UPDATE: November 3, 2014
After a tie was declared Sunday, final Monday numbers show Universal's horror holdover Ouija narrowly beating Jake Gyllenhaal's critically acclaimed indie crime-thriller Nightcrawler for the Halloween box office crown.
Ouija grossed $10.7 million from 2,899 theaters, compared to $10.4 million for Nightcrawler, which is playing 2,766 locations and stars Gyllenhaal as an ambitious, and troubled, freelance journalist taking on L.A.'s underground crime scene.
On Sunday, Universal put Ouija's estimated earnings at $10.9 million. Open Road Films quickly followed suit with an estimated $10.9 million for Nightcrawler, even though most rivals had Ouija slightly ahead (Sunday estimates often vary from final figures).
But it wasn't a great weekend overall, due to Halloween falling on a Friday for the first time in six years. Friday revenue was down a whopping 40 percent over 2013, while the weekend was down roughly 25 percent. Hollywood studios considered the weekend such a wash that they didn't release a single new film, leaving the marquee free for indie offerings — and the rerelease of Saw, which earned a dismal $660,000.
Still, Ouija, clearly benefiting from the spooky holiday, fell only 46 percent from its opening weekend, far than most horror films. That puts the 10-day domestic total at $34.8 million for Universal, Jason Blum's Blumhouse and Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes. Overseas, the film grossed another $5.7 million internationally from 19 territories, including a No. 1 finish in the U.K. with $2.2 million, for an early foreign total of $7.7 million.
ORIGINAL STORY: November 2, 2014
"Nightcrawler", a dark crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a freelance cameraman in the high-speed world of siren-chasing journalism, topped sluggish weekend domestic box office charts with $10.9 million in ticket sales.
"Ouija", last weekend's box office leader, was second by a razor-thin margin, selling just $8,760 fewer in tickets in a weekend slowed by candy-gathering Halloween revelers, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak. The top two films could swap places with "Ouija" on top once actual box office numbers are compiled after Sunday's showings.
"All eyes will be on this Monday to see how these rankings shake out," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak.
The World War Two war film "Fury" was third with $9.1 million for the three days from Friday through Sunday in the United States and Canada.
The 33-year old Gyllenhaal, who also produced "Nightcrawler", lost 30 pounds to play the role of Louis Bloom as an unemployed misfit who finds success as a cameraman in the sometimes violent world of local TV news.
Also starring Bill Paxton and Rene Russo, the film was well received by critics, with 94 percent of 140 reviewers giving it a "fresh" rating, according to the website Rotten Tomatoes.
Halloween falling on a Friday "hit the box-office fairly hard, with the day down around 40 percent from Friday a year ago," said Dergarabedian, adding "the marketplace rebounded nicely on Saturday and Sunday (with) a photo finish for first."
"Ouija", last weekend's box office leader, is based on the board game that some believe can contact the dead. The low-budget film has collected $35 million since opening Oct. 24.
"Fury", a blood-splattered action film that stars Brad Pitt as a war-hardened tank commander, has rung up more than $60 million in theaters in the United States and Canada. The film also stars Shia LaBeouf and Michael Pena.
The Ben Affleck thriller "Gone Girl", which led the box office for two weekends in October, continued its strong play. The movie, based on author Gillian Flynn's best-selling novel of a man accused of killing his wife, was fourth with $8.8 million in sales and has collected $136 million since opening on Oct. 3.
Open Road Films, a joint venture of Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment, released "Nightcrawler".
Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures released "Ouija". "Fury" was distributed by Sony Corp's movie studio. "Gone Girl" was released by 20th Century Fox, the movie studio owned by 21st Century Fox.