- The dark drama "Gone Girl" opened at No. 1
- Horror prequel "Annabelle" came in at a close second
- "Guardians of the Galaxy" is still holding on in the top 10
With all that's happening in the news, you might think moviegoers would skip over danger and depression in favor of something funny and light.
You'd be wrong.
"Gone Girl," the dark drama about a disappearance that reveals a dysfunctional marriage, won fall's first big box office battle over the weekend, holding off a stronger-than-expected challenge from the horror prequel "Annabelle."
Directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl" features murder, infidelity, psychosis, deception and tabloid TV. (Before you start yelling "spoilers!" remember that most reviews of the film came out more than a week ago, and Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel has been on shelves for two years.)
Earning $38 million, "Gone Girl" is director Fincher's biggest debut ever, easily surpassing the $30 million "Panic Room" opened with in 2002.
Though most horror films have suffered at the box office this year, new release "Annabelle" bucked the trend. With an opening weekend bow of $37.2 million, the movie quintupled its $6.5 million budget and nearly knocked the higher-profile "Gone Girl" out of top spot.
The fright flick is a prequel to last year's "The Conjuring," so that connection may have helped -- and if there's a month when horror movies figure to score, it's October.
The weekend's other major release, "Left Behind," was even darker in tone, depicting a world literally gone to hell after the Rapture. Nicolas Cage assumes the Kirk Cameron role in the latest big-screen take on the postapocalyptic Christian novels.
Critics savaged the thriller, but enough moviegoers turned out to give it a decent debut of $6.9 million, finishing just outside the top five.
There was some laughter, light and heroism to be found at theaters as "The Boxtrolls," "Dolphin Tale 2" and the Energizer bunny of 2014 movies, "Guardians of the Galaxy," held strongest at the box office.
Marvel's "Guardians" spent its 10th straight weekend in the top 10, increasing its total domestic box office take to $323 million. If twisted relationships, possessed dolls and the end of the world aren't your cup of cinematic tea, it's reassuring to know a talking tree named Groot will still be around for a while.
Domestic weekend box office estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co. (final numbers available Monday afternoon):
1. "Gone Girl," $38 million
2. "Annabelle," $37.2 million
3. "The Equalizer," $19 million
4. "The Boxtrolls," $12.4 million
5. "The Maze Runner," $12 million