Af­fleck’s ‘Ac­coun­tant’ tops charts with $24.7 mil­lion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF -

Ben Af­fleck is still a box of­fice draw out­side of the bat suit.

His new thriller “The Ac­coun­tant” opened to a chart-top­ping $24.7 mil­lion this week­end, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. Gavin O’Con­nor di­rected the R-rated thriller, star­ring Af­fleck as an autis­tic math­e­ma­ti­cian. The film didn’t play es­pe­cially well with crit­ics, but au­di­ences, who were 58 per­cent male and 68 per­cent over the age of 35, gave it a promis­ing “A’’ Cine­maS­core.

It’s the con­tin­u­a­tion of what proves to be a long and fruit­ful part­ner­ship be­tween Af­fleck and Warner Bros. Al­though “The Ac­coun­tant,” which cost a re­ported $40 mil­lion to pro­duce, didn’t quite hit the heights of “Gone Girl’s” $37.5 mil­lion open­ing, it is in the range of some of his other R-rated fall open­ings with the stu­dio. “Argo,” for in­stance, launched to $19.5 mil­lion in 2012, and “The Town,” took in $23.8 mil­lion in 2010.

“The Ac­coun­tant” also far-sur­passed Warner Bros.’ early pre­dic­tions for the film, which had it in the $15 to $20 mil­lion range.

“We’re in the Ben Af­fleck busi­ness, and we’re proud of it. We’ve had a lot of movies with him, and we have a lot of movies com­ing up with him,” said Jeff Gold­stein, Warner Bros. pres­i­dent of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion. “Au­di­ences just love him.”

Af­fleck’s mob drama “Live By Night,” which he wrote, di­rected and stars in, opens on Christ­mas. He also has the DC comics films with the stu­dio.

The week­end’s other new stardriven project, “Kevin Hart: What Now?” nar­rowly took sec­ond place over last week’s champ “The Girl on the Train.” The Kevin Hart con­cert film, which Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures dis­trib­uted, took in $11.98 mil­lion. The co­me­dian’s 2013 con­cert film “Kevin Hart: Let Me Ex­plain” opened to a sim­i­lar $10 mil­lion in 2013.

“We love Kevin Hart and we love our as­so­ci­a­tion with him. This is our fourth col­lab­o­ra­tion with him this year alone,” said Nick Car­pou, Uni­ver­sal’s pres­i­dent of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion. “He is tire­less in the way that he pro­motes his projects and the way that he’s al­ways work­ing. It’s re­ally a plea­sure to be part of it.”

In third place, “The Girl on the Train” net­ted $11.975 mil­lion for Uni­ver­sal, bring­ing its do­mes­tic to­tal to $46.6 mil­lion. With such a mi­nus­cule dif­fer­ence, the Uni­ver­sal films could eas­ily switch places when fi­nal num­bers come in on Mon­day.

Holdovers “Miss Pere­grine’s Home For Pe­cu­liar Chil­dren” and “Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon” rounded out the top five with $8.9 mil­lion and $6.4 mil­lion, re­spec­tively.

The week­end’s other new opener, the Mat­tel-in­spired “Max Steel,” bombed with only $2.2 mil­lion. Open Road dis­trib­uted the film star­ring Ben Winchell, which cur­rently has a zero per­cent on Rot­ten To­ma­toes.

Over­all, the year is still up 3.5 per­cent, but the fall sea­son is down from last year, ac­cord­ing to box of­fice tracker comS­core.

“In the wake of the sum­mer sea­son, the fall al­ways seems a lit­tle slow. This year is sort of typ­i­cal in that way. We haven’t had an Oc­to­ber break­out hit like we had with ‘Grav­ity’ and ‘The Mar­tian,’” said Paul Der­garabe­dian, comS­core’s se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst. So far, the fall’s top-gross­ing film is “Sully,” which has grossed $118.4 mil­lion to date.

CHUCK ZLOTNICK/WARNER BROS. VIA AP

Ben Af­fleck ap­pears in a scene from “The Ac­coun­tant.”

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