‘Girl on the Train’ steam­rolls Parker’s ‘Birth of a Na­tion’

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF -

NEW YORK » Pro­pelled by the pop­u­lar­ity of Paula Hawkins’ best-seller, the fast-tracked big-screen adap­ta­tion of “The Girl on the Train” led North Amer­i­can the­aters in ticket sales with $24.7 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. Less suc­cess­ful was Nate Parker’s Nat Turner biopic “The Birth of a Na­tion,” which movie­go­ers largely greeted with a shrug af­ter a 17-year-old rape al­le­ga­tion resur­faced against its star and di­rec­tor.

“The Girl on the Train,” a psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller star­ring Emily Blunt, ap­pealed sig­nif­i­cantly to fe­male movie­go­ers, who made up 68 per­cent of the au­di­ence, ac­cord­ing to the film’s dis­tributer, Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures. The film, di­rected by Tate Tay­lor (“The Help”), is about an al­co­holic sub­ur­ban­ite woman who be­comes em­broiled in a mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance.

Re­leased just last year, Hawkins’ novel went from best-seller lists to the top of the box of­fice in short or­der. DreamWorks ac­quired film rights to the book ahead of its pub­li­ca­tion. While re­views for the film were weak, Blunt’s lead per­for­mance was largely praised.

Nick Car­pou, pres­i­dent of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion for Uni­ver­sal, cred­ited the film’s suc­cess with the al­liance of Uni­ver­sal and Steven Spiel­berg’s Am­blin Part­ners. Car­pou said the film’s box of­fice was largely un­af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

But per­haps the most closely watched open­ing was Fox Search­light’s “The Birth of a Na­tion.” Play­ing in 2,105 the­aters, the film opened with a dis­ap­point­ing $7.1 mil­lion.

The movie fetched a record $17.5 mil­lion at its much-lauded Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val pre­miere, where it was hailed as an Os­car con­tender and an an­swer to the then-boil­ing “Os­carsSoWhite” back­lash. But Parker be­came en­veloped in a rape al­le­ga­tion from his past, when he was a sopho­more at Penn State. Parker, who has main­tained his in­no­cence, was ac­quit­ted in 2001. The al­leged

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