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US Box Office

Box Office: 'Ouija' tops charts, 'John Wick' surprises
By Brent Lang, Variety.com

Low-budget chiller "Ouija" scared up the most ticket sales this weekend, but the strength of Keanu Reeves' "John Wick" was the biggest box office surprise.

"Ouija" benefited from audiences looking to get into the Halloween spirit by topping charts with $20 million from 2,858 locations. The brain child of Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes and "Paranormal Activity" maestro Jason Blum, "Ouija" cost less than $5 million to produce, setting Universal Pictures, the studio behind the seance horror film, up for some enviable profit margins.

Going into the weekend, "John Wick" looked like a dud. Reeves, still reeling from the epic flop that was "47 Ronin," griped that studios no longer offered him plum roles and the action thriller looked like another nail in his career coffin. But reviews for the film about a hit man avenging the murder of his puppy were sterling, propelling the picture to $14.1 million across 2,589 locations. That was much more robust than the $7 million to $8 million opening most analysts projected the revenge thriller would make.

The film played well in Imax, with the wide screen format accounting for $2.5 million or 18% of its haul.

In its second weekend in theaters, Brad Pitt's World War II tank drama "Fury" fell 45% to $13 million, bringing its domestic total to $46 million. It's a respectable hold, but the film was expensive. Shot for $68 million with undisclosed marketing and promotion costs, the picture will rely on foreign markets and awards buzz to push it into the black.

In fourth place, "Gone Girl" continued to chug along. David Fincher's version of "Scene from a Marriage" added another $11.1 million to its $124 million domestic haul. By next week it will pass "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" as the director's highest grossing stateside release.

Sliding in at number five, "The Book of Life" fell a slender 29% in its sophomore weekend to $9.8 million. The Fox and Reel FX co-production has made $29.9 million domestically.

"St. Vincent," the comedy from the Weinstein Company and Chernin Entertainment about a curmudgeon (Bill Murray) who befriends a neighborhood boy, expanded from 68 theaters to 2,282, picking up $8.1 million in the process. That was good enough for sixth place.

"The picture performed where we expected it would and we think it has long legs," said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein Company's distribution chief. "The numbers in Middle America were very, very strong."

In limited release, the Edward Snowden documentary "Citizenfour" opened to $125,172 in five theaters, for a strong $25,034 per screen average. Radius-TWC is overseeing the roll out.

Paramount Pictures' "Men, Women & Children" fared less well. Jason Reitman's social media dissection picked up $60,000 across 542 locations bringing its total to an anemic $664,000.




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