An aggressive social-media marketing campaign that included the first-ever Snapchat ad helped Ouija make $20 million at the box office this weekend, box office presumably driven mostly by teenagers looking for a dark place to make out. That put Ouija at No. 1 despite nearly uniformly terrible reviews, unlike the No. 2 film, John Wick, which surpassed expectations by making $14.5 million over the weekend on the strength of positive reviews and good word-of-mouth.
The rest of the top five was rounded out by holdovers Fury, Gone Girl, and The Book Of Life, neatly dropping down from No. 1, 2, and 3 to No. 3, 4, and 5. Gone Girl’s total is now up to $124.1 million in its 4th week, staying on track to become David Fincher’s highest-grossing film to date (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button topped out at $127.5 million).
Expanding to 2,282 theaters brought the Bill Murray vehicle St. Vincent to No. 6, pulling in $8 million from moviegoers, each of them secretly hoping Murray himself would show up to the theater and offer them some of his Junior Mints before scampering off into the night. In limited release, Dear White People came in at No. 15 with $1.31 million, right behind Birdman’s $1.44 million. Birdman pulled in an impressive $28,720 at each of its 50 screens, a positive omen for its expansion this coming weekend. (Ouija grossed an average of $7,000 per screen and John Wick $5,465.) The Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour and Lynn Shelton’s Laggies also did solid business in limited release, grossing $125,000 and $78,500 on five screens apiece.
Another interesting development this weekend is the poor performance of faith-based football drama 23 Blast, which debuted at No. 19 with a disappointing $402,000 over 617 screens (God’s Not Dead, in comparison, pulled in just over $9 million on 780 screens in its opening weekend). Is the Christian movie trend starting to run its course, or are religious moviegoers simply sitting out Halloween, preparing to re-emerge during the Christmas season? Only Saving Christmas will tell.