After plenty of mid-production and pre-opening hoopla, "Gone Girl's" box office was undoubtedly solid upon opening this weekend. The David Fincher thriller surpassed some forecasts that had it opening below $30 million to land at $38 million, narrowly edging out the weekend's other wide opener, "Annabelle," the first of the coming crop of supernatural movies. ("Dracula Untold" and "Ouija" await; we can sense your excitement.)
How much of a triumph is the Fincher film? Studio Fox, on a roll after a summer of "X-Men" and "Apes" and faults in stars, can and has claimed it as a triumph. With a budget of about $60 million, the totals should land the studio in the black when all is said and done, no matter the marketing costs. But there are successes and there are successes. Here are some data points that put in context, favorably and less so, notions about "Gone Girl's" performance.
-- It's Fincher's biggest opening ever, some pundits noted. Indeed it is-- and by this point in the director’s career (10 movies and counting) that’s no small thing. Still, it’s worth keeping a number of qualifiers in mind. That statement is true only if you don’t factor in inflation (“Panic Room" made $40 million in today's dollars). And the biggest opening won't necessarily mean the biggest cume: three previous Fincher movies reached $100 million in the U.S. (”Se7en, “
-- It’s also no small thing when an auteur of Fincher's caliber, making a serious movie of this type, can win the weekend. You have to go back more than six months to find a comparable weekend winner (
-- Speaking of those, where does "Gone Girl" stack up to other recent big-budget adaptations of popular adult fiction? Pretty favorably, it turns out. The movie fell short of “Shutter Island’s” opening ($41 million) but beat out “The Help,” “Eat Pray Love” and even “
-- Running time. Some will note that the film’s performance should be graded on the curve of its 145-minute running time. This is a frequent question this time of year—will movies of especially robust running times turn off filmgoers, not to mention reduce grosses by limiting daily numbers of screenings? Turns out that running time isn’t as much of a hindrance as these comments suggest. The top three live-action movies last year (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “
-- Here's a real breakthrough, and one studios hopefully take notice of. With $38 million, "Gone Girl," adapted solely by author Gillian Flynn, becomes only the third weekend winner this year not to feature a male writer ("Maleficent" and "The Other Woman" were the other two).