- "Dracula Untold" was the weekend's top new movie
- But returning champ "Gone Girl" held the title belt
- Family comedy "Alexander" opened at No. 3
If this weekend's box office battle was a big-screen boxing match, it would have been the original "Rocky": grinning, glamorous Apollo Creed against little-known and less-regarded Rocky Balboa. No one expected that one to go the full 15 rounds, either.
In this weekend's showdown, it was the established "Gone Girl" against newcomer fantasy action flick "Dracula Untold."
"Gone Girl" held the title belt, but not by much: the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's best-seller earned roughly $26.8 million compared with "Dracula Untold's" $23.5 million.
But "Gone Girl" seemed to have everything going for it, including big-name stars (led by Oscar winner Ben Affleck), critical acclaim and tremendous word of mouth. Estimated second-weekend ticket sales fell just 29%, compared with the 40% to 50% decline most box office champs suffer in their second week out.
Unlike the champ, "Untold" seemed to have everything going against it. With the lead role held by Luke Evans, best known as the bad guy in last year's "Fast & Furious 6," there was a lack of major stars. Then there was the consideration of competition: Horror movie "Annabelle" had opened the previous weekend, and unlike last year, most fright flicks are underperforming in 2014.
And the reviews? Most critics put a stake through its heart, leaving "Dracula Untold" at a putrid 26% on RottenTomatoes.com.
Yet when the dust settled, "Dracula Untold" was the weekend's top new movie. It's a fresh take on the Dracula legend: Evans plays Vlad as a heroic figure who's willing to do anything, including join the undead, to protect his family and his homeland. When you add in international ticket sales, the action-horror movie has already made back its $70 million budget.
Newcomer "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" also had much going for it, making its debut with big stars (Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner) and a story based on a much-loved book (Judith Viorst's 1972 children's classic).
While the live-action comedy knocked rival family film "The Boxtrolls" well down the chart, it also found itself sitting on the sidelines in third place.
The weekend's other new movies, "The Judge," starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, and "Addicted," starring Sharon Leal and Boris Kodjoe, performed about as expected, debuting fifth and seventh, respectively.
And after 2½ months, "Guardians of the Galaxy" finally fell out of the top 10. That said, people are still going to see the top-grossing movie of the year: It's up to $326 million domestic. Turns out we are all Groot.
Weekend domestic box office estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co., with final numbers available Monday afternoon:
1. "Gone Girl": $26.8 million ($78.3 million total)
2. "Dracula Untold": $23.5 million (debut)
3. "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day": $19.1 million (debut)
4. "Annabelle": $16.4 million ($62.2 million total)
5. "The Judge": $13.3 million (debut)