Because nothing is more terrifying than modern media and a man in a ponytail, this year’s big winner at the Halloween box-office was not a feature about a possessed parlor game or Nicole Kidman being unable to shake her brain box loose, it’s an offering about a skinny guy with a crappy camera. Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler—featuring Jake Gyllenhaal at his absolute best—narrowly edged out Ouija for box-office supremacy over the holiday weekend. And we mean narrowly, as Gilroy’s directorial debut pulled in a reported $10,909,000 to Ouija’s $10,900,000. Did the Oujia team see this coming? All signs point to “oh, probably not, because Ouija boards aren’t real and have no actual power.”
Despite serving as the box office’s most recent new horror outing, last week’s winning Ouija dipped by over 45 percent. The film has little to worry about, however, as it handily earned back its slim $5 million budget within its first week of release, and will likely pass the $50 million mark sometime this week. As of now, the film has earned $42.6 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing toy adaptation film about a possessed board game ever to hit the big screen (yes, this is a sub-sub-genre that it will likely top for years to come, at least until we get that weird Monopoly reimagining no one asked for).
This year’s Halloween weekend didn’t offer a tremendous amount in the way of variety, featuring just three new wide releases (and only two of those were truly “new”). Besides Nightcrawler, those new releases barely made a dent at the box-office, with the Nicole Kidman-starring amnesia thriller Before I Go To Sleep pulling in just over $2 million at the box-office, earning it the number fourteen spot on the charts and a bottom-half per screen average (just $1,065 per screen).
Elsewhere, the week’s only other “new” release—a tenth anniversary revival of Saw—failed to scare up fans of any stripe, new or old. Re-released into 2,063 theaters, the film only sewed together a $650,000 take, giving it the lowest per screen average by a mile (just $315 per screen). The film’s original 2004 release pulled in $104 million worldwide, so somewhere, there’s probably a creepy puppet frowning a lot and loudly yelling about numbers.
Still, the real winner of the weekend was Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, which added 181 theaters to its release count, while still hanging on to a per screen average that would make any studio executive squawk in appreciation. This week, the film averaged $10,866 per screen, while its closest competitor (Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour) could only pull out $5,676 per screen (ha, only). For further comparison’s sake, Nightcrawler averaged just under $4,000 per theater.
A handful of other limited releases—including the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Horns and a pair of new documentaries—also entered the box-office race, though the trio was only able to make their mark in the lower half of returns. Horns made $104,000 in 103 theaters, while the doc Showrunners: The Art Of Running A TV Show grabbed $3,100 in a single theater, with The Great Invisible pulling in only $1,900 on three screens.