Weekend Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ Had Fincher’s Career-Best Opening (And Barely Beat A Scary Doll Movie)

David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (our review) brought in an estimated $38 million in domestic box office over the weekend, not quite Guardians of the Galaxy numbers, but enough to prove that making good movies aimed at thinking adults can still be worthwhile as an economic strategy. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Annabelle, a hastily put-together scary doll movie written by guys who were probably shrugging the whole time, earned $37.2 million, proving that it goes to show you never can tell.

Gone Girl‘s $38 million (on a $61 million budget), no doubt helped by anticipation from readers of the best-selling book, was David Fincher’s career best opening. His previous best? You guessed it, Panic Room, with $30.1 million in 2002. Including the 39 overseas markets, Gone Girl, aka Gong Earl, brought in $62.6 million. Meanwhile, Annabelle cost just $6.5 million to make, and came out barely a year after its predecessor, The Conjuring. Both films did far better than expected and ended all the “moviegoing is dead” talk from a few months ago. Amazing what a movie that’s actually good can do.

it’s the second time in history that an October weekend has given us two $30m+ debuts, with the first being back in 2008 when High School Musical 3 ($42m) and Saw V ($31m) [opened.]

[Gone Girl] played 60% female and 75% over-25 years old. It played 67% Caucasian, 11% African-American, 11% Asian or “other,” and 10% Hispanic. [Forbes]

Surprisingly, the film received a relatively negative B Cinemascore (the same as Annabelle), proving that you can never trust a test audience’s opinion on anything ever, unless it’s to guide you on how to do the exact opposite. What ultimately killed any envy I had for trial lawyers was the realization that they essentially spend their careers pleading their cases before a jury, the ultimate focus group. Imagine trying to get inside the psyche of a group who thinks a movie’s bad if it has a villain. Nightmare.

Elsewhere, Nic Cage’s adaptation of Left Behind, from the same people who brought us Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind, earned just $6.8 million. You could speculate that the devout were busy watching Gone Girl or Annabelle, or you could simply assume that the target audience for Left Behind already saw Left Behind, which seems to me the safer assumption.

Next week brings us The Judge (awful), Addicted, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and Dracula Untold, which is great, because I’m dying to know what part of the Dracula story they’ve been keeping from us for all these years. Maybe he’s secretly a dinosaur? That would be cool.

[Forbes, THR, BoxOfficeMojo]