UPDATE 1-Ben Affleck's 'Gone Girl' snatches U.S. box office title

Sun Oct 5, 2014 2:04pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK Oct 5 (Reuters) - Movie thriller "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck as a man suspected of causing his wife's disappearance, overcame a demonic doll named "Annabelle" to win a tight weekend race at U.S. and Canadian movie box offices.

"Gone Girl" pulled in $38 million over its first three days in domestic theaters, according to estimates released Sunday by tracking firm Rentrak. Horror flick "Annabelle" ranked close behind with $37.2 million.

Last weekend's No. 1 film, thriller "The Equalizer" starring Denzel Washington, dropped to third. The movie collected $19 million over the weekend and brought its cumulative domestic sales to $64.5 million.

"Gone Girl," based on a best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, earned strong reviews from critics, with an 87 percent positive rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Affleck stars as a writer who is caught in a media circus when his wife goes missing and the police suspect he is responsible. Rosamund Pike plays his wife.

"There was a confluence of events that created an urgency to see this thought-provoking film," said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox that released the $61 million film.

"This is a water cooler movie and I think it will play and play and play," said Aronson, adding that it marked "The Social Network" director David Fincher's biggest-ever opening and that the studio had expected an opening of about $25 million.   Continued...