Late October is when studios gear up for prestige season, while audiences are still up for sweets and scares. This week, Americans gobbled up an old book series, whistled past a creepy mansion, and scouted an old communist city. Here’s what happened at the box office.
What Won: Goosebumps
Four new wide releases hit theaters, none more emphatically than Goosebumps. The idiosyncratic take on author R.L. Stine’s series of children’s horror novels scared up $23.5 million for first place, proving that kids still drive ticket sales. This one hit at just the right time. People are ready to be spooked, and competition was almost nil for kiddie fright flicks; Hotel Transylvania 2 was the only other real contender. The movie should ride out its niche nicely to the end of the month, as the only other new movie geared towards children will be The Peanuts Movie, coming on November 6. Goosebumps may have a tough time holding on to the top spot as four new releases hit theaters this weekend.
What Was Disappointing: Crimson Peak
So much for original stories. Director Guillermo del Toro’s creepy gothic romance was released into nearly 3,000 theaters but could only manage $12.8 million, for fourth place. That’s del Toro’s worst wide release opening since his comic book adaptation Hellboy debuted with $23 million in 2004. Look for the movie to be pushed out of the top ten soon with all the new releases taking advantage of the Halloween holiday in the next few weeks. Hopefully the movie can find its emo audience once it hits home video.
What Was Surprising: Bridge of Spies
It’s kind of a big deal when a Steven Spielberg movie surprises at the box office, but the Bearded One has taken on some challenging if not passé topics in the past few years that don’t necessarily constitute commercial successes. He went retro with this Cold War tale of an insurance lawyer sent to Soviet East Berlin to negotiate the release of two American captives. Not the most rousing storyline ever, and definitely not one primed to get the asses in the seats. It seemed more poised to live on for substitute teachers to show in history classes for years to come, but Bridge of Spies managed to ease into third place with $15.3 million. Awards buzz could keep this one alive in the long run, but look for it to fall in the same box office numbers as The Terminal, another Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaboration that made just under $78 million domestically a decade.
What You Should Take a Chance On: Crimson Peak
Here’s our plea for you to go see Crimson Peak: It’s a lush, gorgeous, and totally engrossing gothic horror movie. The movie does have its faults in plot holes, special effects, and some weak storytelling, but on principle alone it’s worth checking out on the biggest screen in the darkest room possible. Guillermo del Toro is one of the few directors whose worst material is worth poring over, and Crimson Peak ranks among his best. New movies moving into the field next weekend include The Last Witch Hunter and Jem and the Holograms, which should spell doom for Crimson Peak. But don’t let this one pass you by.