Box Office: 'Ouija' and 'Nightcrawler' Claim Tie for Halloween Crown

Elsewhere, indie thriller 'Before I Go to Sleep' marks a career worst for Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth

Thanks to a Halloween boost, Universal's Ouija held far better than expected in its second weekend to tie with Jake Gyllenhaal's new indie crime-thriller Nightcrawler for the North American box-office crown.

Ouija took in an estimated $10.9 million from 2,899 theaters for a 10-day domestic total of $35 million. Open Road Films' critically acclaimed Nightcrawler, playing in 2,766 locations, is also estimating a weekend take of $10.9 million.

The race won't be called until Monday morning when final grosses are tallied, although most rivals have Ouija slightly ahead.

Overseas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wowed with a China debut of $26.5 million for an international weekend take of $34.7 million and foreign total of $244 million. Globally, the Paramount title has now earned $434.5 million.

Ouija 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 and world cume of $42.7 million.

In North America, box office observers had expected Nightcrawler to win by a safe margin, but Ouija fell just 45 percent, far less than most horror titles in their second frames.

That doesn't mean it was 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 compared with 2013, and Hollywood studios considered the weekend such a wash that they didn't release one new film, leaving the marquee free for indie offerings — and the rerelease of Saw.

Saw, celebrating its 10th anniversary, came in well below expectations, grossing just $650,000 from 2,063 locations as horror fans clearly opted for Ouija.

Produced and financed by Bold Films, Nightcrawler marks the feature directorial debut of Dan Gilroy and stars Gyllenhaal as a hungry freelance journalist who looks to further his career by exposing L.A.'s underground crime scene. Open Road Films is handling the $8.5 million film domestically.

Read more Jake Gyllenhaal on Producing, 'Nightcrawler' Cuts and How "Acting Is Incredibly Selfish"

"Halloween clipped us a little bit, but we have a nice, long run ahead of us," said Open Road chief marketing officer Jason Cassidy. "We feel great about where we are and with the darker nature of the movie, we thought Halloween was an opportune time to go out. Also, there were not a lot of other wide releases."

Overseas, Nightcrawler opened in a handful of markets, earning $1.8 million.

Nightcrawler, also starring Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton, is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, although audiences gave it a B- CinemaScore. Males dominated (56 percent), while 66 percent of moviegoers were over the age of 25.

Halloween or no Halloween, Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth's British sci-fi thriller Before I Go to Sleep quickly bombed at the U.S. box office for distributor Clarius Entertainment, earning an estimated $2 million from 1,935 theaters.

That makes it the worst wide opening of Kidman's and Firth's respective careers, not accounting for inflation. Kidman's previous low was Birth ($2.4 million) in 2002, while Firth's was The Last Legion ($2.7 million) in 2007.

Scott Free, Millennium and StudioCanal partnered on Before I Go to Sleep, directed by Rowan Joffe. Based on the book by S. J. Watson, the film stars Kidman as a woman who wakes up every day with no memory of her life since she was in her early 20s.

Read more Box Office Milestone: 'Gone Girl' Sets U.S. Record for David Fincher

Fury, Gone Girl and The Book of Life rounded out the top five, while Bill Murray's indie comedy St. Vincent sported the best hold of the year for a film in its second weekend in nationwide release. St. Vincent, from The Weinstein Co. and Chernin Entertainment, grossed $7.8 million from 2,552 locations for a domestic total of $19.5 million and a decline of 0 percent.

Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day also continued to enjoy a strong hold, falling a mere 10 percent in its fourth weekend to $6.5 million for a domestic total of $53.6 million and global cume of $69.5 million.

Here are the estimated top 10 films for the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

*1. Ouija, 2/2,899, Universal, $10.9 million, -45%, $35 million

*1. Nightcrawler, 1/2,766, Open Road Films, $10.9 million

3. Fury, 3/3,313, Sony/QED, $9.1 million, -32%, $60.4 million

4. Gone Girl, 5/2,834, Fox/New Regency, $8.8 million, -20%, $136.6 million

5. The Book of Life, 3/2,794, Fox/ReelFX, $8.3 million, -17%, $40.5 million

6. John Wick, 2/2,589, Lionsgate, $8.1 million, -44%, $27.6 million

7. St. Vincent, 4/2,552, The Weinstein Co., $7.8 million, 0%, $19.5 million

8. Alexander...Very Bad Day, 4/2,896, Disney, $6.5 million, -10%, $53.6 million

9. The Judge, 4/1,942, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow, $3.4 million, -22%, $39.5 million

10. Dracula Untold, 4/1,913, Universal/Legendary, $2.9 million, -33%, $52.9 million

*Winner won't be declared until Monday morning.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

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