“For adults” is a relative distinction in a marketplace dominated by comic-book adaptations, YA adaptations, and animated features. Still, we’re tempted to celebrate the box-office success of any movie that doesn’t seem specifically targeted at 13-year-olds, even when said success is a middling take on an airport-fiction bestseller. Case in point: The Girl On The Train, which opened to $24.7 million to win the first weekend of October. That’s a good $14 million less than what Gone Girl, its plainest antecedent, made on the same calendar weekend two years ago—a fitting fate, given that Girl On The Train is, by the most generous of accounts, 65-percent less awesome than David Fincher’s Girl-themed whodunit about beautiful missing people. (The quality dip probably begins on the page, but it doesn’t help that they traded the director of Zodiac for the director of The Help.)
It’s been an (again relatively) adult-oriented autumn at the movies, with Deepwater Horizon ($11.7 million), The Magnificent Seven ($9.1 million), and Sully ($5.2 million) continuing to earn the patronage of moviegoers who have been alive long enough to remember staking out their local video store for that just-returned copy of the new Clint Eastwood. The trend may well continue, what with the Ben Affleck-starring The Accountant opening next weekend and a wave of Oscar hopefuls arriving on a week-by-week basis through Christmas. But at least one grown-up-courting event movie didn’t reap the benefits of peak babysitter season: Arriving in theaters on a wave of both buzz and controversy, The Birth Of A Nation landed in sixth place with $7.1 million—nearly $10 million shy of what Fox Searchlight paid to acquire the movie out of Sundance, and only a couple hundred thousand more than what Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life made out of the gate. (Maybe the kids watched that one while their parents subjected themselves to the much worse years of Nat Turner’s life.)
Middle-schoolers doubtlessly helped keep the new Tim Burton movie in the fight, as last week’s winner, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, made another $15 million to hold down the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, the latest from Pixar—a company that prides itself on emotionally destroying moviegoers of all ages—quietly crossed another threshold, as Finding Dory reached $1 billion in global ticket sales, joining Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War on the list of Disney releases to accomplish that feat this year. Maybe this news helps compensate for the poor performance of the Mouse House’s latest sports drama, The Queen Of Katwe, which has made only $5.4 million, despite good reviews and the fact that it’s playing in more than 1,200 theaters in its third weekend of release. Disney, we suspect, may hereafter leave such comparatively mature topics as Ugandan chess champions to the studios eating its box-office dust. Who needs adult appeal when your talking animals are rendering demographics obsolete?
For detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.