Gone Girl tops US box office

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 Powered by strong reviews, an established fan base and intense conversation on social media platforms, Gone Girl generated an estimated US$38 million (S$48.6 million) at North American theatres over the weekend, a huge result for an R-rated drama.

Gone Girl, which cost 20th Century Fox and New Regency about US$60 million to make, was directed by David Fincher from a screenplay adapted by Gillian Flynn from her best-selling book.

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star in the movie, which collected a worldwide total of US$62.6 million.

After a summer of comic-book superhero tales, Gone Girl brings to the screen a picture with tension, murder and mystery. Several films based on bestsellers have scored successful debuts this year, including Divergent from Lionsgate and The Fault In Our Stars from Fox.

Fincher's version of Gone Girl tells the story of New York writer Nick Dunne (Affleck) and his wife Amy (Pike), whose relationship falls apart after they move to Missouri to look after Dunne's sick mother.

When Amy goes missing, Dunne becomes the prime suspect in her murder and the mystery of her disappearance unravels under the gaze of the scrutinising media.

Affleck returns to a role in front of the camera in Gone Girl after establishing himself as a successful director with 2012's Oscar-winning Argo. Neil Patrick Harris stars as Amy's ex-boyfriend, who gets wrapped up in the mystery.

The No. 2 ticket seller over the weekend was also bigger than expected: Annabelle, a spin-off of last year's horror hit The Conjuring, took in about US$37.2 million in North America (and US$60.2 million worldwide), according to Rentrak, which compiles box-office data. It cost New Line, a division of Warner Bros, about US$6.5 million to make.

But it received poor reviews, making it less likely than Gone Girl to perform well in the weeks ahead.

The Equalizer (Sony), a thriller starring Denzel Washington, was a sturdy third in its second weekend, selling an estimated US$19 million in tickets for a new worldwide total of US$104 million.

The weekend did bring one notable letdown: The unfortunately titled Left Behind (Freestyle Releasing), a PG-13 biblical thriller starring Nicolas Cage and costing an estimated US$15 million to make, took in US$6.9 million, for sixth place.

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