Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend – in collaboration with the Screen Rant Underground podcast Box Office Battle – to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.

For a recap of last week’s box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from The Equalizer‘s opening weekend – and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our previous picks measured up.

Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge that our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of October 3 – 5, 2014.

This weekend, drama Gone Girl debuts in 3,000 theaters, horror spin-off Annabelle opens in over 3,000 locations, and Left Behind plays in 1,785 theaters. In limited release, we have Men, Women & Children opening on five screens and The Good Lie plays in 450 locations.

#1 – Gone Girl

In what should be the tightest race for first at the box office in months, we’re giving the slight edge to David Fincher’s new film, Gone Girl. Due to its status as an adaptation of a popular novel, it ranks among the most anticipated releases this fall, with early projections indicating a $28 million weekend. Add that to Fincher’s popularity with cinephiles (his last three outings have posted respectable numbers) and Ben Affleck as the leading man, and this drama is shaping up to be a commercial hit when it opens in theaters.

Also playing in its favor is that the early critical response has pegged Gone Girl as yet another fantastic thriller from Fincher, which should please fans of the original book, as well as older moviegoers looking for something captivating. The first week of October is seen by some as the unofficial kickoff for Oscar season, and in these early stages, Gone Girl is generating buzz in that department as well. Whether it finishes first or second, it should do very well.

Ben Affleck smiles in Gone Girl Box Office Prediction: Gone Girl vs. Annabelle

#2 – Annabelle

Coming in a close second should be the horror spin-off Annabelle, whose early tracking predicts a $27 million opening. The brand association with last year’s smash The Conjuring ($137.4 million) will make this film appealing to fans of the genre, and with Halloween right around the corner, casual moviegoers will be in the mood for something with some serious scares.

Horror movies typically open strongly, but we believe this one won’t quite get to the top spot due to stiff competition from Gone Girl, which boasts higher-profile talent both in front of and behind the camera. Plus, early reviews aren’t available for Annabelle yet, so that may cause some to become skeptical of its quality and choose the “safer” bet in Fincher’s latest. As is the case with Gone Girl, it should be in fine shape either way.

#3 – The Equalizer

Look for last week’s the champ, The Equalizer (read our review), to fall to third in its second weekend. The Denzel-led action flick had one of the best September debuts, nabbing $34.1 million in its first three days. However, it will be difficult for it to maintain strong legs at the box office, since there are two major releases hitting screens this week. Gone Girl will lower the demand for this adult-targeted film, while Annabelle will satisfy the craving for horror enthusiasts, causing The Equalizer to slide down the charts.

#4 – The Maze Runner

Our pick for fourth is The Maze Runner (read our review). With the fall starting to bring out its more adult fare, this young-adult adaptation should continue to be a decent hold (it made $17.4 million last weekend, its second) since it will continue to serve a viable demographic. The film never broke out in the way that similar titles have in the past, but it’s performed well enough to warrant a sequel, and fans of the source material should continue to show their support.

The Maze Runner Teresa and Thomas Box Office Prediction: Gone Girl vs. Annabelle

#5 – The Boxtrolls

Rounding out the top five should be The Boxtrolls (read our review). The stop-motion animation film opened with a cool $17.2 million, which is line with how other movies from the studio Laika have debuted. There’s very little out there for families to go see right now, so it should be able to take advantage of limited competition and emerge as a go-to option for that segment. As is the case with The Maze RunnerBoxtrolls won’t be a mainstream hit, but it should get the job done for its target audience for at least one more week.

#10 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Our tiebreaker this week is Guardians of the Galaxy (read our review), which came in eighth place last week.

Notes

Despite it being the third wide release of the weekend (and featuring the undeniable premise of Nic Cage vs. The Apocalypse), we don’t expect Left Behind to crack the top five in its opening weekend. It’s arriving to the multiplex with very limited awareness, which has contributed to its low $7 million tracking. Last week’s fifth place film, Dolphin Tale 2, made just $4.7 million, but this weekend should prove to be more financially successful.

Director Jason Reitman has had box office success during his career (see: JunoUp in the Air), so those looking to place his Men, Women & Children in the top five should keep in mind that the drama is only playing in five theaters this week before expanding later in October. Given Reitman’s reputation, there’s a chance it breaks out then, but if his recent history (Labor Day) is any indication, his best days may be behind him.

That’s it for this week’s breakdown.

Screen Rant Underground Logo Header Box Office Prediction: Gone Girl vs. Annabelle

Now, if you want to participate in the weekly Box Office Battle, it’s time for you to make your picks! In the comments section below, post what you think will be the top five movies this weekend at the box office as well as your own number ten tiebreaker. Then, tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the results and find out who won.

Opening in theaters this week (Wide):

  • Gone Girl – 3,000 theaters
  • Annabelle – 3,000+ theaters
  • Left Behind – 1,785 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • Men, Women & Children – 5 theaters
  • The Good Lie – 450 theaters

Box Office Battle Scoring Rules: You get three (3) points for each direct match with the weekend actuals and one (1) point for each movie placed within one spot of the exact position. A perfect score is 15 points. Tie-breakers are not worth any points but, in the event of a tie, the person with a tie-breaker selection closest to the number 10 spot will be awarded the win.

Last Week’s Official Box Office Battle Reader Winner (The Equalizer opening): Sal reports that Jones won with a score of 12.

For the record, here are our picks from last week – along with the corresponding amount of points we received for each pick (listed in parenthesis).

  • #1 – The Equalizer (3)
  • #2 – The Maze Runner (3)
  • #3 – The Boxtrolls (3)
  • #4 – This is Where I Leave You (3)
  • #5 – A Walk Among the Tombstones (0)
  • #10 – Let’s be Cops
  • Final Score: 12 points

Make sure to check back later this week for the official box office results and tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the weekly winners!

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90

Source: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule)

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