Six months ago, this looked like a very different weekend at the box office. While the strong start for The Girl on the Train isn’t surprising, the weak opening for The Birth of a Nation reflects how the film, once seen as a surefire Oscar-contender, has been affected by a series of real world controversies. There’s an alternate timeline out there where it’s a sizable hit. Instead, the adaptation of a popular mystery novel starring Emily Blunt gets its picture at the top of this article.

FilmWeekendPer Screen
1The Girl on the Train$24,660,000$7,844$24,660,000
2Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children$15,000,000 (-48.9)$4,049$51,053,000
3Deepwater Horizon$11,750,000 (-41.9)$3,605$38,518,000
4The Magnificent Seven$9,150,000 (-41.4)$2,476$75,915,000
5Storks$8,450,000 (-37.3)$2,342$50,118,000
6The Birth of a Nation$7,100,000$3,373$7,100,000
7Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life$6,900,000$2,445$6,900,000
8Sully$5,270,000 (-36.3)$1,723$113,485,000
9Masterminds$4,100,000 (-37.3)$1,348$12,788,000
10Queen of katwe$1,618,000 (-35.2)$1,285$5,384,000

The Girl on the Train opened with a rock-solid $24 million, a good start for a modestly budgeted thriller appealing to slightly older audiences. The obvious point of comparison would be Gone Girl, which opened to $37 million in 2014 before going on to gross $167 million at the domestic box office, but this one won’t reach quite as far, especially since the critical response has been far more mixed. However, the film should turn a profit at the very least, barring a disastrous second weekend. The question of whether or not it’ll end up being a bonafide hit or just a minor success is one that can be further addressed next weekend.

You’ll have to scroll all the way down to the sixth spot in this week’s chart to find The Birth of a Nation, which opened with only $7 million. The film, which won critical praise at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year before being purchased for a record-breaking $17.5 million, has weathered a storm of controversy over the past few months as director/star Nate Parker came under fire for past sexual assault that culminated with his victim’s suicide in 2012. Suddenly, a surefire awards favorite that would need a slow and careful roll-out and a smart marketing campaign become toxic. And here we are. The film may break even, but chances of box office glory and Oscar gold seem like pipe dreams now.

The third new release of the week, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, opened in seventh place with a $6 million. With a reported budget of only $8.5 million, it should do fine in the long run, but no one will be writing home about it.

Meanwhile, the rest of the top ten faced its own series of uphill battles. In second place, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children dropped 48%, grossing $15 million for a $51 million total. Tim Burton’s film, while certainly not a disaster, will not break even at the domestic box office at this rate. In third place, Deepwater Horizon continued to under-perform for a film of its budget, grossing only $11 million for a $38 million total. And in fourth place, The Magnificent Seven started to struggle  —  it’ll certainly break $100 million at this point and count as another Denzel Washington-led box office hit, but with a budget of $90 million, it hasn’t been quite as big as the opening weekend promised.

In fact, the only film in the top ten whose numbers don’t practically require an asterisk is Sully, which emergency landed in eighth place with $5 million, brining the drama to a $113 million total. In a season where everyone is underperforming, Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood are revealing themselves to be as reliable as ever.

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