NEW YORK -- The spirits moved Ouija to No. 1 at the box office, with the board-game adaption leading the weekend with a $20 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The horror movie release, timed to Halloween, attracted more moviegoers at the North America box office than the violent Keanu Reeves thriller John Wick. The R-rated hit-man revenge tale from Lionsgate (LGF) opened with $14.2 million in second place.
Board-game adaptions such as Ouija have had a checkered history at the box office, with the big-budget Battleship -- the last Hasbro (HAS) game turned into a movie -- famously flopping in 2012. But Ouija, made by Blumhouse Productions and released by Universal Pictures, was made for just $5 million, and scared up moviegoers with a micro-budget summoning of brand-name occult.
Universal also could claim the top spot in the world's other top market, China, where the Scarlett Johansson sci-fi film Lucy opened with $19 million. Since opening in July, Lucy has made $434 million worldwide, proving the global appeal of Johansson.
Two Fox (FOX) releases rounded out the domestic top five. David Fincher's marital noir Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, made $11.1 million in its fourth week, bringing its cumulative total to $124 million. It will soon pass Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($127.5 million) to mark the director's top box office hit.
In its second week of release, the animated fantasy The Book of Life earned $9.8 million.
As Hollywood's awards season begins to heat up, limited-release titles also made noise at the box office. Easily leading all films in per-screen average were Alejandro Inarritu's black comedy Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), starring Michael Keaton, and the Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour.
Laura Poitras' Citizenfour drew a $25,000 average opening in five theaters for the Weinstein Co.'s Radius unit. Expanding to 50 theaters in its second week, Fox Searchlight's Birdman took in an average of almost $29,000 per screen.
Next weekend's top film is essentially already decided. Christopher Nolan's space travel thriller Interstellar, one of the year's most anticipated releases, opens in select theaters Wednesday and then wide on Friday. Nolan, an ardent advocate for film, is releasing the movie first in about 240 theaters that still project 35mm or 70mm, rather than digital.
-- Written by Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer.