholesome sequel ties at No. 5 with the grisly Walk.

1. The Equalizer  $12.6 million

2. The Maze Runner  $5.2 million

3. The Boxtrolls  $4.9 million

4. This is Where I Leave You  $2.2 million

5. A Walk Among the Tombstones  $1.3 million

5. Dolphin Tale 2 — $1.3 million

Check back here tomorrow morning for a full weekend report.

 

Women still severely underrepresented in film, study finds

Despite efforts to promote gender equality, women are still severely underrepresented in the film industry, according to a new study from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

In a study by USC Annenberg titled “Gender Bias Without Borders,” researchers analyzed the quantity and quality of female roles in 120 of the world’s most popular movies from 2010-2013 (specifically, the top-grossing non R-rated releases in the 10 countries with the biggest film industries). They found that gender inequality is “rampant” in films worldwide and that “not one country is anywhere near representing reality.”

Moviegoers in the combined U.S./U.K. market saw over three times as many men as women onscreen— with women making up just 23.6 percent of the 5,799 speaking roles. And good luck finding a female hero in any country: Fewer than one in four of the films featured a female lead or co-lead.

When ladies are on the big screen, it’s often about the way they look. The study found that female roles — especially characters between the ages of 13 and 20 — are highly sexualized and objectified, with women over twice as likely as men to be shown partially or fully nude, or wearing sexually revealing clothing. Additionally, men in movies frequently talk about the appearance of their female counterparts, with over five times as many comments about physical appearance directed at female characters than male.

But what we see on the screen begins behind the camera—where there are four men for every women, researchers found. Movies directed or written/co-written by a woman, however, had 6.8 percent and 7.8 percent more female characters, respectively.

Of course, the real world hasn’t achieved gender equality, either— but it is much more representative than the ones we create in L.A. backlots. When did movie magic become the act of making women disappear?

Box office preview: 'Maze Runner' teens prepare to battle Liam Neeson

Dylan O’Brien and his fellow gladers face off against Liam Neeson at the box office this weekend as The Maze Runner opens alongside A Walk Among the Tombstones. But, it looks like the teens will triumph in the end.

The star-packed This is Where I Leave you also opens in about 2,868 locations this weekend, as well as a number of smaller releases, including the Kevin Smith horror pic Tusk, the Dan Stevens-led thriller The Guest, the fact-based Tracks, and Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi pic The Zero Theorem. And if you’re a die hard Dan Stevens or Adam Driver fan, both have two movies debuting.

Here’s how things might play out.

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Watch 'Downton Abbey' star Dan Stevens go insane in 'The Guest' trailer

It is not easy to describe the Dan Stevens-starring action-comedy The Guest, which opens in theaters Thursday. You could sayand I havethat the film concerns an army veteran who inveigles his way into the bosom of a grieving family, but that description hardly does it justice, considering the tricksy, mayhem-packed ways of Stevens’ David. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'No Good Deed' is No. 1, 'Guardians' passes $300 million

They might be enemies in No Good Deed, but the combined star power of Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson helped the thriller take control of the box office this weekend. No Good Deed opened in first place with an impressive $24.5 million from 2,175 locations.

Even though mid-week tracking predicted a mid-teens opening for the $13 million pic, this debut wasn’t exactly a surprise for Screen Gems. “We really felt we were going to win. We felt we were in the zone and had a film that people were really going to like,” Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, tells EW. “We were always very high on the film and felt that it would really work. When you put all the elements togethergreat casting with Idris and Taraji, and this very, very suspenseful, taut thriller that Sam Miller deliveredit worked really well.”

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Box office update: 'No Good Deed' outpaces 'Dolphin Tale 2'

A heartfelt tale about a dolphin and the humans who cared for it proved no match for Idris Elba at the box office Friday—even if he’s playing a psychotic escaped con out to terrorize Taraji P. Henson. Of course, No Good Deed and Dolphin Tale 2 aren’t even remotely in competition for the same audience. But in the box office world, for once, adults seem to be forking out more money for their own viewing pleasure.

No Good Deed is on track to beat expectations by at least $7 million. The tense, PG-13 rated thriller from sometimes Luther director Sam Miller took in an estimated $8.8 million Friday from 2,175 locations. It could net out in the $24-$25 million range once the weekend closes out, which would be a terrific result for a pic that cost a reported $13 million to produce. Audiences gave the film a B+ Cinema Score, which isn’t terribly promising for its word-of-mouth potential. Critics have been less kindthe pic currently has a 10 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, audience thirst for a fun thriller is evident.

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Box office preview: Idris Elba and dolphins to enliven slow September

After last weekend’s DOA box office results, audiences are finally getting some new blood in theaters with the family flick Dolphin Tale 2 and Idris Elba’s No Good Deed set to open wide on Friday. The two films could be fighting for the No. 1 spot, too, with various analysts predicting $20 million weekend takes for both. According to Fandango, their ticket pre-sales are nearly identical.

Fox Searchlight is also debuting its James Gandolfini and Tom Hardy crime drama The Drop in around 800 theaters, and the well-reviewed The Skeleton Twins and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them open in limited release, too, giving audiences more options than they’ve had in quite some time in this strange post-blockbuster, pre-awards period.

Here’s how things might play out.

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