Box Office Outlook: Gone Girl
Gone Girl poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published October 3, 2014
Gone Girl might end up being David Fincherís biggest debut if advance sales in Los Angeles are a good indication.
Gone Girl might end up being David Fincherís biggest debut if advance sales in Los Angeles are a good indication. The tricky thing is that his films tend to have a much bigger following at high-profile theaters than more average locations, but Iíve never seen him play this big in advance. Iím not aware of a previous occasion when he actually sold out or came close to selling out well before the opening day.

By Wednesday, the film was already packing it in for Friday at the Arclight in Hollywood on five screens, which is an area filled with cinema snobs who usually show up in droves for master filmmakers. Even in Century City, which is high-profile but not quite like Hollywood, one of the shows was already approaching sold out status, which is a little more mainstream than Hollywood happens to be. At The Landmark, which is an art-house around the corner from there, Friday night shows have been packing it in but donít look like theyíre going to reach sold out status until at some point opening day. This is a film that the Hollywood area would probably want a little more than these other locations, but the fact its appeal is relatively spread out beyond one given location is indicating aggressive demand. The question is still how exclusive-or-mainstream the overall appeal is going to be across the nation.

The film is based on a best-selling novel that I havenít read and donít know much about it, but itís supposedly about a man whose wife disappeared and itís possible he murdered her and itís possible he didnít. Itís apparently a relationship drama and thriller about a couple that fantasized about killing each other when they were together. From the sound of it, it seems like a twisty, smarter, and darker variation of Double Jeopardy, which was about a woman getting framed for the murder of her husband, who set her up and is still alive, and her quest to exact revenge on him for putting her through this offense. Double Jeopardy opened in 1999 to $23.2 million when ticket prices were cheaper which would make its debut more like $37.8 million today. Fincherís biggest opening is Panic Room, which was about one of the most common fears of having your home being broken into by master burglars. Panic Room opened to $30.1 million in 2002, which would be more of a total of $42.8 million today.

I wouldnít be surprised if Gone Girl nears, matches, or even beats those inflated figures because of the heavy advance sales. Normally David Fincher fans just buy their tickets on the day of the show and this film is indicating stronger early demand from people who want to ensure that there will be a seat. This film is also part of Ben Affleckís resurrection as a serious actor after various years in the 2000ís when the public railed on him for career decisions. Here, he is being directed by a perfectionist who is known to exhaust his actors with endless takes to reach as realistic a performance as possible, kind of like Kubrick.

Thatís why cinema lovers show up in big numbers at high-profile theaters because theyíre given the promise that the given cast is going to be on their A-game, which gives them hope for a very good film. Not to mention that Fincher is an aesthetic genius who spends tremendous time designing each scene. For cinema snobs, this is like a dream because they want to be able to analyze everything heís doing. Normally Iíd say that this is probably the type of film that lags behind at more typical theaters than major theaters, but Iíve heard a lot of people really liked the book and its appeal stretched across ages. Younger demographics admired the book as much as older ones, which might push the film into a breakout.

In terms of Kubrickís career, the only relevant debut thatís available is Eyes Wide Shut, which paired Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman together as a couple in New York flirting with infidelity. Thatís not quite the same thing as one of them possibly ending up being murdered, but Iíve heard Gone Girl deals with intense relationship fights and word has also been spreading that Ben Affleck bares himself physically and not just emotionally, which reminds me of Tom Cruiseís partly exposed role in that film. Affleck was once Sexiest Man Alive, which is going to make plenty of girls and women want to see him naked here. Eyes Wide Shut opened to a strong but not great $21.7 million in 1999, but that figure would be around $35.4 million today. And the fact that Gone Girl isnít about a secret upper-class swinger society could push this film to be play stronger with conservative viewers who didnít appreciate that filmís subject.

I was originally predicting a debut between $20 - 25 million but the advance sales make me think thereís breakout potential. But what I donít know is how itís selling outside of major markets, which is going to be the big factor behind how large of an overall audience it reaches. Fincherís biggest followings are in big cities, and more average territories may not show up in such high quantities. But the popularity of the book could be a break-out factor, and it stands a chance of giving Fincher his biggest opening weekend.
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