Three newcomers kicked off the month of October vying for the box office win, with Universal's harrowing thriller The Girl On the Train squaring off against Fox Searchlight's indie sensation Birth of a Nation and Lionsgate's family comedy Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life. We predicted earlier this week that The Girl On the Train would win with $24.5 million, which turned out to be quite the accurate prediction. The Girl On the Train ended up winning with an estimated take of $24.6 million.
Box Office Mojo reports that The Girl On the Train pulled in an impressive $7,844 per-screen average from 3,144 theaters, easily overtaking last weekend's winner, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which dropped to second place with $15 million, followed by Deepwater Horizon with $11.7 million, The Magnificent Seven with $9.1 million and Storks rounding out the top 5 with $8.4 million. The week's other two new releases didn't fare nearly as well as predicted, cracking the top 10 but not the top 5.
The Girl On the Train isn't as big a hit with movie critics as it was with its literary counterparts, with a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, dropping from a 56% score earlier this week. The Birth of a Nation, writer-director-star Nate Parker's indie film that took Sundance by storm, and was purchased by Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million in January, has a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, dropping from 81% earlier this week. Some believe that the 17-year-old rape accusation against writer-director-star Nate Parker which recently resurfaced did in fact hurt its box office performance and/or its Oscar chances. Lionsgate's Middle School is currently sitting at a 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Girl On the Train is a harrowing thriller following Rachel (Emily Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Emily Blunt leads an all-star cast in The Girl on the Train, alongside Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon. Tate Taylor (The Help) directs from an adapted screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson (Men, Women and Children).
Set against the antebellum South, The Birth Of a Nation follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates a slave uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom. The supporting cast includes Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Mark Boone Junior, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Alkoya Brunson.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, based on James Patterson's beloved novel, follows imaginative quiet teenager Rafe Katchadorian is tired of his middle school's obsession with the rules at the expense of any and all creativity. Desperate to shake things up, Rafe and his best friends have come up with a plan: break every single rule in the school and let the students run wild}. The cast includes Lauren Graham, Adam Pally, Rob Riggle, Efren Ramirez, Griffin Gluck, Isabela Moner and Andrew Daly.
The top 10 is rounded out by The Birth of a Nation ($7.1 million), Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life ($6.9 million), Sully ($5.2 million), Masterminds ($4.1 million), Queen of Katwe $1.6 million. Also opening in limited release is FilmRise's The Greasy Strangler, which earned $25,000 from 11 theaters for a paltry $2,273 per-screen average. The Orchard's Blue Jay earned $5,235 from one theaters, while ArtAffects' Voiceless earned $250,000 from 100 theaters for a $2,500 per-screen average. No box office data was released for Rialto's The Battle of Algiers, Strand's Being 17, Shout! Factory's Blinky Bill, Cinestaan's Mirzya, Vertical Entertainment's Under the Shadow, Arc Entertainment's documentary Torchbearer, Well Go USA's Phantasm: Remastered and IMAX's Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience. We don't know for sure if any of these limited release titles will expand in the weeks and months to come.
Looking ahead to next weekend, three new movies will open in wide release. Warner Bros.' The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck, will go up against Lionsgate's stand-up comedy concert film Kevin Hart: What Now? and Open Road Films' Max Steel. Also opening in limited release is IFC's Certain Women, STX Entertainment's Desierto, Pantelion's La Leyenda del Chupacabras, Arc Entertainment's Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, GKIDS' Miss Hokusai, Roadside Attractions' Priceless, Indican's Search Engines and TriCoast Worldwide's Shadow World. Be sure to come back on Tuesday for next week's wave of predictions, but until then, check out the top 10 estimates below, for the weekend of October 7.