Box Office: ‘Gone Girl’ sneaks by ‘Annabelle’ for no. 1 and a monster $38 million

It's been well documented how disappointing the box office has been for Hollywood and theater owners this year, but after the results this weekend both institutions finally have something to smile about.

David Fincher's “Gone Girl” was polling at a $25 million or less debut just days before its Friday debut.  Rave reviews, word of mouth and, perhaps, a more potent fan base than anticipated eviscerated that prediction. The 20th Century Fox and New Regency production earned an estimated $38 million making it the biggest opening weekend of Fincher's career. The opening now ranks third all-time for Ben Affleck and second for Tyler Perry (excluding that “Star Trek” cameo).  Even with a head-scratching B Cinemascore “Gone Girl” should easily surpass $100 million domestic and has an excellent shot of earning a best picture nomination.

Right behind “Girl” was “The Conjuring” prequel, “Annabelle.” The horror flick was expected to earn around $30 million, but over performed for a $37 million three-day estimate.  That's tremendous news for Warner Bros. who will make a tidy profit off a thriller that reportedly had just a $6.5 million production budget. A true sequel, “The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist,” is currently scheduled for Oct. 23, 2015.

Dropping to no. 3 was last weekend's champ “The Equalizer.”  The Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington reunion flick earned another $19 million for $64.5 million in just 10 days. The Sony Pictures release held up very well considering the competition and also has an excellent shot of clearing $100 million.

Holing very well at no. 4 was Focus Features and LAIKA's “The Boxtrolls.” The only animated film currently in the market, “Boxtrolls” took in another $12.4 million for $32.5 million to date.  It could come close to “Coraline's” $75 million take when all is said and done.

“The Maze Runner” fell to fifth in its third weekend for another $12 million and $73.9 million overall so far. The Fox Young Adult thriller has already earned over $100 million overseas, but it may be tough to hit that magical mark stateside.

Freestyle Releasing's “Left Behind” opened on just 1,825 theaters and found $6.8 million in its first weekend. While “Behind” reportedly cost only $15 million, the independent distributor spent a significant amount on a TV campaign.  This faith-based thriller may have just picked the wrong release date.

Warner Bros. threw the positively reviewed true story “The Good Lie” to 461 theaters and found just $935,000 million for a $2,028 per screen average.  That has to be disappointing for financier Alcon Entertainment, but they'll hope for word of mouth to kick in as the film expands across the country.  It was also less than the Bollywood release “Bang Bang” which took in $1.2 million in just 241 theaters.

New releases on Friday include “Dracula Untold,” “The Judge,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “Addicted.”