Sony’s “Goosebumps,” based on R.L. Stine’s popular anthology series from the 1990s, dominated the box office this weekend, while Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation” saw lower-than-anticipated turnouts after debuting simultaneously online and in limited release.
“Goosebumps,” which stars Jack Black, launched with a solid $23.5 million in the U.S and Canada. It outpaced three other new releases as well as Fox’s “The Martian,” which fell to second place in its third weekend.
The strong opening comes on the heels of Sony’s animated hit “Hotel Transylvania 2,” which brought in $12.25 million in its fourth weekend. Both films benefitted from a dearth of family-friendly films in the marketplace, with young moviegoers making up a large chunk of audiences.
Family audiences also opted to see the book adaptation over Warner Bros.’ “Pan,” which dropped 62% in second weekend. The film, which cost $150 million to make, added just $5.86 million in its second weekend.
“Goosebumps,” which cost $58 million to make, received an A grade from audiences polled by on polling firm CinemaScore — with a majority of the respondents (59%) under the age of 25. It also scored a decent 71% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“It’s a really terrific start,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of distribution. “The film just resonated...it is really fun for all ages and the whole family. It did a great job in translating a franchise to film. Jack Black was also so key to the success of the movie.”
Director Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” which cost $108 million to make, fell 42% and added $21.5 million to its domestic haul.
The space film, starring Matt Damon as a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars, has collected about $143.8 million in the U.S. and Canada to date.
Coming in third, Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” released by Disney, met tracking expectations with a $15.38-million debut.
The Cold War thriller, which stars Tom Hanks as an attorney named James B. Donovan, Donovan, who negotiates for the release of U2 pilot Gary Powers. It was co-financed by DreamWorks and Fox in association with Participant Media.
“The movie is what you would expect from Steven Spielberg, who is one of the most consistent high-quality storytellers in the history of the movie business and has delivered once again,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution. “Combine him with Tom Hanks and you’ve created something that is sticky and electric.”
As expected, the film attracted mostly adults (92%). About 43% of moviegoers were 50 years of age or older. The film also had slightly more male moviegoers (about 53%).
Hollis said older audiences, who normally don’t rush to theaters on opening weekend, were likely more drawn to the subject matter and “period nature of the film.” The studio saw a similar turnout with “Lincoln” in 2012, which Hollis said was “a great start but primarily an older audience start."
Reviews have been strong, with critics giving it an 92% positive rating score on Rotten Tomatoes and A CinemaScore. Hollis is confident the favorable reviews and word-of-mouth will help give the film long legs at the box office.
Legendary’s “Crimson Peak," released by Universal Pictures, finished in fourth with $12.8 million.
The R-rated film, from director Guillermo del Toro, is a gothic romance starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Charlie Hunnam. It cost $55 million to make.
“It’s the only R-rated film in the top five this weekend, which I think speaks to the fact that there’s a lot to offer there,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “But I think there was an audience.”
Moviegoers, mostly female (60%) and 25 and older (55%), gave the film a B- grade on CinemaScore. It also had the lowest Rotten Tomato score of the new offerings with a 68% positive rating.
Carpou said a large draw for moviegoers was del Toro.
“I think there are a lot of directors in the business that make very interesting movies but I think there are fewer directors that make interesting movies and can be generally considered auteurs. Guillermo del Toro is definitely one of those,” Carpou added.
Faith-based indie film “Woodlawn” debuted at No. 9, collecting $4.1 million on 1,500 screens.
The film, from brothers Jon and Andrew Erwin (“Moms’ Night Out”), is based on the 1973 true story of Woodlawn High School Football team, in Birmingham, Ala., in 1973. It stars Sean Astin, Nic Bishop, Caleb Castille, Sherri Shepherd and Jon Voight.
Pure Flix, the film’s distributor, has aggressively positioned it for wide release because of “the significant reception and opportunity to reach audiences with its message of unity through faith,” a spokesman said. The studio’s budget and opening weekend expectations were not disclosed.
Meanwhile, Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” distributed by Bleecker Street Media, didn’t find its theatrical footing in limited release.
The Cary Joji Fukunaga film, based on the 2005 novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, collected $50,699 in 31 theaters, making its per theater average $1,635.
It follows a boy (played by 15-year-old Abraham Attah) after he joins an army of young soldiers under the control of played by Idris Elba.
Still, the Los Gatos-based company’s decision to release the film on the big screen was strategic. The well-reviewed film has generated much buzz for Netflix, helping the streaming giant make its launch into feature filmmaking and distribution.
Netflix, which has 70 million worldwide subscribers, has more movies to come, including Adam Sandler comedy “The Ridiculous Six” (due in December), the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (set for early next year) and the Brad Pitt satire “War Machine” (set for late next year).
Also in limited release, A24’s “The Room” debuted with $120,000 on 4 screens, and the week’s highest per-theater average with $30,000 per screen. The film, based on the bestselling novel by Emma Donoghue, has been generating Oscar buzz since it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September.
Starring Brie Larson, it follows a young woman who has been imprisoned for years in a single room in a tiny shed with her young son (played by Jacob Tremblay) who was born to her there.
Sony Pictures Classics “Truth” also made its limited debut in six theaters to less robust results. It made $76,646 or a per screen average of $12,774.
The film, which stars Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as producer Mary Mapes, follows the “60 Minutes” news team when they aired a controversial report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service.
Year-to-date, the box office is up almost 6%, according to film research firm Rentrak. The strong fall slate will likely help keep the industry on track to reach or surpass box office records.
Next weekend, Universal’s “Steve Jobs” will expand to wide release after performing strongly in its limited run. It made $1.5 million in 60 theaters during its second weekend, bringing its cumulative domestic total to $2.26 million.
Also opening next weekend, Lionsgate’s “The Last Witch Hunter,” Universal’s “Jem and the Holograms,” Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” and Open Road’s “Rock the Kasbah.”
Staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.
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