Box office preview: Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' creeps into theaters | EW.com

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Box office preview: Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' creeps into theaters

Nightcrawler

(Chuck Zlotnick)

Halloween weekend is almost here, meaning one of two things: Horror fans will either flock to theaters or be too busy showing off their costumes in places more well-lit than cinemas.

Although next weekend begins the season of big movie weekends—Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Interstellar goes wide Nov. 7—this weekend is considerably smaller: Nightcrawler, a crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is the only huge new release. And it will be facing off against Ouija, another Halloween-appropriate thriller that opened last weekend and might be helped by audiences’ appetites for scares on Oct. 31.

Before I Go to Sleep, a thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, is opening in 1,900 theaters this weekend (Nightcrawler will be playing in over 2,700 places) and is estimated to have a $5 million opening. For those looking for some nostalgia, though, the original Saw is making a quick comeback to theaters for its 10-year anniversary and should make about $2.5 million—not exactly the same as its $18.3 million opening weekend in 2004, but a solid turnout for a re-release.

Here are this weekend’s predictions.

1. Nightcrawler—$10.5 million
Gyllenhaal prepared extensively for his role as Nightcrawler sociopathic title character by running 15 miles a day and losing almost 30 pounds, something that makes him appear gaunt and unhealthy in the film – and something that’s caught the eye of critics, who almost unanimously have praised Gyllenhaal’s “creepy” (their favorite adjective to describe him) performance. Audiences like drastic transformations; they like thrillers; and they like Gyllenhaal. His most recent film, 2013’s Prisoners, debuted at No. 1 with $20.8 million and 2012’s End of Watch also debuted at number one, narrowly beating the other two big releases that weekend: House at the End of the Street, a horror starring Jennifer Lawrence, and Trouble With the Curve, a more family-oriented Clint Eastwood film. It helps that Nightcrawler, which cost $8.5 million to produce, is one of the only movies debuting this weekend. Audiences don’t have much of a choice if they aren’t prepared for the explicit horror of Ouija but could still use some on-screen excitement.

2. Ouija$9 million
Board game thriller Ouija debuted at No. 1 last weekend, and most likely won’t suffer too terrible of a drop this weekend, thanks to Halloween and thanks to teenagers who would rather sit through a true-to-genre horror film than a drama whose main draw is Gyllenhaal looking creepy and acting like a maniac. After a strong opening weekend that earned the film $20 million, it’s expected to drop to the No. 2 spot this weekend and experience the typical second-weekend 50-percent drop in sales.

3. John Wick$8 million
John Wick doesn’t sound too enticing at first—Keanu Reeves isn’t exactly an irresistible draw. But people love this movie. And that means people are telling their friends about it, so word-of-mouth can work wonders for this action thriller. It already has: The studio predicted John Wick would earn about $7 or $8 million its opening weekend. It earned $14.2 million.

4. Fury$7.8 million
Fury’s audience this weekend: People who don’t want to watch a thriller and dads who haven’t made it to the theater yet to see this WWII drama. That’s a lot of people, so despite Fury’s earnings dropping 45 percent between its first and second weekends, this weekend shouldn’t be as big a dive: People who like Halloween are either out celebrating or watching one of the multiple thrillers out, leaving the people who could care less about the holiday scratching their movie-going itch with some Brad Pitt.

5. Gone Girl$6.7 million
Gone Girl’s been steadily dropping since its $37.5 million debut, first by 29 percent, then 37 percent, then 35 percent. The trend will no doubt continue this weekend; by how much it will decrease by this time around, though, is unclear. Some forecasts predict the decrease will only be about 32 percent, but it seems more likely that it will continue its downward trend and hover around $7 million.