Box Office: 'The Girl On The Train' Runs Over 'Birth Of A Nation' With $24M

1. The Girl On the Train (review)- $24.6M
Tate Taylor's adaptation of best-selling thriller The Girl On the Train was aiming towards the same audience that made Gone Girl a mid-sized hit a couple of years ago. And we see that strategy clearly worked as the film opened with $24.6M, easily besting the other new arrivals this week. Emily Blunt was the biggest name in the cast by far, with red-hot Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett in supporting roles, but this was always about appealing to fans of the book and psychological thrillers in general. I think the biggest surprise is how much better it did than The Birth of a Nation, which I'll get to later.
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children- $15M/$51M
A better than expected hold for Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which fell 48% from last week with $15M. That gives it $51M domestically with $96M worldwide.
3. Deepwater Horizon- $11.7M/$38.5M
After a less-than-stellar opening, Deepwater Horizon had a solid hold this week, falling only 41% and gaining $11.7M. The totals still aren't great for the Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg disaster thriller, and it's going to need help from overseas box office to break even. So far it has $66M worldwide.
4. The Magnificent Seven- $9.1M/$75.9M
5. Storks- $8.4M/$50.1M
6. The Birth of a Nation (review)- $7.1M
This is not good. Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation was greeted with tremendous fanfare at Sundance earlier this year. I was there, and the buzz for it as the clear frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars was greater than anything I had heard. The biopic on slave rebellion leader Nat Turner was always going to be controversial, but what appears to have sunk the film are events from Parker's past; 20-year-old rape allegations from which he was acquitted. The film opened with a disappointing $7.1M, a far cry from the record-breaking $17M Fox Searchlight paid to acquire it as an Oscar contender.  And the writing may have been on the wall all along, which is why FSL purchased Natalie Portman-starrer, Jackie, as their project to push this awards season. It doesn't help that 'Birth' faces a slew of prestige movies centered on the black experience. Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and others have knocked 'Birth' from its exclusive perch, and right now it's unlikely to climb back up. I think it's also worth nothing that it only opened in 2100 theaters, which is incredibly low for a high-profile Oscar favorite. Clearly, exhibitors spoke out against Parker in the way that would hurt him most and that's by not even showing the film.
7. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (review)- $6.9M
Oh, and something called Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life opened, appealing to the teen audience who loved James Patterson's book series. The $6.9M debut nearly accounts for the entire $8.5M production budget, so CBS Films has to be happy about that, and if the costs stay low we may see them indulge in a sequel.
8. Sully- $5.2M/$113.4M
9. Masterminds- $4.1M/$12.7M
10. Queen of Katwe- $1.6M/$5.3M